USB TV Tuner
February 8, 2007 5:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of buying this TV tuner, but I have some questions before I do.

I stopped watching TV for 10+ years, but I recently subscribed to digital cable, mostly to take advantage of a deal that gave me a discount if I switched everything (phone, internet, tv) over. But although I pay for cable, I turn my TV on maybe 2 or 3 times a month, mostly because I find it difficult to just sit still and watch TV. I have two monitors and I think that if I buy a TV tuner, I'd be more inclined to use my secondary monitor as a TV (I already use it to watch movies and downloaded TV shows) while I'm doing computer stuff.

My questions are thus:

1. The only cable line going into my bedroom (which is where my computer is) is plugged into my cable modem. On the back of my cable modem, there is also a USB input. Will I need to get a splitter to split the cable line to go into the tuner or can I utilize that USB input in some fashion?
2. Is splitting cable, that I pay, for illegal?
3. Any other recommendations for HD compatible USB TV tuner cards?
posted by eunoia to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. You can't use the USB. Gotta get a splitter, but they're not very expensive. RadioShack, a few bucks.
2. No.
3. Not sure...
posted by jckll at 5:30 PM on February 8, 2007

I use Divco's PCI HDTV tuner. Is there any reason you absolutely have to go with USB? (Generally their USB receives are good for laptops - if you have an available PCI slot consider that instead.) An internal PCI card will give you much better performance and require less messy cabling.

cklennon has most of your answers.

Keep in mind that the Divco doesn't have hardware encoding so if you're planing on recording, pausing, or "time shifting" tv then you computer will suffer performance wise. This should only be a problem if you're doing other things with the computer at the same time.

I've been very pleased with my Divco's HDTV performance and I think for the price its the way to go.

One other thing to keep in mind: Currently under DirectX 9 you can only display this type of video on your primary monitor - so be aware of that limitation. It wasn't a big deal for me when I had a dual display setup...

I also haven't owned a TV for many years but I find having the HDTV tuner card a nice feature now and then. I just ditched my dual 19" monitors and went with a 24" LCD which does the 1920x1200 resolution required for true 1080 HD - it's stunning. (BTW, I use the tuner card in conjunction with a over the air antenna - I'm able to pickup about 20 or 30 HDTV channels here in Chicago. Check your local listings - you mind find that you're better off dropping cable and using an antenna.)
posted by wfrgms at 8:31 PM on February 8, 2007

Sorry - here's a link to the tuner I use.
posted by wfrgms at 8:32 PM on February 8, 2007

Response by poster: Currently under DirectX 9 you can only display this type of video on your primary monitor - so be aware of that limitation. It wasn't a big deal for me when I had a dual display setup...

Ah. That's a huge issue as I would use my second display quite often. I would use my primary display (19" widescreen/HD ready) sometimes (especially if I could pick up HDTV channels) but I'd really like to be able to use my second monitor.
posted by eunoia at 9:04 PM on February 8, 2007

For the longest time the cable company in NE Pennsylvania ran ads about the dire consequences of stealing cable, how splitters and the like were tantamount to domestic terrorism.

That being said, they were talking about your neighbor splitting off a cable line without paying you. That's a lot different from splitting it inside your house.

The only way they'd be able to tell is if there's a loss of signal strength at the box outside, so unless you often have cable technicians traipsing through your house, you should be fine.

As a personal anecdote, I was a pretty technical youngster. My mom, bless her heart, wanted to get cable in my room and the front family room (which shared a wall).

My 9-year-old self explained to her that it was a matter of getting a cable splitter and some coax and running it through the wall.

Wanting to be 'proper,' my mom called the cable company, waited for the tech to show up and (you guessed it) he promptly drilled a hole, set up a splitter and ran some coax.

The fee? $75.
posted by owenkun at 10:50 AM on February 9, 2007

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