A reader asks: “Is there a gadget with a USB port available, so that you can see TV on your computer or use your computer as a TV? What About Rabbit TV Plus?”

There are ways to view live TV on your PC. Some PCs actually have built-in TV tuners.  That was one of the features available with Windows Media Center, which unfortunately is not offered in Windows 10.

You could also purchase a TV Tuner/ Capture stick or box like the Hauppage Win TV HVR TV Stick. I’ve seen quite a few for around $100.  This will allow you to pick up live TV signals on your PC. But you will need to live somewhere where you can pick up signals with an antenna and connect the antenna’s signal to your tuner with a cable.

hauppage stick

Rabbit TV isn’t really a device that allow you to view anything. The USB drive offers a collection of links to sites where you can already view streaming TV and watch videos on the web. They have done the work of compiling the links for you, but the USB stick doesn’t give you any technical capabilities that you didn’t already have.

rabbit-tv

The Rabbit TV Plus service has switched from selling you an USB stick to a subscription for $10 a year. But again, they aren’t giving you any capabilities that you didn’t already have without it. They’re just collecting links to where you can find free TV, music and games already available for free online.  It will also show you what’s available on services like Netflix, but you need to already have a Netflix subscription to watch.

I wouldn’t call it a scam, because they are actually collecting those links for you, which does save you the work of searching online. To some folks, having someone do that sort of research for you may be worth $10 a year. And since it is a subscription service, I would hope that they would be regularly checking and updating the information.

But it doesn’t allow you to watch over-the-air signals on your TV. The local station or the national channel you wish to watch must make that programming available online. In some case you’ll find that you can only stream the programming online if you log with an account from your cable or satellite provider.

For things like local news, it will depend on whether or not that station livestreams their broadcasts or breaking news.

Another option is SlingTV, which does allow you to watch a selection of national channels live for a subscription fee.

Services such as Netflix and Hulu offer many favorite shows on demand, but you will have to pay a subscription fee.

~ Cynthia