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How Do I Choose the Best TV Tuner?

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  • Written By: David Bishop
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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With the proliferation of new and improved video broadcasting technologies, selecting the best TV tuner has become a more difficult process for many people. In the United States, the switch to digital technology has forced many consumers to purchase new television tuners capable of converting the high-definition video signal. Prospective buyers should first determine if they need to buy a dedicated TV tuner and then look for products that are compatible with their existing TVs, universal remote controls and antennas. The buyer also will need to decide if he or she wants to invest in extra features, such as digital video recording or enhanced programming guides.

Before making a purchasing decision, the consumer should first verify that he needs a TV tuner to view over-the-air broadcasts. If the consumer subscribes to cable or satellite service or has purchased a television since 2007, he probably will not need to buy a discrete TV tuner. Cable and satellite providers generally provide a decoder box to their subscribers for a small monthly fee, and it is usually a simple process to replace or upgrade a malfunctioning box to get the best TV tuner available. In the U.S., all TVs manufactured or imported since 2007 are required to have the capability of processing the newer high-definition broadcast signal. Many TVs made before 2007 also will have this feature, so it is important for the consumer to check the product manual before buying a discrete television tuner.

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Consumers with older TVs and those wanting additional features will want to look for the best TV tuner for their situation. For smaller, standard-definition televisions, a buyer may only need a basic over-the-air digital-analog tuner converter box, which will process the high-definition signal into a pattern that can be displayed on an analog TV. This is ideal for small TVs in bedrooms or kitchens that do not need to be in high definition. The consumer should make sure the converter is compatible with his or her external antenna line and the video input jack on the back of the television.

When looking for the best TV tuner, the consumer also may wish to consider purchasing an upgraded model that adds a digital video recorder to the product. While these tuners are generally much more expensive, they will allow the consumer to record and replay many hours of standard-definition broadcast television. This can be an effective alternative to a tradition video cassette recorder, particularly for people who record several hours of broadcast television on a weekly basis.

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