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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.
Hi there - I have just recieved, off ebay a digital tv tuner, with remote. It plugs into the back of my pc and attatches to an arial, but it doesn't seem to want to pick up any channels - can you think of any possible solutions? - The software that I have installed for this is BlazeDTV 2.1 - hope that helps, and thanks in advnace for your help please HELP ANYONE TELL ME HOW TO WORK THIS THING PLEASE I LIVE IN AUSTRALIA
I cannot get bbc channels but I can recive these channels via my downstairs tv and freeviewbox however they are not picked up by numerous scans. I've thought of trying to manually scan for the channels but don't know where to start. My postcode is GL12 7LG (UK) any help would be much appreciated. (GL127LG)
ah good point i did some researching and when i bought my dvb-t box they give me the lastest application but there gave me the latest driver at theat time ive now been on their website and found out the application is the same but their is a new driver just for mce not the xp one their gave us
P.S ignore the previous comment i hired an electricain to come install extra points from our aerial
Hi..This is kind of long and hard to understand. Ive connected my freeviewbox to my PC and when i do the setup via antenna-analogue it picks up my channels 1-5 and my freeview box and it works fine. but i have to contol the freeview through its own remote because it has only picked up the box and not each channel individually. So i tried the setup via the DVB-T way. It picks up the box and indiviaual channels but i dont get any picture. HOW DO I GET THE PICTURE!!!.....i used nero home and it works fine. all the freeview channels were picked up seperately and i could change each channel though nero home. i want to do this on Media centre though . PLZ HELP!!!!! :D thank you
Briantist:..i have a (analog and dvb-t) tuner card in my pc. i have connected the freeviewbox through this. The ariel connection is from my rooftop. As i said. it works fine with nero home. each freeview channel is pickd up individually. it is just with media centre. help is much appreciated. if it still doesnt work i think ill just get a freeview card you mentioned.but i think i just need a step by step guide of the (option 3: media centre) method lol
I moved here from the states. My monitor is an LCD I used to watch tv via cable over there. It was NTSC. If i get a USB box will I be able to watch UK freeview (PAL) on my LCD monitor. I'm hoping it's just the same as any video over the internet as opposed to NTSC vs PAL.
I'm using an afatech 9020 based USB Dongle with blaseDTV 2.1 and I cant seem to tune into Channel 5 or BBC 4. The UK scan for channels baseDTV does does not seem to cover all of the freeveiw channels...? Please can anyone tell me the frequencey range and bandwidth to use for a manual scan, also the off-centre frequency would be a big help
Thanks Briantist, the signals I'm recieving make a bit more sense now ..I thought 4 channels of snooker was excessive, I seem to be picking up every transmitter in the northwest. I think I had better try some attenuators. Once again many thanks
I've also bought one of these Blaze DVB-T USB dongles and I can't get it to pick up any channels at all. I thought it may be that the small aerial wasn't good enough, but when I connected that to a Freeview TV it picked up the channels fine and with quite a good signal - so I wouldn't think it's the little aerial at fault. Are there some settings that I'm just not getting right? I'm not altering the advanced menu, just setting to the UK. Most of the time the screen says no signal. The USB dongle is responding to the remote ok.
Thanks Briantist. I checked for updates using the program and it said that there wasn't any newer versions. How can an Audio/Video Editing and Converter improve channel reception? Is that the software you meant?
Briantist: I've now tried it with the rooftop aerial and there's no difference - no channels received. I've also tried it on a PC and laptop, again no difference. I've now e-mailed the supplier for their comments. It's definitely not a case of a weak Freeviewsignal. On my Freeview TV and standalone Freeview receivers the signal strength and quality is at the 100% level.
Briantist: The company that I bought it from has replied to my e-mail and sent me a link for different software (2.5a). Unfortunately it hasn't made any difference. I thing you're right, it is looking like the dongle's at fault!
I am yet another of those who is thinking of buying a DVB-T Blaze thingy off ebay. I currently receive all my TV through a SKY dish only. I have no other aerial on my house at all. Would I be able to use this USB dongle set up via the dish? Freeview can be received through a dish after all. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks Marcus