Viewing TV channels and satellite broadcasts on laptops and desktops is a practice that has been around for many years now. The rapid spread of High-Definition (HD) content and HDTV sets though has raised the bar higher, and given people the ability to see ultra clear and crisp pictures. Plasma TV sets, LCD TV sets, LED TV sets and OLED TV sets are all capable of playing full-HD content now, but these TV sets are admittedly priced pretty high. There are many people who wish to enjoy their favorite shows and movies in HD quality but are unable to do so for many reasons.
To offer a solution to this problem, we now have USB HDTV tuners which can simply plug into the USB drive of a computer, and receive live feeds of HD content in a manner similar to that of a regular TV tuner card. An HDTV tuner receives signals from an HDTV antenna and then transmits these signals to the USB device which then displays the signal on a laptop screen or a desktop screen for the viewing purpose of the owner.
These cards also come equipped with some software tools in order to manage the channels that it receives, and this can be used for navigational purposes, for recording shows and for something as simple as switching channels as well.
Top USB HDTV Tuners Available
ATI TV Wonder HD 750 USB
This one will cost you approximately $99, and it includes an HDTV antenna, an FM player and a remote as well. The software (Arcsoft) is compatible with all the major versions of Microsoft Windows operating system, and several other third party applications as well. Recording shows in a schedule up to 2 weeks is also made possible, and the antenna receives Over-The-Air (OTA) signals as well as regular cable signals.
AVerTVHD Volar MAX
This is an economical option at $65, but there is no remote and no FM radio provided along with the antenna. Windows Media Center and AVerMedia software are enough for the navigational controls here, and this tuner has the added advantage of working seamlessly with Macs as well. It is compatible with digital cable signals and OTA analog signals too, so this is a pretty versatile unit for a pretty economical price.
This one will cost you around $99 and the lack of FM Radio and a remote control may seem strange at first. But this is a company that has established itself as one of the best in the line, and this particular tuner could be the best one around in the market right now. There is no software required for the device either and it syncs perfectly with Windows Media Center. Digital cable signals and OTA analog signals are pulled excellently to provide a very impressive HD viewing experience.
Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick
Coming in at around $100, this is a little costlier than the other HDTV tuner cards, but this price is definitely worth it. The company was recently bought over by Hauppauge so there are bound to be some good aspects to this HDTV tuner. Digital and analog signals are received exceptionally well, OTA signals and cable signals are managed superbly and the software that is provided is also of the highest quality possible. FM radio is also included and the only downside is that there is no remote control provided along with the antenna.
Sabrent TV-USBHD Tuner
This specific HDTV tuner card will cost you around $50, and the package only includes a remote and an antenna. FM radio is conspicuously missing, but this is a feature one can do without at that price. It is compatible with Windows OS and receives signals pretty smoothly and without any interference and disturbance. The drivers have trouble loading though, and receiving digital cable signals is slightly beyond this it.
Each of these USB HDTV tuners are pretty powerful in their own right, and as you can see, they are not very expensive either. Owning them can give you easy access to some high quality HD channels and these can then even be viewed on your HDTV, as long as it comes with a USB port, which is a highly useful feature to have.