Watching live TV on your PC
Watching TV on your PC
Watching live TV on your laptop is a great alternative to portable TV's, read our guide to watching TV using USB TV Sticks.
TV Tuner Cards and USB TV Sticks:
To watch TV live without having to rely on a broadband internet connection, TV tuner cards and sticks can be used to add a receiver and aerial to your PC. These cards and sticks are supplied with their own software, that often gives your PC all the functionality of a top end digital TV, and a portable aerial, so, providing you have sufficient signal, you can set your laptop up anywhere to catch your favourite shows when your away from home. As switchover is imminent for everyone, we now only supply USB TV sticks that can receive Freeview television, meaning you'll have more choice of channels and wont have to invest in new equipment once the switchover has completed. For people that live in areas that have a poor reception quality at the moment, we recommend looking at this hybrid USB TV stick that receives both analogue and digital signals.
The software supplied with most USB TV Sticks allows you to pause, rewind and record live TV, burn shows straight to DVD, access an EPG (Electronic Program Guide) and turn on subtitling when its available. With a dual tuner USB TV stick, you can also use picture in picture to keep an eye on the game whilst watching the news or record one show whilst watching another.
Internet TV Services
With a high-speed broadband connection, you can access many streaming internet TV services provided by the networks, these usually offer you the ability to watch shows from the last 7 days either by streaming them straight to your screen, or by downloading them to watch later. BBC's iPlayer service, for example, gives you the choice to stream TV as its being played, watch shows that have aired in the last 7 days and to download recent shows to your hard drive to watch later. The download service usually has a time limit on how long after the download has finished that you can keep the file for but if your internet connection is struggling with playing live it can be a good solution. For some premium services, like LoveFilms movie streaming and Apple's iStore, you may have to pay either a monthly subscription charge or on a download by download basis.
The best currently available services in the UK are: