How to Build a Laptop as a PVR

Written by phil hoops
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How to Build a Laptop as a PVR
Building a PVR-capable laptop is easier than you might think. (laptop image by Du...¡an Zidar from

PVRs have become prevalent in the past few years due to their ability to merge the entertainment capabilities of a television and a DVR, as well as the productivity of a computer into one device. Unfortunately, designated PVRs or Media Centers can cost over £975, which may be a bit too expensive for the average consumer. There is a more affordable and practical method to creating a PVR using your existing laptop computer. It is important to consider various factors when turning your laptop into a PVR.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Laptop Computer
  • External USB TV Tuner
  • Media Center Application

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  1. 1

    Connect an external hard drive of at least 500 GB (gigabytes) to your laptop. A large capacity external hard drive enables you to store all of your media in one place and allows you to easily organise it. Do not store many of your videos on your laptop's primary hard drive, as you will quickly fill the drive and potentially reduce your computer's performance.

  2. 2

    Purchase an external TV tuner for your laptop. Buying an external tuner is crucial, as most internal tuners are too large and won't fit inside your laptop's body. Using a TV tuner will enable you to playback and record your favourite television programs just like a DVR. There are a number of options on the market that will be suitable for hooking up to your laptop (see Resources). Currently though, the ATI Digital Cable Card Tuner is the only piece of hardware on the market that will display and record television shows in full high-definition.

  3. 3

    Install a Media Center application of your choosing (see Resources). If you are a Windows PC user then you already have Windows Media Center pre-installed on your machine. Use this software to watch and record your favourite television shows. Consider purchasing an alternative program, such as Beyond TV (MSRP: £64 as of 2010), if you would like to integrate non-Windows specific media formats, such as the XvID and Matroska (.mkv) video formats into your media library.

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