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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.
I have been using a freeviewbox to watch tv for at least a year, with no problems. Recently I have been trying to receive TV on a media center PC (Using the connection that was used by the freeview box) Yet I get less channels, bad receiption and signal loss.
I have tried TV cards that have worked for other people with the same problem.
I've had the Blaze DTV USB device for a couple of weeks now, and it was perfectly fine, but recently it's stopped receiving channels - I haven't changed anything, but all I currently get is a blank screen & when I scan for channels it says none available. Is there any point getting a better aerial, since the original one was working until a few days ago? Very confused!
hi briantist thanks for your reply.
Sorry to sound dumb but i am londe and from essex!!! how do i do this?? I just dont want wires goign everyhwere i also have a skybox. Please help!!! (also if you know of any easier way of me watching tv on my pc please let me know thanks!!).
I have been using a cheapo (ONN) digi box to pick up freeview from Pontop Pike via my analogue TV for some while. However, I have been unable to successfully connect and use freeview via the same box to my daughters Dell PC using Windows XP with Hauppauge PCI PVR wintv (26xxxx) card.I have to use a SCART to composite (3 phono) lead as my PCI card does not have a SCART connection, and have wondered whether this is causing the problem - I either get a completey blank screen or some interference at the bottom of the scrren - everything else seems to be working including the remote, the guide etc - anyone any ideas?
gordon Thursday 27 December 2007 2:08PM Weston-super-mare
open invitation to all TV experts to advise me on this query
I am living over in SPAIN near to Torreyvieja and would want to know if FREEVIEW channels can be picked up on my roof top 2.4m dish which is picking up SKY etc
I have wanted to try it but not cnfident that it will work and you information would be welcomed and what equipment would be required
Sky has BBC, ITV etc. on a satellite beam pointed tightly on UK, in theory you should be able to get BBC/ITV from Astra 2D satellite in Torreyvieja with a 2.4m dish see see www.astra2d.com for details, however will need careful setting up.
However see the articles about Freesat from BBC/ITV from March (not to be confused with Sky's Freesat), which will use a different satellite - Eurobird, and should be easier to pick up in Spain.Full details are awaited. More info www.astra2d.com, and www.freesat.co.uk. In other words might well be worth waiting for a few months.
Hi, I'm new to all of this and already beginning to lose my rag!!! OK, I just upgraded to Vista home premium and liked the idea of watching freeview on the pc (meaning the monster of a old tv that's currently in the bedroom can go into the kids room! It's all about recycling lol). Anyway picked up a DVB-T usb dongle from ebay, you know the one, DUTV005 with BlazeDTV 2.5a, followed all the instructions for installation only to be shown an error message about W2000 and XP SP2.
Managed to find vista drivers, removed old, added new only to be told that a) Media Center can't detect a tuner and b) I get no signal when scanning!
I live in CT15 4AU and after browsing through this site have seen that there's a freeview transmitter just down the road. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
I am in dire need of some very basic advice and help please.
I am British and live in Northern Czech Republic (1 hour between Prague and Dresden) and desperately need to sort out some free English television via a satellite set-up. However I have no experience of satellite whatsoever !!
The satellite systems available here only advertise local National programme availability via a subscriptioncard. How would I go about buying a system that would give me free UK channels (BBC 1/2 ITV 1/2 etc) as well as the local Czech ones for my wife (who is Czech!!!).
ive installed peak i38508agpk tuner card on pc. when i watch tv on pc the programs are jerky on the digital tuner on both card and through windows media centre. however on the cards software i can watch in analog and its fine, however i only recieve 5 channels.
Shawn Wednesday 9 January 2008 1:59PM Huddersfield
Hello, I bought a USB TV TUNER from eBay with BlazeDTV 2.5a. I don’t know how to deal with the DVB-T Modulator settings. Can anyone tell me the correct settings for the following? Constellation: Code Rate: Transmission Mode: Guard Interval: Off-center Frequency (KHz): Retry Times.
The antenna supplied with tuner package is useless. I used the roof antenna instead. But I am still having some problems with scanning the channels. Sometimes the BlazeDTV searched 37 channels but the last 27 channels appeared under the name ‘unknown’. I could get ITV1 itv2 and several others but none of the BBC channels.
