TV tuner specialist Hauppauge has released a new tuner card for your PC that means you can receive free-to-air HD channels for a one-off payment of £99. You will, however, need an existing satellite dish - eBay (opens in new tab) and Maplin (opens in new tab) will do well out of this one.
The Nova HD S2 fits into the PCI slot of your PC just like any other TV tuner card. Beyond the TV licence, you can receive certain HD satellite channels - more on that in a moment. The card can also record programmes to disk in the original hi-definition H.264 format. The DiSEqC 1.0 protocol is also supported, allowing switching between four satellite sources.
Included with the Nova HD S2 is CyberLink PowerCinema application for full screen TV or TV-in-a-window on the PC. You will need to have a high-end PC though, with 3.2 GHz processor or faster, or Intel Core Duo processor, with 512 MB of RAM minimum, 1GB recommended.
However, free-to-air HD remains somewhat limited. The BBC's channel is the only fixture at present and even that remains a trial service that may end on November 21. That's when the BBC Trust assesses if the corporation should launch a permanent nine-hours-per-day service.
However, it's highly likely BBC HD will continue since the Trust has already indicated the channel's existence will be essential to the success of Freesat , due for launch next year.