How To Set Up A USB TV Tuner On PC and Mobile
| Reuben Howe
Modern TVs have instant access (Once an aerial is connected) to 100’s of channels across Freeview and Freeview HD. The broadcast is carried through the air on waves and taken by the aerial to the TV. But inside the TV is a device called a Tuner. It is the TV Tuner that decodes the information from the broadcast into Audio and Visual components that are output onto the screen! The Tuner is integral to identifying and accessing all of the nation’s TV.
What is a USB TV Tuner?
A TV Tuner needs an aerial to receive the broadcast, and an audio-visual device to output to. This simple string of requirements means that, in theory, the Tuner can be independent from the actual output device. Commonly they are in-built to TVs, but what if a Tuner had a different connection, say, a USB? USB Tuners take that concept and connect an aerial (Via a standard Coaxial Aerial Port) to a Display but instead of the display being a TV it can be any USB 2.0 device! Your PC or Laptop, Chromebooks. Even your Android and Apple mobile phone can be transformed into a fully functional Television with just a compatible Tuner and an Aerial if you use a USB-C or Wi-Fi Tuner!
Just the same as a TV tuner, a USB tuner holds all the decoding software to present crisp, 1080p HD TV from Freeview HD.
How Do I Get TV On My Laptop?
The first step is to make sure your Laptop has a USB 2.0 port. This is the standard USB that you’d be using for storage drives, charging cables, etc. That way you know any USB TV Tuner will be compatible.
Next, you’ll need an Aerial. These vary in specifications, from high Gain to amplified and some being flat aerials while some are twin-antenna. For a guide on portable antennas that work on USB TV Tuners skim this blog and familiarise yourself with the main features.
Once you’ve found a TV Tuner and have a portable Aerial the only thing left is to make sure your device (Laptop, PC, etc) has the appropriate USB port. Plug in a DVB-T210 for example and the device will download drivers, install the EPG and TV viewing software and then be ready for use!
A one time download will be required for almost all USB Tuners as you need to access the latest driver software. Once that is done and your Tuner is installed, though, watching TV on the device does not need an internet, Wi-Fi or Data connection.
The location you access the EPG and TV functions will look something like this: xxx.xxx.xxx in your web browser. Don’t worry, even though it uses a browser window the site is connected without Wi-Fi usage. This address simply lets you access your Tuner and control the EPG, video recorder, and more.
How Do I Get TV On My Phone?
Similarly to USB Tuners, you can find USB-C versions which adapt a phone into a TV set, adding an Aerial cable on to the side or coming with an attached telescopic (Extendable) aerial. These work in the same way as normal USB TV Tuners with the difference that instead of downloading drivers online, you will instead install an app from your Android Phone App store or the Apple Store for iPhones and iPads.
Once the installation is complete you can receive TV broadcasts through the aerial, decode them in the mini USB tuner, and have them displayed on your phone screen!
The functionality will differ from app to app and tuner to tuner, as some will provide mobiles a full EPG and scheduled recordings while others use mobiles for a more Live-focused Tuner. Either way you will have a video recorder attached, to save TV directly to your internal memory or an SD Card.
Watch sports from the bar without crowding around the pub TV or catch up on news and shows in your work break, make TV more accessible, portable, and easy!
The Main Uses of USB TV Tuners
From traditional uses like portable TV to more dedicated purposes like forming your own Plex Media Server, USB TV Tuners are a versatile and adaptive bit of kit. Save your favourites, never miss the best TV Shows and keep organised with a full Electronic Program Guide built-in to the Tuner software. Here’s some inspiration for how you might use yours:
- Watch Live TV on-the-go or while travelling
- Record TV from anywhere and record directly to PC, Laptop, Mobile rather than a USB Stick or CD
- Access Digital TV without subscriptions, accounts, internet / data charges and recurring fees
- Access TV even in areas with low / no phone signal and data
- Use a port on your Windows home PC to create an all-in-one entertainment monitor
- Record directly to your Plex Media Server for a wealth of digital content that is stored locally, with no risk of content being taken down by streaming services
- Keep a caravan, caravan park, camping holiday, camp site connected to the world in a light and portable way
- Keep in a glove compartment or pocket to access TV in the car or truck
- Provide Live HD TV to rooms that the home aerial doesn’t reach like Lofts and Attics and lobbies
Bonus Top Pick: Wireless TV Tuning
If you’re looking for a USB TV tuner, you might also be interested to learn that PCs and Phones can be connected to Freeview broadcasts without any connection at all. By using a Wi-Fi TV Tuner, you can receive broadcasts into a small, compact box with in-built telescopic aerial. This box then relays that signal over its own local Wi-Fi network to your phones, tablets, laptops and PCs!
Keep charging your phone, keep your USB Mic and Keyboard plugged in and don’t worry that your iPhone doesn’t have a sensible port! Wi-Fi connection makes these tuners almost universally compatible with no cable adapters needed.