Since the analog TV signals have been discontinued in most cases throughout the country, the only way to catch TV signals is to have TV which can capture and process digital transmission, or if you subscribe to cable. Since I’m not too terribly interested in watching TV, there was no point in investing in a new TV and subscribing to cable was totally out of the question. The option then was to get the reception on my desktop computer.
The solution was to get a cheap ATSC tuner which plugged into the USB port and which had a loop antenna for reception.
ATSC digital Tuner Antenna
The antenna plugs into the USB port through a TV tuner card. The one I own is an Artec tuner card. I learned after I purchased it that it didn’t have support in Linux yet. Schade!
ATSC USB tuner for tuning digital TV reception
Once the hardware is setup is complete, we can get the local TV station information through Windows Media Center. That program pleasantly surprised me. After asking you for your zip code, it connects to a database and gets the TV schedules for all broadcast stations in your city. Then it scans for available channels and sets up a list of stations with their programming schedule.
Options seen under Windows Media Center, including one for Live TV.
You can either watch recorded shows or watch Live TV.
Windows Media Center Live TV in action.
Once Windows Media Center has scanned for the available channels, you can watch HDTV right on your own computer. In addition to being a TV tuner, Windows Media Center converts you computer into a DVR, where you can record programs or Pause and Rewind the shows that you are watching in real time. Pretty impressive stuff. Whats more impressive is that the equipment costed less than $30, that includes shipping.
Unfortunately the Artec card can’t be used within Linux since the kernel still hasn’t incorporated the hardware specs of Artec USB tuners in video4linux (v4l). But I’m pretty sure it will be available pretty soon.