So your buddy with the new plasma TV won´t shut up about how great the game looks in high-def. He´s right-it is like watching a whole new sport. But you don´t have to splurge on a 50-inch flat screen to quell your HD envy. Stations across the country broadcast HD signals over the air, absolutely free. And since most laptop screens already have enough resolution to display high-def, all you need is an HD tuner that plugs into a USB port on your Mac or PC, and you can enjoy the ultracrisp picture at home or away. Let´s see Mr. Plasma do that.
How to get more stations and better reception: Depending where you live, a bigger indoor antenna, like the Zenith ZHDTV1 ($40; zenith.com), may improve your HD signal. Place it in a window and point it toward the nearest broadcast tower. Find more antenna tips at
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- ** Find High-Def Channels:** Visit antennaweb.org and type in your address to find out which stations broadcast free over-the-air HD signals in your area. You should get the major networks, and you may get a handful of other channels, like PBS or CW.
- Install the Equipment: Get the Artec T14A Mini USB 2.0 Digital TV Tuner ($100; artectv.com) for Windows or the EyeTV Hybrid ($150; elgato.com) for Mac, connect the tuner to its included mini antenna, and plug it into your laptop´s USB port. Install the software, and set your screen to its highest resolution. You´ll need a laptop no more than a couple years old to avoid a choppy picture.
- Record the Shows: Most tuners include software for saving video to your hard drive, TiVo-style. An hour of recorded TV will take up about 400 megabytes of hard-drive space.