Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How To Watch TV On Your Computer

Q: Paul, I got an e-mail selling a program that it says will let me watch “thousands of channels” of television on my computer for a one-time fee. Seems like a good deal, but I thought I would ask you, do I need this program to watch TV shows, or is there a free one?

A: While your idea is singular – watching TV on the puter – the answer is multifaceted and complex.. I’ll do my best to break it into it’s logical chunks. When I’m done, I hope you’ll see why you don’t want to buy this program you refer to.

1) You’re thinking of two separate things by “TV”.. at least; because as you know, TV starts with a source (“feed” or “signal” or “transmission”).

For computers there’s two main sources:
a: the Internet via a “feed” called IPTV (the TV signals are sent as Internet “packets”, basically the same as any other Internet “packet”. {e-mail, VoIP (telephony), file transfers, datagrams, HTML webpages, etc.})

b: “normal” sources — Satellite, over-the air transmissions, and cable.
I assume that you know the difference between Adobe Flash-based ‘movies’ (and also WMV video files) that play on sites such as YouTube (frequently referred to as “videos”) and “TV” — and  I am assuming you’re talking about the latter. You are talking about NBC, CBS, CNN, TNT, etc., but using the computer as your “screen” instead of a television set. Right? Let’s proceed.tractor

The “thousands of channels”…
Spanish, Ruskie, Japanese, and Swedish language channels, French, Canadian, British, German, and Italian channels, the Upper Silesian Used Tractor Auction Channel (I hear it can get lively there, and sometimes fights break out), the South Korean version of C-Span (I hear it can get lively there, and sometimes fights break out).
The Internet doesn’t filter. If I typed in http://www.ustac.com (home of the used tractors).. AND the Upper Silesian Used Tractor Auction Channel website provides a “live feed”.. I can click the link and start watching the auction.
Here in the US, I would be much more likely to type in http://www.cbs.com

Go ahead and click that link now.. you will see a selection of “live feeds”, live feeds in HD, watch-TV-with-others-and-chat ‘rooms’, and pre-recorded episodes, to choose from.
No special magic. No special program to download. Usually, you get the commercials too (as an added bonus!)

So.. on the Internet.. how do you see what’s available? Unfortunately, there isn’t a TV Guide Internet Version per say. There are however, “feed aggregator” sites.. the most popular are Hulu and Joost.Typically, what people do is use a search engine to find a “feed” for something they know they want to watch

Now.. a separate question is taking your current “feed” (cable, satellite, etc.) and plugging it into a PC instead of TV. Well, the distinction between “TV’s” and “monitors” is .. well, there is none now. Modern TV’s are basically just great big monitors, and can be used as such quite easily. But they usually have two things the typical PC doesn’t, though:
a) a “tuner”
b) a coaxial cable port
This is solved by the use of a specialized graphics card.. or “TV Tuner card” (not much distinction) which will give you both a “tuner” and a coaxial “in” (the source feed). The most popular of these is the ATI “All-in-Wonder” series of cards.

In conclusion —
This program doesn’t do anything the Internet doesn’t already do, but, hey, it will make it easy to find Portuguese weather reports.. in Portuguese. (But then.. so will Google.)
If your PC doesn’t have a coax “In”, you have to buy an “adapter” (like the ATI card). As soon as you do, hook up one of your spare coax cables, and you’ll get the same “feed” your TV sets get.

Hope that helped… And I hope you know to always think twice about unsolicited e-mail. It’s called “spam” for a reason.

Today’s free link: Demo: Tune in to movies and TV shows on the web. Watch this demo to learn how to use your computer to watch entire TV shows and movies over the Internet.

Folks, what’s your favorite “web TV” site? Let us know with a comment.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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April 21, 2009 - Posted by | advice, computers, digital Video, dtv, how to, Internet, PC | , , , , , , ,

15 Comments »

  1. Paul,

    You are a man of many talents!

    Thank you for explaining a subject that has always confused me somewhat, in such an easy and relaxed way.

    I recently invested in a larger computer monitor and I have been searching for an article that would help me to decide whether to add TV to my machine.

