Q I have heard that I can watch TV programs on my laptop. What do I need to be able to do this?
A You can watch HDTV broadcasts on your laptop with a USB tuner stick. It looks like a USB flash drive, but incorporates an over-the-air HDTV tuner. Just plug it into your laptop, connect an antenna and you can tune and watch local programming.
Many tuner stick solutions also include software so you can record, pause and rewind TV, as well as edit your recordings and burn them to DVD.
Well-known video editing software publisher Pinnacle Systems (www.pinnaclesys.com) produces a wide range of USB tuner sticks for Macs and PCs, starting at about $70.
If you are a Dish Network subscriber, you should watch for the upcoming ViP 922 DVR. It uses technology adapted from Sling (called SlingLoaded) to let you access your DVR content anywhere.
Let's say you are in an airport and want to watch something recorded on your DVR with your iPhone. With the ViP 922 it's no problem as it can stream content to your iPhone over its data connection. Later in the day, say you are in a hotel room and want to watch on your laptop's bigger screen. Not only can you use the ViP 922 to stream programming to your laptop, you can convert your iPhone into a remote control and use it to control the ViP 922 from afar. Watching your home DVR on your laptop while using your iPhone as a remote control --now that's cool.
The ViP 922 won a stack of honors at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, including best remote control, for its unique touch-pad remote with a trigger on the bottom. The on-screen menu is tile-based like the iPhone and allows for a great deal of customization, and you have the ability to program the ViP 922 through a Web browser from anywhere in the world. If you are looking to watch TV on your laptop and subscribe to Dish, the ViP 922 is the ultimate solution, besides being the world's finest home DVR, too.
Even without a tuner card, there is a lot of classic TV programming available online from sources other than YouTube. For example, NBC has a nice archive of older programs, such as episodes of the popular 1970s TV show "Emergency!"; episodes of the original "Star Trek" are available from AOL Video. A Web search might yield exactly what you are looking for.
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