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Can I add a TV tuner to my laptop?

Answer: The first PC-compatible TV tuners were manufactured as expansion cards, which required a desktop computer with an open PCI slot. However, most modern TV tuners are external devices that connect to a USB port. Therefore, it is now possible (and rather easy) to add a TV tuner to your laptop.

While you can physically connect a TV tuner to most laptops, you will also need software that works with the tuner. This includes a driver to communicate with the tuner and a software application to watch and/or record TV. Fortunately, most USB TV tuners come with the required driver and software, which you can install before using the tuner.

Some TV tuners are simple converters with a coax cable connection on one end and a USB connector on the other. One example is the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-950Q, which is not much larger than a USB flash drive. However, you can also get a tuner box, which may allow you to view multiple channels at once. For example, Ceton's InfiniTV 4 supports recording four HDTV channels simultaneously.

Whatever type of TV tuner you decide to use with your laptop, make sure your computer meets the system requirements before purchasing the tuner. If you are looking to buy a new computer that you plan to use for watching TV, you may want to choose a multimedia model that comes with a TV tuner built in.

Published: February 19, 2013 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center