    Bill

    Like

    Comment by Bill Mullins | April 21, 2009 | Reply

    • Thank you for the kind words Mr. Mullins.

      There are some “subscriber” services available over the Internet as well.. such as NetFlix, but almost anything you can think of is available for viewing. For me, to just watch a show (or event), the search engine method works best.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | April 21, 2009 | Reply

  2. Love this blog I’ll be back when I have more time.

    Like

    Comment by mrred | April 21, 2009 | Reply

  3. […] How To Watch TV On Your Computer – Tech-for Everyone […]

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    Pingback by Geek Squeaks’ of the Week (#7) « What’s On My PC | April 22, 2009 | Reply

  4. MythTV and Linux

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    Comment by J@bba | April 22, 2009 | Reply

  5. Great post with great info! I can think of one plus for using a “TV tuner” card: You can record programming. I suppose this wouldn’t be much different than a tivo but perhaps you’d have more flexibility and video editing capabilites?

    Like

    Comment by Tim | April 22, 2009 | Reply

    • Tim,
      I am not a “TV guy”, and I don’t rent movies (etc.), but I realize that I’m an anomaly in that regard. However, if I were, I would definitely have a machine set up to pull in my shows and record them.. and store favorite movies for when the mood strikes.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | April 22, 2009 | Reply

  6. I’ve posted some related links in two blog postings:

    http://newsandtips.carputers.net/2008/09/11/more-on-tv-via-internet/

    JLC’s Internet TV was a free alternative to the spammed application you mentioned. I haven’t played with it since I did the following post:

    http://newsandtips.carputers.net/2008/07/27/jlcs-internet-tv/

    Like

    Comment by Mike@Carputers | April 23, 2009 | Reply

    • Mike,
      As I mentioned in an earlier reply, I don’t do these things myself — I only mention the (statistically) most popular.

      I am concerned by your reference to a “spammed app”, because I hate advertisement and think it is a colossal folly (see https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/good-bye-youtube-enjoy-your-ads/ ) and I really despise spam..

      To what, specifically, were you referring?

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | April 23, 2009 | Reply

      • Hi, Paul –

        I wasn’t accusing you of spamming by any means. Sorry if it sounded like I was. I was referring to the first line of your post, which read:

        “Paul, I got an e-mail selling a program that it says will let me watch “thousands of channels” of television on my computer for a one-time fee.”

        The person who emailed you was asking about a free alternative to what I called a “spammed application” – a piece of software “spamvertized” in an email or a forum/blog posting.

        My point was that JLC’s Internet TV would give that person for free what the spammer would have them pay for.

        I should have been clearer in my original comment. My apologies.

        Like

        Comment by Mike@Carputers | April 24, 2009 | Reply

        • Mike,
          Oh! Yes, the letter writer. I concluded my article with “I hope you know to always think twice about unsolicited e-mail. It’s called “spam” for a reason.”
          My regular readers can attest that I have emphasized a “standard operating procedure”: never click the link.

          Thank you for the reply, and thank you for the information. I hope my readers interested in this subject will read the articles you provided.

          Like

          Comment by techpaul | April 24, 2009 | Reply

  7. Ah, the oh so infamous EMAIL SPAM! Everyone’s arch nemesis! By the way, have you ever tried real spam, like on a sandwich? Blah! I guess it’s a good name to give junk email!

    NEways, I did a post, sometime back there, about the types of email SPAM I could think of and what to do with it: 3 Different Types of Email SPAM and What To Do About It

    Just my two cents!

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    Comment by Tim | April 24, 2009 | Reply

  8. Thank you for an informative article. I must say that you’re writing style is quite relaxed and thorough.

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    Comment by Anonymous | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  9. […] writer mourns over the death of his wife. Bag of Bones. He lives in his summer house. Local millionaire involves him in serious trouble. […]

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    Pingback by Bag of Bones, 2009 | May 3, 2009 | Reply

  10. Hi Paul, I found this site very interesting for giving FREE 3000 + tv stations and Radio on the internet and you don’t have to sign in or register.
    http://www.wwitv.com

    Like

    Comment by Jack | August 13, 2009 | Reply


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