OnAir Solution’s bus-powered USB HDTV-GT has more features than Pinnacle’s PCTV HD Pro Stick, but it comes at the cost of bulk.
About the size of a portable USB hard drive, the HDTV-GT has a key advantage over the Pinnacle device: its “in the clear” QAM capability. This allows the HDTV-GT to display the programs of cable TV systems that broadcast unencrypted signals. Many cable companies broadcast local stations over their networks, which you’ll receive even if you pay only for basic cable.
In head-to-head reception comparisons with the antennas about three feet apart from each other, both units were able to pull in the same channels. Like the Pro Stick, the HDTV-GT offers basic time-shifting and electronic program guide capabilities, as well as video capture modes.
One complaint, however, concerns the size of the HDTV-GT’s remote; it’s freakishly huge—a misstep for a device intended for notebook users. But despite its bulk, the HDTV-GT remote worked far better than the Pro Stick’s, which didn’t always connect with the tuner.
The HDTV-GT’s tuner application is also more polished and allows you to do such things as schedule the thread priority for the tuner above other applications. The HDTV-GT even includes support for Nvidia’s PureVideo Decoder for cleaner video display. We couldn’t see a difference when comparing the output, though.
It’s a tough choice between the two, but we have to lean toward the HDTV-GT for its QAM support. Even though we’re against paying for HDTV signals, we’re not against paying for basic cable, because you have no choice when the man has you over a barrel.
+ WELCOME BACK, KOTTER: QAM decrypting gives the HDTV-GT the edge.
- ROOM 222: Remote is too big and the tuner’s a little chunky, too.