Radio Tuners For Computer

Radio tuner cards that will enable someone to listen to AM/FM radio stations from their computers is all well and good, but to be watch television programs is the direction that technology is going. People want to downsize: They want to use their computers for all sources of media, messaging, radio and television. Radio tuner cards that are equipped to be used in PCs will enable them to do this.

Radio/TV tuners are now being installed on PCI computer expansion cards, in USB devices, or even as a part of a video card. An expansion card in a computer is a printed circuit board that can be inserted into a slot of a computer motherboard and thus will add additional functionality to the computer system. One edge of the expansion card holds the contacts or the edge connectors that fit exactly into the slot and these establish the electrical contact between the integrated circuits on the card and the motherboard.

Then, connectors which are mounted on the bracket allow the connection of external devices to the card. Depending on the setup of the motherboard, one to seven expansion cards can be added to a computer system.

By adding a PCI computer expansion card to the PC motherboard, the personal computer will now be able display and/or capture television channels or to otherwise provide or expand on features not offered by the motherboard. A good example is the original IBM PC. It did not provide graphics or hard drive capability as the technology for providing that on the motherboard did not exist. A graphics expansion card and an ST-506 hard disk controller card was utilized to provide graphics capability and hard drive interface respectively.

A TV tuner card is a little different than a radio tuner card in that it is a component of the computer that will allow it to receive television signals. Most also function as video capture cards, which allow television programs to be recorded onto a hard drive.

Currently, there are four kinds of tuner card on the market. They include the analog TV tuner, the digital TV tuner, hybrid tuners and combo tuners. Analog television cards that are on the cheaper end are suitable for real-time viewing in that they put out a raw video stream. They require some sort of compression if the video show is to be recorded. Some of the more expensive analog tuners models encode signals to motion JPEG or IMPEG and freeing up the main CPU. Many analog tuner cards also provide FM radio reception. The second type of tuner, a digital TV tuner, is broadcast as an MPEG-2 stream and no encoder is needed. The digital cards either provide the entire MPEG transport stream or extract the individual elementary streams. The third kind of tuner, a hybrid tuner, has one tuner that can be configured to act as an analog tuner or a digital tuner. To switch between the two is fairly easy, but cannot be done immediately. The card operates either as a digital tuner or an analog tuner until reconfigured. Lastly, the combo tuner is similar to a hybrid tuner, except there are two separate tuners on the card. One can watch analog while recording digital, or vice versa. The card operates as an analog tuner and a digital tuner simultaneously. The advantages over two separate cards are cost and utilization of expansion slots in the computer. As many regions around the world convert from analog to digital broadcasts, these tuners are gaining popularity.