Even though TVs have advanced so much over the decade, their prices haven’t really gotten down. Not everyone can afford a new Television. With really good televisions being so expensive, it is not worth spending your money on a low-end TV with basic features, when you have an old PC or CRT/LCD monitor around. Plus, for workplaces or shops, it might be a good idea to have a PC that can be turned into a TV instantly, since it would save space by being capable of functioning as a TV and a PC at any time.
Furthermore, even when streaming is the norm these days, it is not necessary that every channel could be streamed online. There might be some channel which you desperately want to watch online, but can’t since it isn’t offered online.
There are three ways of doing this. Either you can use your PC’s PCI slot to have a TV tuner card installed, or buy a separate TV device which doesn’t cost much. You can also for a simple USB based device for your laptops.
PCI TV Tuner Card
For this to work you must have at least 10 GB of hard drive space on your machine. Also, your processor needs to be a moderate one for this to handle TV as well as your computing operations simultaneously. Typically, this card would go into an express PCI slot on your motherboard. There are different kinds of qualities available.
The better quality one you buy, better image quality you shall get. Though, this is largely restraint by your screen too. If you buy a 1080p card, yet your LCD screen is 720p, best quality shown would still be 720p. You can install the hardware yourself too since it is largely easy to do so. But in case you don’t want to take the risk of messing up things inside, you can always ask for a professional.
Internal TV tuner cards are usually better at resolution than the other ones. This is because they are not constrained by other factors such as USB speed, or processor of an external TV device itself. When all the hardware has been set up, you would also need to install the necessary software and drivers for the card. It will typically come with the device or you can also download it online from manufacturer’s website.
Through the software, you can now change channels and the volume as well through a remote control. It is also possible that there is a built-in speaker offered too, so you won’t have to spend on speakers if you are fine with a comparatively low volume. You might also be able to record your channels onto your hardware if the software gives you the capability for that.
USB TV device
This device is relatively very small in size, with just a USB port sprouting out, and an analog receiver at the rear. The way to go about is relatively similar to that or a PCI Tuner Card with just that it is portable and can be installed on any computer/laptop with a USB port. Just plug in the hardware and install the necessary software and then you are good to go.
Though with the USB TV device, the screen resolution might not be that good, and there is no way there can be inbuilt speakers on such a device which is getting power from a USB port. Again, you can record your favorite programs and some might even allow you to schedule them. This device is perhaps best for the laptops.
Buying a Separate TV device
This has it’s own perks. In case you have an old monitor around but don’t have a functional PC, you aren’t still out of look. There is a separate TV device sold in the markets, with its own processor. The TV device just connects to the LCD/CRT monitor via a VGA or an HDMI cable (if the device and screen both support one).
That’s it, no need of downloading or installing any software as the TV device does the job without them. Moreover, with a separate TV device, there are also buttons on the device itself, which can be used to manually change the channels or turn the volume up/down. This is for those scenarios when you can’t find the remote but want to change settings quickly. The devices usually come with built-in speakers as well, so in case your monitor doesn’t have a builtin-speakers, this would also add to cost savings since you won’t need to spend on speakers.
The screen quality these days offered by the TV devices is exceptionally well; the real constraint would be the screen itself. Not only, this but you can also attach a USB flash drive to the TV device, and watch movies or listen to songs On-Demand, all this without a PC. In case, you still want to use a PC, you can always hook up the device to a PC as well, since there are multiple modes for the device to work on, and it can simultaneously switch your screen from PC display to TV. Some even offer PIP (picture in picture display) which helps view both your PC screen as well as TV channels at the same time.
With that said, it is totally up to the user, to which device they think best suits them. If they want to go for portability, then a USB based device would be the best. Else, if they have a fixed desktop then an internal PCI TV tuner card would best serve since its resolution is high. Else, you may also go for a separate TV tuner device, in case you don’t have a PC or a laptop.