The introduction of USB (Universal Serial Bus) based devices has revolutionized computer data storage and transfer technology, and spawned an array of devices, ranging from USB flash drives, wireless adapters, to devices like USB TV tuners.
A tuner lets you watch and record on air TV broadcasts, on your laptop or desktop computer. Other than tuners, you can also opt for PCI TV tuner cards. However, out of the two, USB tuners are the simplest to install and use. It makes sense to buy one, instead of going for an expensive media center PC or buying a digital video recorder like TiVo.
The features that set best tuners apart from the rest, are high processing power, compact size, dual-band tuning, and multiple channel tuning capacity.
Diamond TVW750USB ATI Theater HD 750 USB Tuner
The Diamond ATI theater is the best tuner for Windows 7. Watch TV anywhere, any time by plugging in this small USB device in your laptop or PC. It can convert your recorded TV shows into various video formats like MPEG, AVI, DivX, WMV, and MPEG4. It provides support for ATSC and DVB-T broadcasts and comes with Clear-QAM digital TV support. It has an inbuilt intelligent image enhancement technology, along with a 12-bit audio and video decoder. Analog cable channels are displayed with excellent quality too. Since it does not have a dual hybrid tuner, you cannot watch a digital and analog channel at the same time. It is available at a price of USD 52 on Amazon.
HP KS523AA Tuner
With this HP tuner, you can watch and record high-definition ATSC1 digital broadcast, analog cable TV, and clear QAM digital TV, right on your PC. Record TV shows on the go and also listen to FM radio. This device comes with an easy to use electronic program guide too. If you happen to have an HP laptop or PC, this tuner works with HP QuickPlay, SmartMedia, and Windows Media center. You can record your favorite TV shows to the hard disk, directly. It costs about USD 70 on Amazon.
Sabrent TV-USB HD TV Tuner
This Sabrent tuner will convert your laptop into a digital multimedia center. You can watch all free-to-air HDTV channels, along with ATSC broadcasts. It comes with a remote control that lets you stop, play, record, and pause TV shows. It is priced quite reasonably too, at USD 45, on Amazon.
Hauppauge 1192 WinTV HVR-1950 External USB HDTV Tuner
This Hauppauge tuner comes with a remote and lets you watch and record most on air digital and analog TV channel programs, on your laptop or desktop. It comes with an MPEG-2 encoder, that lets you record programs while watching, directly to your hard disk. It is a bit expensive with a USD 129 price tag.
ATI TV Wonder HD 650 Combo USB
This is the best tuner for Mac PCs and notebooks. The ATI TV wonder comes with dual tuners that let you watch analog as well as digital signals, including NTSC, ATSC, over-the-air digital broadcasts, and clear QAM cable signals. It has a USD 100 price tag.
You can choose any one of the above tuners for your desktop or laptop computer and record your favorite television shows directly. Visit your local electronics store as soon as possible and buy one of these handy TV tuners.