You can use Windows Media Center to watch, to pause, and to digitally record live TV in many countries. If a Windows Vista Home Premium–based computer or a Windows Vista Ultimate–based computer has an integrated TV tuner card or an external TV tuner card, you can watch live TV on the computer. To watch live TV, you merely have to plug the antenna output, the cable output, or the video output from the satellite set-top box into the computer tuner card. Then, connect the computer to the TV. This article describes the following components and elements:
- TV tuner card
- Current list of Windows Media Center certified TV tuners and Windows Media Center compatible TV tuners
- Countries where Windows Media Center can receive TV signals
- High definition (HD) content recording requirements
TV tuner card
A TV tuner card is a device that lets you receive TV signals on a computer. The following are the three types of TV tuners:
- Internal TV tuner cards that are mounted on the computer’s Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) expansion bus or PCI Express (PCIe) expansion bus
- External TV tuners that can be plugged into a universal serial bus (USB) port or into an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) 1394 device
- External TV tuner cards that can be plugged into a mobile PC's CardBus slot or into an ExpressCard slot
By using specialized software such as Windows Media Center, TV tuners can be used to record TV shows to a computer’s hard disk for future viewing.
You can use the following special TV features in Windows Media Center:
- You can watch, pause, and record live TV and movies.
- You can watch a live TV show on one channel while at the same time, you are recording a live TV show on a different channel. This feature requires multiple TV tuners.
- You can automatically record the whole season of a TV show without recording reruns of the TV show. Therefore, you will not miss a single new episode of your favorite TV show ever again.
- You can select TV shows from a convenient Electronic Programming Guide (EPG). The EPG is available in select countries. The EPG is a free service that provides date listings, time listings, and summaries for all the TV shows and the movies that are available through the local TV service. The EPG covers up to a two-week period so that you can easily browse and record current programs and future programs according to their start times. The EPG also features robust search capabilities that help you quickly find TV shows by using common categories such as children, movies, or sports.
- You can discover and record movies by using a feature-rich movie guide that sorts content by the following categories:
- Movie that is playing now
- Movie that is playing next
- Movie genre
- Top-rated movies
- You can use a Windows Media Center remote control to view TV and movies from across the room. Most TV tuners come with a Windows Media Center remote control. The remote control can also be purchased separately.
- You can burn favorite TV shows to a video DVD. You do not have to have separate software to burn TV shows to a video DVD.
- You can obtain support for high-definition cable TV. This feature is currently available only in the United States.
- You can use intelligent disk space management. Intelligent disk space management lets you record TV shows to another hard disk partition on the same computer. Or, you can record TV shows directly to an external hard disk.
Countries where Windows Media Center can receive TV signals
Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate bring Windows Media Center to more than 100 countries. If your computer is equipped with a TV tuner, Windows Media Center automatically detects whether you have the following configurations:
- An over-the-air signal or a cable
- A cable connection together with a set-top box
- A satellite configuration that typically includes a set-top box
If you have a set-top box, Windows Media Center helps you with the steps to set up the set-top box. This includes configuring the infrared (IR) blaster that controls the set-top box.
In many countries, an accurate list of available TV channels is inaccessible. In Windows Vista, Windows Media Center introduces an exhaustive new scanning feature for countries that use PAL signals or SECAM signals. The scanning feature provides a far more accurate way to find TV channels than in earlier versions of Windows.
EPG is supported in the following countries:
High definition content recording requirements
The following are the requirements to record high definition content:
- Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate.
- A digital cable-compatible computer. Such computers are typically available only from large computer manufacturers. Digital cable-compatible computers typically meet hardware specifications that require a High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP)-compliant graphics card that provides improved digital cable capabilities.
- An integrated USB digital cable tuner or an external USB digital cable tuner that is available from participating manufacturers.
- An HDCP-compliant monitor.
- A digital cable service from the local cable provider.
- A cable card from the local cable provider. The cable card is a thin card that slides into the digital cable tuner.
For more information about Windows Media Center and TV and movies, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
for other considerations.
Article ID: 942375 - Last Review: July 27, 2012 - Revision: 1.0
- Windows Vista Ultimate
- Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit Edition
- Windows Vista Home Premium
- Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit Edition
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