Another problem is that the TV pictures froze every a few seconds and sometimes with some mosaic. Is that due to the strength and quality of the signals?
Can anyone help with these questions? Thanks! (I live in Huddersfield. The postcode is HD1 3AW)
Laurence Errington Saturday 26 January 2008 12:28PM
Blaze reception - signal problem
I too am one of the band of people getting v poor signal. There seems to be disagreement over whether u can use the external aerial. Can u tell me definitively, whether I can expect to get a signal via the external aerial or not? Thanks
hi i bought a freeview stick for my laptop and have it plugged into my external aerial which is in turn plugged into a signal booster, i am recieving 43 channels but some are glitchy, some like bbc1 and bbc2 are blank, and some like ch4 ch5 e4 and itv1,2,3&4 all don't even list. now i understand that i might just be in a bad area and reception is crap, but i have a ntl/virgin cable also coming into the room, if i were to put a terrestrial head on the end of it and use it, could i recieve all the channels on it (obviuosly not the ntl/virgin ones) or are all channels including freeview ones encrypted through cable???
Re my blaze and DVT stick and Briantist's reply. It was suggested that I had no chance withouty an external aerial but when I contacted Blaze (who only supply the software) they said that there was no way that Blaze would work with an externa aerial. So I'm getting mixed messages. ANy further advice?
Quad LNB question.
I know you can't receive Freeview through an old sat dish but is it possible to attach a new aerial to use the existing sky cables? If possible, what is the best junction box recommended to join the new aerial cable to the quad LNB Sky cabling?
I have installed a Compro PCI card in my Media Centre PC. However when scanning for channels none are found. This also applies to scanning when using Media Centre. The same aerial connection gives a good signal quality when connected to a Freeview TV with over 85 channels abvailable. Am I likely to require a booster when connected to the PC? BB12 postcode working off Pendle Forest.
Please note that if you use Media Center the program only scans for the main channels and NOT any sub-channels. These have to be manually added using the Settings feature. This is why many users think that they receive less channels.
BlazeTV is highly erractic and comes with virtually no technical support other than polite gestures.
I have an august dvb-usb freeview stick, i installed the drivers and use windows media center to search channels... it shows bluebell hill as my closest. iv used all the options shown and get 0 results. I can only use an indoor ariel due to the fact i dont have an ext roof ariel because we took it off after getting sky with the dish for downstairs.. anyway i can pick up freeview? =[
I bought an XP Media Center PC with built in card & software a couple of years ago, though it didn't come with the discs. Now, Media Center won't launch (though it's still recording TV series). MS forums have drawn a blank to my problem. Can you recommend new software that will work with the existing card?
Hi Briantist, it's uncommonly decent of you to ask!
Whenever I press the green button to launch the program A black window appears and I get an error message:
“Ehshell.exe – Common Language Runtime Debugging Service. Application has generated an exception that could not be handled. Process id=0x14a8 (5288), Thread id=0xac (172). Click ok to terminate or cancel to debug.” (It may be important to know that the two numbers in the brackets change each time I try to launch.)
If I click cancel I’m told a registered JIT debugger is not available… “(error code 0x2 (2)… cordbg.exe !a 0x1540” and I have to abort.
In other ways the program is still working. It still records TV programmes where I’d set up to record the series. I’m running XP Media Centre edition SP2.
OK. Often there is a "D" drive on the computer with the installation files in it. It might be called I386. You really need this, it's easy to fix if you can find it. If you can't, have you tried using System Restore to go back to a system checkpoint dated before the problem arose.
Also, the DivX codec package can cause the kind of problem you have.
Then reboot your PC. When it starts it should show a boot menu, select the "Microsoft Windows Recovery Console" option. This will allow you to repair your Windows installation using the folder you found as the "source CD".
Sorry, I'm not a techie and have fallen at the first hurdle. Literally typing what you advised just asks me to insert a CD. After loading a CD-R and trying again it says "Windows can't find...". I've tried some permutations including a slash after e: and no space after .exe but no joy.