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Media Center

TV on your computer

With Windows Media Center—a feature included in the Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, and Windows 7 Ultimate—you can watch and record live TV on your computer. All you need is a TV tuner and a TV signal. With Windows Media Center and the right hardware, it’s possible to watch and record premium digital cable channels from your cable provider. However, setting up a computer to do this can be an advanced task. Here are answers to some common questions about setting up your computer to receive digital cable.

The different types of digital TV signals include:

  • ATSC. Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) is a common digital signal type used in the United States. (It is also widely used in Canada, Mexico, and Korea.) ATSC is intended to be viewed in the widescreen (16:9) format, with a resolution up to 1920 × 1080 pixels.
  • NTSC. National Television System Committee (NTSC) is a signal type that was phased out in the United States as part of the digital TV transition of 2009. If your TV tuner is only compatible with the NTSC signal type, you might still be able to receive a TV signal depending on your region and service provider, but you won’t be able to receive a TV signal from an over-the-air antenna.
  • QAM. Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) is the digital cable standard in the United States. There are two types of QAM signals: unencrypted QAM (sometimes called ClearQAM), and encrypted QAM, Most QAM-compatible TV tuners only work with unencrypted channels. Premium cable content is usually encrypted, and requires the use of a Digital Cable Tuner from your cable provider.
  • ISDB. Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISDB) is the digital TV and digital audio broadcasting format that Japan has created to allow radio and TV stations there to convert to digital format.
  • DVB-T. Digital Video Broadcasting Terrestrial (DVB-T) is the DVB European consortium standard for the broadcast transmission of digital terrestrial TV. DVB-T is a widely adopted digital format and is supported in all locales. (A DVB-T TV tuner is required for use.) For more information about DVB-T, go to the DVB website.
  • DVB-S. Digital Video Broadcasting Satellite (DVB-S) is the digital TV broadcasting method that is transmitted by satellite in Europe and other parts of the world. Whether the digital signal is free-to-air or fee-based, Media Center requires a set-top box to support this broadcasting standard. The DVB-S satellite transmission protocol was created by the Digital Video Broadcasting Project, an industry organization that develops technologies for digital TV.
  • Satellite TV is a TV system in which the signal is transmitted to an orbiting satellite that receives the signal, amplifies it, and then transmits it back to earth. Satellite TV signals are a digital format, although most of the standard televisions in the United States have analog format. To enable playback on an analog TV signal, the satellite TV receiver converts the digital signal into an analog format that a standard television can recognize and play back. There are two digital signal types for satellite TV:
  • Free-to-air. DVB-S is the primary signal type for free-to-air satellite TV. This type of program content is available around the world and is popular in Europe.
  • Fee-based. The majority of direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV signals are encrypted, and therefore can only be viewed through a paid subscription. Subscribers receive set-top boxes from their TV providers; the set-top boxes decrypt the signals for encrypted programs. Windows Media Center supports DTH satellite content through the TV provider’s set-top box.

Listen to music in Windows Media Center

Most people think of watching and recording TV when they think of Windows Media Center, but did you know that Media Center is also a great way to listen to music?

You can use Windows Media Center to play your favorite songs, create playlists for parties, and even watch a slide show of your pictures while the music plays.

Use a remote control with Windows Media Center

You can use a mouse and keyboard to get around Windows Media Center, but the best way to experience Media Center is with a remote control. There are many types of Media Center remote controls available to buy, with a variety of options. If you purchased a Media Center PC or a TV tuner, a remote control might have even been included with it.

You’ll also need a receiver for the Media Center remote control to work properly. Most Media Center remote control receivers are separate infrared (IR) devices that connect to your computer’s USB port, but some use Bluetooth or radio frequencies instead.

If your computer came with a remote, the infrared receiver might be built in to the computer. If you purchased your Media Center remote control separately, it probably came with an infrared receiver that you can connect to your computer’s USB jack.

Burn a CD or DVD in Windows Media Center

There are many options available to you for burning CDs and DVDs in Windows Media Center. Knowing how you want to use the burned disc will help you determine which option is right for you.

Edit pictures in Windows Media Center

You can make changes to your digital pictures in Windows Media Center, such as rotating a picture or removing red eye. You can also print pictures and delete pictures.

Creating slide shows with music in Windows Media Center

Every party needs a little background music to set the mood, but have you ever considered background photos? With Windows Media Center, you can have both.

You can use Media Center to play slide shows of your favorite photos—along with background music—on your computer. This is especially cool if you’re computer is connected to a TV. A Media Center slide show can completely change the dynamic of your living room for parties and get-togethers.