Published on September 8th, 2008 | by Greg0
Pinnacle Brings HDTV to USB. Easy
Despite the rocky start, HDTV seems to be catching on. There are finally some stations for you to watch, gaming systems that support it, and reasonably-priced televisions and projectors.
Of course, if you’re like me, you would rather not spend a few thousand dollars on yet another screen. Your computer monitor is already pretty good, and if it isn’t, now is a great time to look at those over-20-inch flat panels that are on sale. It’ll be cheaper than a new HDTV, and look almost as good (if not better, depending on your pocketbook).
The only issue then is turning your computer into a source for HDTV- you could use a tuner card, like the one we reviewed not long ago. Or you could check out an easier solution- a small dongle about the size of an iPod nano that plugs into your USB port and serves as a tuner. Thanks to the speed of USB 2.0, and the included antenna, you can be watching HDTV on your PC in minutes, without opening your case. And the Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick works great with laptops as well, provided you are running Windows XP and have a pretty fast processor (2.4 GHZ or above).
The bundled media center software is pretty darn good, not as fully-featured as the Media Center Edition of Windows XP, but pretty easy to use and reasonably fast. And provided you have HDTV signals being broadcast in your area, the sound and video quality are excellent- the included antenna is decent enough, but we only managed mediocre signals until we tried it in a high rise 20 stories up. This, of course, could be because Hawaii isn’t exactly HDTV central.
The device also will work for regular TV, but does cost more than your average tuner/capture card- $130 retail. However, the included remote, great software, and neat remote make the Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro easy to recommend. And best of all, you can use the included adapter to capture or view other sources, though live viewing lags some through these composite and S-video inputs.