Recommended USB TV tuners for Linux
Note: All of the products below work on Windows as well. However, the article is written from a Linux user’s perspective.
If you want to watch live TV on your PC or media center you will need a TV tuner. For a NUC or similar computer, you will need one that is connected via USB bus.
I’ve been working a while with TV tuners in Linux environment. This article tries to list recommended USB tuners Linux supports and that are available for purchase. There are several supported devices that are not available on the market any more, so it does not make sense to list them there. I’ve split the article based on the broadcasting standard. Before buying a tuner, you will need to find out what is the television broadcasting standard you want to receive. Generally speaking it is DVB standards in Europe, Asia (except China and Japan), Australia and Africa, ATSC/ClearQAM in the North America and ISDB-T in South America. There are expections though.
2014-12-01 First version out.
2015-06-24 Updated to reflect current situation.
DVB-T2 / DVB-C tuners
All the products I have listed below are capable of receiving DVB-T, DVB-T2 and DVB-C broadcasts. Having a flexible device like that is an advantage, in case you need to move from a cable-TV location to a terrestrial-TV only location. Linux kernel support for these devices has been improving quite a bit lately, so if you’re not running a recent kernel (such as Linux 3.18), you might consider compiling the linuxtv.org media_build that enables you to use the new drivers with older kernels. I have written a separate article about this.
PCTV tripleStick 292e
The original PCTV 290e was the first DVB-T2 supported by Linux. PCTV 292e is the successor of that device. The looks aside, they’re very different devices inside. The 292e is supported since Linux kernel 3.16. In case you are running OpenELEC, the device is supported since OpenELEC 4.2.
TechnoTrend TT-TVStick CT2-4400
The TechnoTrend TT-TVStick CT2-4400 is the device I use in my NUC every day for receiving DVB-T2 and DVB-T broadcasts. It works well and is reasonably priced. The original CT2-4400 is supported in Linux kernel 3.17 and the newer CT2-4400v2 is supported since version 3.19. This device is also supported in OpenELEC 5.0 and newer.
TechnoTrend TT-connect CT2-4650CI
If you need a CI slot for conditional access module (CAM) your options are rather limited. TechnoTrend TT-connect CT2-4650 CI is currently almost the only option. It is a bulkier device than the previous three and has its own power supply. Supported since kernel 3.18 / OpenELEC 5.0.
Just get yourself a cheap DVB-T stick from. Many of them do work fine in Linux.
I have one of these RTL2832U based devices. It cost less thanand works fine.
What is common with the DVB-S/S2 devices is that all of them require an external power supply as the USB bus is not able to provide enough juice for the LNB handling. The devices below all use the Montage M88DS3103 demodulator and M88TS2102 tuner. These seem to work fine in my use.
Low cost DVB-S tuner. Drivers included in kernel 3.18. Supported in all OpenELEC versions.
The first M88DS3103 supported by the kernel. Drivers included in kernel 3.14. Supported in OpenELEC 4.2 and later.
One of the few devices that come with a slot for a CAM module. Drivers included in kernel 3.19. Supported in all OpenELEC versions.
As I’m based in Europe, I don’t know too much about the ATSC or ClearQAM tuners. However, I’ve tried to collect a list of devices that are known to work. These devices support both ATSC and ClearQAM.
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-950Q / 955Q
The 950Q model is discontinued, so availability is limited. It is known to work fine. There’s a successor Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-955Q that has Linux drivers now as well. Kernel 4.1 has the support and for earlier kernels, media_build can be used to add support for older kernels. OpenELEC 6.0 supports HVR-955Q out of the box.
There are 3 versions of this device. All of them do have Linux support. The version 1 of this device rarely surfaces these days, but version 2 and 3 are more common. Version 2 is supported since 3.13 and version 3 since 3.15. Supported in OpenELEC 4.2 and newer. Issues have been reported with QAM modes, but ATSC should work ok.
Information regarding ISDB-T is even more difficult to find and I have absolutely no first hand experience. Any experience with the device below or suggestions for other devices that are on the market would be appreciated.
Geniatech S870 is pretty much the only device that seems to be still for sale and is supported by Linux.
Find one fromor AliExpress.