| By Lincoln Spector |
Not everyone has hardware to spare, but if you happen to have an extra Windows PC, you can put it to work entertaining you.
With a minor investment in time and money, you can set it up to record and play TV shows.
Don’t let your older hardware gather dust
If you’ve been a Windows user for some time or you’ve become enchanted with your new tablet or smartphone, it’s likely you have a spare PC or two taking up space in the closet. Before you sell, give away, or recycle that old box, consider giving it a second life as a digital video recorder (DVR). All you need is a PC powerful enough to make full-screen Internet videos look decent and run Windows 7, Vista, or XP Media Center Edition. You’ll be able to record your favorite programs — whether they’re broadcast in high definition or old-fashioned standard definition — and watch them at your leisure.
A Windows DVR has several advantages over that TiVo or the digital video recorder provided by your cable company:
- Assuming you already have a spare PC, it’s significantly cheaper to adapt it to its new job than to purchase dedicated hardware. And because you’re paying no monthly fees for your repurposed PC, even a low-cost, new PC may be cheaper in the long run.
- In addition to recording and playing TV shows, your PC comes with unlimited Internet capabilities. Your HDTV or Blu-ray player may support Netflix, VUDU, and a handful of other streaming Internet services, but a PC connected to a television can play any video available on the Internet.