TV tuner cards: watch TV on your computer with a tuner card

TV tuner cards are used to receive TV signals and display the received broadcast on a computer screen, and with signals received through a coaxial cable connector, an MPEG-4 decoder inside the computer converts the signals from TV in visible formats. Most TV tuner cards come complete with the necessary tuner software, a radio tuner, an infrared receiver, and a remote control.


There are also different types of TV tuner cards available to suit your needs. They are: analog TV tuner cards, digital TV tuner cards, hybrid tuner cards and combination tuner cards.

1. Analog TV cards basically output data from the tuner which is then normally transmitted to the system processor for intensive encoding. However, the more expensive models are capable of encoding the tuner data in MPEG format, freeing the system processor from this task. In addition to output, analog TV tuner cards also have input capabilities for composite video or S-video, while others can still receive FM radio signals.

2. Digital TV tuner cards, on the other hand, work by transmitting an MPEG stream that does not need any encoding device. Instead, the tuner cards extract the appropriate PIDs from a transport stream that does not require as much processing power.

3. Hybrid tuner cards can handle digital and analog inputs by having a main tuner that can be programmed as a digital or analog tuner. Switching between two modes is relatively easy and the tuner cards will function as either an analog or digital tuner until reprogrammed.

4. Combination tuner cards made it simple by integrating a digital and analog tuner on a single card. Like hybrid tuner cards, combination tuner cards have two separate tuners. You can watch anything with the analog tuner while recording digital data and vice versa. The advantage of using a combination tuner card (compared to using two separate analog and digital tuner cards) is the utilization of the computer’s expansion slots and cost.