How to Connect an External TV Tuner Card to a Laptop

by Mindi Orth

Using a standard antenna or cable connection, an external TV tuner allows you to watch and record live TV from your laptop. Before you can turn your laptop into a television, however, you first must connect the tuner to a broadcast source. Once connected, you can manage the live television broadcasts using the Windows Media Center software that ships free with most systems running the Windows Vista or newer operating system.


Use a coaxial cable to connect the external TV tuner card to the antenna or cable TV source. Confirm that the cable connects securely, because a loose connection may result in poor reception quality.


Turn on your laptop, if you have not already done so, and wait for it to boot completely.


Connect the external TV tuner to an available USB 2.0 port on your laptop. The “Found New Hardware” dialog box opens on the screen after a few moments.


Insert the installation CD that shipped with the external TV tuner and follow the on-screen prompts to complete the setup program. This installs the software drivers necessary to support the tuner and may install a media software program to use with the tuner.


Open the tuner software and follow the prompts to configure the tuner to receive television broadcasts. These steps may vary depending on the tuner hardware and software package you purchase. Alternatively, you may use the Windows Media Center software to manage your external TV tuner. Open the Windows Media Center software and click “Tasks | Settings | General | Windows Media Center Setup | Set Up TV Signal.” Follow the prompts to configure your tuner to receive TV broadcasts. Once configuration is complete, you can view and record live TV on your laptop.


  • Recording live TV requires a large amount of disk space. Adding an external hard drive may help you avoid running out of disk space while recording your favorite shows.

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About the Author

Mindi Orth began writing in 1996 as a technical writer for a consulting firm. She has experience in business documentation and has authored training and instructional materials. Orth holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Baldwin-Wallace College.

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