Essential Tips and Guidelines

Get The Most From Satellite TV For PC
Since I installed and started using the different satellite TV for PC products out there I've learned a few things that might be helpful. Some are pretty obvious, some less. I wanted to share them here so that they might save you some time.

If You're Getting Crashes
One thing that drove me mad was when I swapped from station to station and my PC TV software would crash on me. This drove me CRAZY. The thing that really worked for me was DOWNGRADING Windows Media Player. Only do this if you're getting repeated crashes while trying to view the different stations.
1) Find out what version of Windows Media Player you are using.
2) Then uninstall the player.
3) Then install the next version BELOW the one you have just had.

Remembering Your Channels
I think it's important you build up your own list of channels that you really like. Unfortunately, not all of the tools out there actaully store favourites for you. So what can you do to help you remember them? It's a bit clumsy but you CAN write them down if you find it easier. A much better way is to start a spreadsheet in something like Excel and keep track of which stations you like the most and want to re-visit. I wish I'd done this a lot sooner as it would have saved a lot of time.

Try Lots of Channels
Some of the PC TV programs out there have either a description of what's on each station, file it into a category, or at least give it a name. Don't take this on face value. Check out as many stations as you can. It's really good fun BUT more importantly you might miss good stations if you don't take the plunge and 'play' them.

Go Wild & Explore Different Countries!
Don't think that the only thing you'll find on foreign stations is a load of bizarre programs in different languages (although there is certainly a fair bit of that too!) One of the best stations I found was a Slovenian music channel. I'd just assumed it would be in a different language and be of no use. However it was in English and constantly shows the latest music videos in great quality. So explore. Try new cultures! Try different country's channels. That's what this is all about. You might find a station you really like.

Here's a List of Questions & Answers

Will It Work In My Country?
The system uses software and video 'streams' that are broadcast over the Internet. This means that all you need is a PC connected to the web (with a broadband connection) and you'll be able to watch the channels. You'll get the same channels in the UK as you do in the US. The channels aren't dependant on where you live.

Do I Need Any Hardware?
No. It's completely software based. I was skeptical about the whole thing when I got started and was surprised when it actually worked. You don't even need a flashy new video card. I'm on a basic card that came with my computer and it works fine.

While there's no monthly / recurring charges, and it is free to watch the channels, you do have to buy the software initially. Apparently it is possible to not even have to buy the software and be able to watch some channels but I honestly found this was way too complicated. If you're really computer savvy, then you might want to pursue this.

How Much Does It Cost?
There's a surprising amount of tools out there that let you watch satellite TV on your PC. They start at a few dollars / pounds and go up to I think about $50 bucks is the most expensive one I've seen so far. There's some real junk out there and while you don't have to pay a fortune, there's some truth to the old adage that you get what you pay for. Realistically it's going to set you back about $30 - $40 dollars depending on which package you go for.

What Is The Minimum System Requirement?
One of the good things about PC TV is that you don't need the world's fastest, most up-to-date computer to use the software. If you've got a 500mhz PC then you'll be fine. Here's a more full description of the minimum system requirement you need:
Operating System: Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000 and XP.
Processor Speed: of 500mhz or above.
Memory: 64 MB of RAM.
Hard Disk: 10 MB Free Space

What Stations Can I Watch?
You'll be surprised at the sheer number of stations that are available to watch with your PC satellite TV software. I found it absolutely fascinating to zoom from one country to the next, checking out the different channels. Stations are generally listed by country and there's a huge portion of them in English. You can watch news, sports, music, documentaries, movies, and a lot more. Whatever you're into, you'll find something to entertain you.

Can I Watch The Channels On My TV?
Yes! Although I've not tried this yet. You do need a graphics card with a TV out for this purpose. And while this is beyond the scope of this site at the moment, it's something I want to explore and add in the future. These cards are readily available on the web or at your local electrical store.

What About Mac System?
The software reviewed on this site is for PC users only. Sorry about that! But you can run ANY tool you read about here on your Mac if you have Virtual PC installed. I will endeavour to find some real Mac software and test it out if anyone's interested.

Here's the Players and Codecs you'll need on your system to get the most out of satellite TV on your PC. It's likely you'll have some version of the players mentioned below but make sure you get them up to date. This ensures the videos will work better.

Windows Media Player Version 11 - Free
This is one of the two main players you'll need. Although it's become somewhat bloated over the years and the file size continues to expand faster than pastry chef's waist line, it's still the main player that the PC TV programs out there use. Download Here

The Real Player Version 11 - Free
I don't personally like this player much but many of the PC TV programs I tested used it for at least some of the TV stations. The download link took a long time to find because they want you to buy the 'pro' version. Forget about that - just download the free player which has everything you need included. Download Here

DivX Version 7 - Free
Again, ignore the stuff about the pro version. There's a free codec here that is essential for playing video on your PC. Make sure you get this one installed. Download Here

Article written by Tom Amstrong.

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