Watch this demo to learn how to watch, pause, and record TV on your computer using Windows Media Center.
Getting started with Windows Media Center
TV on your computer: Understanding TV signals and TV tuners
These days, just about everyone listens to music on their computer. But did you know you can also use your computer to watch and record TV? Hi, I’m Andy Myers, a writer on the Windows team, and I’m going to show you how to use your computer as a DVR so you’ll never miss your favorite TV shows again.
With the right setup, it’s possible to watch and record TV on a laptop—but I’m going to show you how to do it on a desktop computer. I’ve even connected my computer to a plasma TV to show what a real home theater experience can be like.
Before you get started, you’ll need three things: A computer running either Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate, a TV signal, and a TV tuner. My PC came a with built-in TV tuner, but if yours didn't, you might be able to add one. You can learn more about this in Windows Help.
Because I have cable TV, I can just plug the TV signal from the wall directly into the back of my computer.
Now I need to start Windows Media Center and set up my TV signal. I’ll press the green button on the Media Center remote that came with my computer.
From the start screen, I’ll scroll to Tasks, click Settings, click TV, and then click Set Up TV Signal so Media Center knows what programs are on what channels. Don’t worry—you’ll only have to do this once.
Now comes the fun part. From the start screen, I’ll scroll to TV and Movies, click Recorded TV, and then click Add Recording. There are a lot of ways to find your favorite TV programs in Media Center—I’ll use the Guide.
Next, I find the program that I want to record, and then click the Record button on my remote. If it’s part of a series, I can click the More button on my remote, and then click Record Series. You can add as many recordings as you like—or as many as will fit on your hard drive, at least.
Now I’ll go back to the Recorded TV screen—all the programs I’ve recorded will show up here. I can watch them in any order I like, pause for a break, and even fast-forward through commercials.
And if I don’t want to watch recorded programs, I can always choose a live program instead. Media Center even lets you pause and rewind live TV.
That’s it! After you’re set up, watching and recording TV on your computer is just a couple remote clicks away.