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How to receive Freeview on your PC

If you want to watch digital television, one of the way to do this is use your PC. There are three main options.

If you want to watch digital television, one of the way to do t
Published on by on UK Free TV

If you want to watch digital television, one of the way to do this is use your PC. There are three main options, starting at around only 20.

Option 1: USB box

If you have a laptop computer, or do not wish to take your computer apart to fit a card into it, the most straightforward way is to use a USB box.

Once you have purchased the box, you first need to install some software on your computer. This will come on the CD with your USB package, or you can download the latest software from the company's web site. As a general rule, the on-line software will be a more up-to-date version.

You then plug the box into your roof-mounted aerial connection, and attach the USB cable to one of the USB ports on your computer. If you have USB 2 ports you should use these to get the best possible results.



Now start the "Digital TV" software. The first time you use it, you will need to scan for the Freeview channels. This can take several minutes (a lot longer than a Freeview set-top box).

Once this has completed, you will be able to select from the Freeview channels that are available in your area.



The software that comes with these boxes has two drawbacks: the channel numbers are not the standard Freeview ones (in the example, BBC News 24 is on channel 2 rather than channel 80), and there are no interactive services. This means you cannot view BBC Parliament at all, or have the graphical screens when listening to the radio channels.

On the plus side, these boxes do support the full 14 day Freeview programme guide. You can use you PC as a PVR (personal video recorder) as the software will record the Freeview transmission and save them as MPEG-2 (.mpg) files.

Option 2: PCI card

Another option is to use a PCI card. This will keep the equipment within your PC, but does require the confidence to open up your PC.



To install a PCI card you MUST first ensure that your computer is unplugged from the mains. It is not enough to switch it off using the button on the front; you must ensure that it is disconnected from the mains.



Locate a free PCI slot - you will need a screwdriver to remove any blanking plate.



You must ensure that after seating the card firmly in the slot that your digital TV card is securely fastened into the slot. The thick television aerial cables are sturdy and can easily rip out a card that is not firmly fixed.



Once you have replaced the case of the computer, you can then attach the aerial connection to the appropriate connection.



The software installation and operation of the digital television software is otherwise identical to a USB box.

Option 3: Media Center

Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 has full personal video recorder support, and if you have this version of Windows you do not need to install any software, just one or two PCI cards.

One requirement is that you must have installed some DVD playing software before you can watch the programmes.

The set-up is slightly more complicated than the above, but this results in a easy-to-use programme guide and sophisticated recording facilities.



Another advantage of using the Media Center software is that all your recorded TV can be watched by any other PC connected to your home network and by any Xbox 360 you may have.



There is now full support for the Freeview digital radio channels, but there are no red button text facilities. However, there is a full BBC News player in Media Center's Online Services menu.







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