Your options for viewing satellite television on a PC depend on whether you literally want to watch programming received on your own satellite dish, or you simply want to watch stations that are broadcast over satellite. The simplest setup is to subscribe to DirecTV or Dish Network, which both offer programming to PCs over an Internet connection if you are a subscriber. Other options will require additional hardware and/or work with a limited range of stations.
Hardware Options: Card
You can buy satellite receivers for your computer. These are cards that you install in your computer and then use a built-in socket to connect to a satellite dish. The receiver will come with bundled software that turns the satellite signal into a format your computer can display; some software also allows you to record it as a video file. As this setup doesn't include a viewing card reader or other method of verifying a satellite service subscription, you can watch only a limited range of "free to air" stations.
Hardware Options: HDMI
Some, but by no means all, computers have at least one HDMI socket that can accept video input signals as well as output a signal. If you have such a socket on your computer (and a related software setting to display the input from this socket) you can hook the computer up to the HDMI output socket of a satellite receiver box. You will need a satellite receiver box with two HDMI output sockets to take advantage of this by hooking up both a TV and a PC at the same time. Whether you can display two different stations on the these two HDMI output sockets, or whether they simply duplicate the picture, will depend on your receiver.
If you subscribe to DirecTV's satellite service, you can watch some live stations and on-demand programming on your PC. To do so, you'll need an HD DVR that is connected to the same local network as your computer. You'll also need to install a software application named DirecTV Player. Not all channels are available to watch on a computer, and some individual shows may be restricted. The software displays an on-screen channel guide with a logo (similar to that for Wi-Fi on computers and mobile devices) that shows you can stream the show on your home network. A limited number of channels, indicated by a "+" next to the logo, can be streamed on any computer, even if it's not on the same network.
If you subscribe to Dish TV, you can watch some satellite programming online. To do this, you'll need to connect your satellite receiver to a high-speed Internet connection. You can then visit the Dish Anywhere website (see Resources) to watch programming without the need to install software. You can watch any stations that are available through your subscription.
Several websites offer, or claim to offer, satellite television services. These don't require you to have a dish; instead, the company running the website receives the channel, then transmits the picture over the Internet. Be wary before paying for such services. Some may be an outright scam in which you don't get what you pay for, while others may be retransmitting the picture without the permission of the station involved, in which case you cannot rely on the service continuing. Other services may be acting within the law but will show only channels that are broadcast without any encryption or other restrictions and do not show the more popular satellite channels.
The HDTV standard requires a minimum of 720 rows of pixels for an "HD Ready" picture and 1080 rows of pixels for "full HD." This means that to technically be watching HD satellite through whatever source, not only must the source have the necessary resolution, but your monitor must be capable of displaying such a resolution, and must be set to display at such a resolution. Remember though that the definition of HD refers only to the number of pixels rather than their size or, in turn, the size of the screen. A lower resolution picture on a small computer monitor may subjectively appear better quality than a higher resolution on a large TV screen.
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