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October 13, 2023

How to Watch TV on a Laptop With an External TV Tuner

You can watch television on a laptop if you have an external digital TV tuner (for over-the-air (OTA) and cable TV), a video connection, and Internet access. You also need to know what limitations to expect, and how much you’re willing to pay for a streaming service like Kodi or Jellyfin.

If you want to watch OTA or cable TV on your laptop, you need an ATSC digital tuner that converts electronic signals from an antenna into audio and video data that your computer can display. These devices can be in the form of a USB dongle or a small box that plugs into a spare USB port. They come with a bundled media software program that will install the necessary drivers, scan for available channels and start broadcasting them to your laptop screen.

A more complex type of TV tuner card is an internal PCI add-on card that you install in a desktop computer’s motherboard. These cards typically work with Windows Media Center and can be used for free over-the-air TV, or paid cable TV. They’re available from many hardware developers, including ATI All-in-Wonder cards that used to work with older PCs, before ATI stopped supporting the device and moved on to a different graphics solution.

The easiest way to connect your laptop to a TV is by using an HDMI cable, which looks similar to the same kind of cord you’d use for a flash drive or printer. Most laptops built over the last half-decade have an HDMI port, which makes this method simple and inexpensive.