Friday, August 12, 2011

Turning Your PC into a DVR with Windows 7

So, you have an edition of Windows 7 with Media Center but no TV tuner card installed? You are missing out on the main Media Center experience. With the help of this section and an inexpensive TV tuner card, I show you how to turn your PC into a fully functional DVR that will give any TiVo set top box big competition.

Before you can get started, there are some minimum system requirements that I must go over so that you will be able to watch TV on your computer. Your computer must have a video card with at least 128MB of RAM. To support the best appearance your video card must also support the Aero Glass effect.

The most important aspect of adding a tuner to your PC is picking one that is compatible with Windows 7 Media Center. Several tuner cards are on the market, but not all are compatible with Windows 7 Media Center. One way to find a tuner that Microsoft has certified compatible is to use the Windows Logo product search page located at and search for compatible products. Just select either the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows you are running, set the Category to TV Tuner Cards and the Additional Qualifications box to MediaCenter, and click the Start button on the web page. You will be shown a list of all the cards Microsoft has certified.

As you can see, there are both internal PCI cards and external USB devices that can be added to your computer. The following are a few more models that are known to work well on Windows 7:

» Internal PCI-E: WinTV-HVR-1250
» Internal PCI-E: WinTV-HVR-2250
» External USB: Diamond ATI TV Wonder HD 750 (TVW750USB)

Installing the TV tuner is also very easy, especially if you purchased an external USB tuner. Simply plug it in and install the drivers that came with the device. If you purchased an internal PCI or PCI-E card, just turn off your computer, unplug the power, open the case, and pop in the card in an open PCI or PCI-E slot. Make sure to install the drivers after you power your PC back on although in some cases Windows 7 will automatically install the drivers as it did with my PCI-E TV tuner card.

After installing your TV tuner card, you are ready to get started configuring it in Windows Media Center. Make sure you have your antenna or cable feed connected to the card. Follow these steps to get your Windows Media Center up and running:

1. Click the Start button, type Media Center in the Search box, and then press Enter.

2. If you are prompted with a setup wizard, just select the Express option. You are going to configure your card a different way. After you are on the main Media Center screen use the arrow keys to navigate down to the Tasks section. Then navigate to Settings and press Enter.

3. On the Setting screen, select TV and press Enter.

4. Select Set Up TV Signal and press Enter. At this point, you will get a Tuner Not Found error if your TV tuner hardware is not installed properly. If this happens, make sure that you have the latest drivers for Windows 7 installed.

5. Confirm your region by selecting Yes, use this region to configure TV services and click Next.

6. Type in your ZIP code and click Next.

7. Click I agree on the Program Guide Terms of Service screen and then click Next.

8. If applicable, click I agree on the Microsoft PlayReady PC runtime EULA and then click Next. Microsoft PlayReady will be automatically downloaded and installed.

9. After the TV Signal detection has completed you will be presented with what Windows Media Center found. On my PC it said it detected Digital Cable (ClearQAM) and Analog Cable. If your results are correct click Yes, configure TV with these results. Otherwise click No, let me configure my TV signal manually and specify your setup. When ready click Next.

10. You will now be guided through setting up each of your sources where you pick the provider so Windows Media Center knows what program guide to provide you with. Click through the guide for each source and select your TV signal provider. When completed, click Next on the TV Signal Configuration confirmation screen.

11. Microsoft PlayReady updates will be downloaded along with the TV program guide. Then the TV channel scan will start automatically. This step will take several minutes. Once completed click Next on the results screen.

12. The TV signal should now be configured. Click Finish to exit and start using your new DVR.

Your Windows Media Center is now set up. You can begin to watch TV and set up shows to record in the guide. Now you are ready to further customize your Windows Media Center.

Source of Information : Windows 7 Tweaks 2010
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