You can record television on your computer just as you would on a DVR or Tivo device. You will need some additional hardware, however, unless you specifically purchased a media PC with a TV tuner card already installed. You computer needs to interface with your cable or satellite box, just as your television does. For this to work, you need a special TV turner card that has the correct inputs, as well as specialized hardware that can compress video on the fly so your computer does not get bogged down.
This should not be confused with Windows Media Center or watching Internet TV on sites like Hulu. This is a card that will help you watch and record TV from your existing cable company.
In addition to the TV Tuner card, you’ll need software such as MythTV to perform the scheduling and recording. If you purchase a TV Tuner card, it will likely come with this or another form of software you can use.
If you do not already have TV Tuner card, the Hauppauge 1183 WinTV HVR-1600 is a respectable option. It allows you to schedule and record TV shows and saves them to your hard drive in MPEG-2 format. It comes with Win-TV Scheduler software that allows you to setup daily, weekly or one-time recordings. It also allows you to burn the shows to DVD so you can play them on another device. The card functions just as a normal DVR would.
It doesn’t matter which tuner card you get, but you should read the reviews to make sure average users did not have a difficult time installing the card or using the software. As with any PCI card, you will need to open the computer and physically install the hardware. Typically, you’ll install the software first, then install the card last. But be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions.
Recording television on your computer is a great option for a room that has no other television and a large monitor to simulate that real TV experience. It’s also a great option as a second DVR that gives you the ability to capture and burn disks of your favorite shows. To set this up, you should be somewhat familiar with computers, but in the end you will have increased the functionality of your computer while providing some entertainment for yourself and your family.