Broadcasting is changing to digital and the UK’s existing analogue service is set to be switched off by 2012. We’re promised more channels, high-definition content and exciting new services.
While many people will simply choose a set-top box, digital TV and the PC are natural bedfellows, allowing you to use the PC to record programmes and put it at the heart of an entertainment system.
Take a look around PC stores, though, and you’ll get the impression that where TV on your PC is concerned, terrestrial reception is the only game in town, with analogue or Freeview (DVB-T) tuners easily available. But what if you want channels that aren’t available on Freeview, or you’re in one of the many areas where you can’t even get a decent signal?
If you can’t get Freeview, want to sample the BBC’s HD service, or just fancy a few extra free channels, a satellite receiver for your PC may be the solution.
If you just want to dip your toe in the waters with satellite TV, without worrying about HD – or you plan to upgrade to a graphics card that will do it justice later – you don’t need to worry about a codec. You just need software that will tune in your satellite card or adapter, and play the Mpeg2 video streams, and maybe record them on your hard drive.
ProgDVB is a software solution and can be downloaded for free, although it lacks the slick interface of Cyberlink’s Power Cinema. It can record shows, display TV full screen and will decode HD streams if you have a suitable codec installed. Setup is a little bewildering for newcomers.
Note that this the free 'Standard Edition' of ProgDVB and includes a MPEG-2 codec that will work for 21 days. After 21 days you'll need to either buy the MPEG-2 codec, find an alternative or upgrade to the Professional version of ProgDVB.