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Upgrading and Fixing Computers: Do-it-Yourself For Dummies® by Andy Rathbone

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Chapter 11. Creating a Home Theater with Windows 7's Media Center

Topics and tasks in this chapter

  • Adding a USB TV tuner to your computer

  • Finding your computer's PCI or PCI-Express 1x slots

  • Adding an internal TV tuner to your computer

  • Connecting your computer's sound to a television

Determined to pry TiVo off the nation's TV sets, Microsoft tossed its own digital video recorder into Windows 7. Called Windows Media Center, the built-in program lets you automatically record movie and TV shows with your computer. The catch? Your computer needs three things to record television:

  • A TV signal, which usually enters through a cable in the wall or an antenna

  • A TV tuner, which plugs into your computer or lives on a card slipped inside it

  • Any Windows 7 version but Starter, the stripped-down version sold mostly on netbooks

The three tasks above let you record and playback TV shows, but to hear the best sound, connect your computer's sound to your home theater, a task covered in Chapter 8.

This chapter explains how to install a TV tuner for recording and watching TV on your computer. It also explains how to connect your computer to your TV and home stereo, turning your computer into the backbone of a home theater.

Can't afford a TV tuner? Go ahead and fire up Windows Media Center, anyway. The program lets you watch many TV shows over the Internet, neatly bypassing the need to install a TV tuner.

Buying a TV Tuner

Your television signal may come into your home through an antenna, or through a cable in the ...

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