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Pinnacle PCTV HD Mini Stick

(with Tim Geoghan)

Watching Internet video on your computer is great, with amazing stuff on YouTube and network shows on Hulu.com. But sometimes there's use for old fashioned broadcast TV, especially for breaking news, live sports, and new episodes of favorite series -- when you're traveling, or just want to watch some TV in a cramped home office or dorm room.

So hook up an antenna to your computer, and start watching. OK, you'll also need some TV tuning hardware, which can't get much smaller then the new Pinnacle PCTV HD mini Stick -- A compact USB dongle only around 2 inches long.

Connect the HD mini Stick to the included telescopic TV antenna, install the Pinnacle TV software, and you're watching digital over-the-air TV (ATSC), standard-definition SDTV and high-def HDTV up to 1080i. The stick also can connect to your cable TV to watch unencrypted digital cable (ClearQAM).


But the Stick does not work for legacy analog broadcast TV (NTSC) -- which is due to be turned off in February 2009 anyway in the last step of the Digital TV Transition.

The somewhat larger PCTV HD Ultimate Stick (see previous post) supports both analog and digital TV, plus Clear QAM -- and the software runs directly from the device, with no installation required ($129).

The PCTV HD mini Stick pulls in great-looking TV with the included antenna, including full-screen HDTV -- as long as you are in range of digital broadcast signals (see AntennaWeb.org), and you have a recent computer with enough processing power. There's even a mini remote control to help you sit back and enjoy and a program guide to see what's on.

The Pinnacle software also supports TV recording / time-shifting (pause and rewind) [but not HD], and TV recording straight to DVD. The product also includes Pinnacle VideoSpin to trim recorded clips.

The Pinnacle PCTV HD mini Stick is $119 for Windows, $129 for Mac.

See my Home Media Gallery for more on PC TV and video in the home.

    Find the Pinnacle PCTV HD Mini Stick on Amazon.com

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This entry posted on November 9, 2008.

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