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Old 2006-10-02, 01:17 PM   #1
stampeder
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Default USB2.0 Digital TV Tuners

Quote:
PCTV HD Pro Stick Overview

Bring digital HDTV with full DVR functionality to your laptop with Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick. Enjoy all of your favorite shows in high quality HD anytime and anywhere.
http://www.pinnaclesys.com/PublicSit...V+HD+Pro+Stick
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Old 2006-10-22, 08:55 AM   #2
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The new Hauppauge 950 looks very similar http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/produ...ta_hvr950.html
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Old 2006-10-23, 02:57 PM   #3
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And then there's this one from Autumn Wave.

http://www.autumnwave.com/content/view/30/166/

It's been getting some favourable reviews, notably from CNet and HDTVExpert, but the only place to buy it right now is from the manufacturer.
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Old 2006-10-23, 05:06 PM   #4
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Macintosh-based posts about portable OTA gear moved here:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=38850
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Old 2006-11-06, 11:55 AM   #5
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Default Customer Review of "Autumn Wave On-Air HDTV GT USB Tuner"

I pulled the trigger on the Autumn Wave On-Air HDTV GT that I linked to in Post #3. This is a mini-review of the product:

WOW!!!

Okay, here's a longer version of my review:

WOW!!! WOW!!!

But in all seriousness this product is truly great, and it delivers completely what it promises to.

I ordered the unit from Copperbox as the manufacturer's site does not ship to Canada (boo!) although in the coming months I'm sure you will be able to find it cheaper as On-Air will be distributing to many stores soon such as Walmart and RadioShack in the States. Hopefully they'll easily find their way up here.

The product description describes the unit as having LGs latest 5th Gen 8VSB chipset. The unit comes in a small retail box with the actual unit being about the size of small desktop calculator. It also comes with a USB cable, a small whipsnap antenna, an adaptor for you to plug in various S-Video AV peripherals into the unit if you so wish, a remote control, and a faux leather carrying case for protection as you bring it along with your laptop computer.

I live in downtown Toronto, on the 8th floor of a condo that has a south view with no balcony. The CN Tower is approximately 60 degrees east of my view out the window, and First Canadian Place is about 85 degrees east.
My laptop computer is a Dell XPS M1210 with an nVidia GeForce 7400 256MB videocard, Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz processor, and 2GB of 667MHz Dual Channel SDRAM.

I installed the latest drivers from the AutumnWave website then plugged in the unit to be recognized by the computer. I then installed the software. As soon as that was done I clicked on the application and the television viewing window came up. The whole process took less than 5 minutes.

The first thing you have to do is scan for channels, naturally. I set up the unit right by the window so it could receive as many channels as possible and scanned for DTV Air only (although you have the option to scan for ATV Air also). It took about 3 minutes to lock-on to the following channels:

CBLT-HD (>25dB)
CBLFT-HD (>25dB)
CFTO-HD (>25dB)
CKXT-HD (SunTV) (20-25dB)
Omni1-HD (19db)
CITY-HD (20-25dB)
and surprisingly I was able to get WNLO-HD and WNLO-SD (<20dB)
All looked crystal clear on my laptop computer.
I was also able to get WIVB-HD and a Radar channel as well but only with 15-18dB and the results were choppy.

I then repositioned the unit to point southwards more but could not receive any new channels, and in fact I dropped CITY-HD, both WNLO-HD and SD, and WIVB-HD and the Radar when I did this.

For fun, I then connected the unit to my Rogers cable outlet (with which I subscribe to DTV and HD) and did a scan of DTV Cable and ATV Cable channels. This took considerable longer due to the sheer number of Digital QAM channels and Analog channels available.
As predicted I was able to clearly receive all the Analog cable channels from 2 to 71, and nearly 30 unscrambled Digital QAM channels that I normally receive from my SA 8300HD PVR STB. The unit was also able to pick-up a large number of SCRAMBLED Digital QAM channels.

I then connected my laptop computer to my Panasonic Plasma monitor (model TH-50PH9UK) via VGA. I tuned to CFTO-HD via OTA during the Skate Canada tournament (for my wife, I swear) and I was awed by the picture. I did a Picture-By-Picture comparison of the the images I was receiving from the little unit connected to my laptop via VGA, to the same HD channel's images from Rogers and the SA STB connected by HDMI. I tweaked the settings of both inputs so that they would be as close to identical as I could get them with my eye. I have to say that apart from the OTA channel coming in about 2 seconds quicker (or should I say the Cable channel was coming in 2 seconds slower) there was no noticeable difference in the picture or sound quality of the 2 sources. I pretty much spent the whole weekend doing this Picture-by-Picture comparison for the channels I was able to receive OTA and found the picture quality to be consistently as good as what I was receiving via Rogers Cable.

This morning I took the unit to work at Yonge & Eglinton. I have a corner office on the 10th floor with a direct South view with no obstructions. I did a scan of DTV Air again and I was able to get the same channels I was able to get from home, but I also pulled in WUTV-HD and SD, WNED-HD and SD and WNED-Th (?), and Omni 2-HD, all clearly with >20dB.

I must point out that this OTA reception was all done with the small whipsnap antenna that came with the unit. Completely extended out it measures about 15cm. I am going to purchase a Zenith Silver Sensor or clone type antenna to see if I can improve these already fantastic results.

The unit is able to act as a PVR but I did not test this function other than to record OTA HD material in .ts format for short periods of time to see if there was a loss in picture quality in playback on Media Player Classic, but there was none. AWESOME!!!

I also connected the unit to my Dell Latitude D820 laptop which has a less robust video card than my XPS M1210 but saw the same crystal clear picture.

I highly recommend this product to anyone curious about OTA and HD picture quality and sound. I paid $169 US plus shipping (and taxes and duty, blah blah blah) which is about the same price as Samsung's new OTA STB tuner that is about to come to market soon.

Advantages:
Does what it promises, with excellent results.
Portable. Can be taken anywhere with your laptop, or you can use it as a permanent OTA tuner for your HTPC.
Has PVR functionality (although not tested).

Disadvantages:
Relatively expensive and currently you can get it only shipped from the US.

Conclusion:
This little unit is fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone who is curious about OTA Digital Television. The fact that it is portable means that if you're on the road all the time and want to watch TV, you can take it with you if you have a laptop computer.
Also, if you connect this to your computer and then to a HD monitor or HDTV that doesn't already have an ATSC tuner, you will be amazed at the picture quality. It is comparable to what you will receive from your HD digital cable or satellite provider.

This review is dedicated to hugh, stampeder (who, thanks to his OTA knowledge base, made me curious about it....OTA that is), and 57, all of whom whose contributions to this forum are greatly appreciated by me, and I'm sure by everyone else who receives and contributes knowledge to this forum.

Please feel free to ask any questions regarding this review.

Last edited by stampeder; 2006-11-06 at 10:30 PM. Reason: Added a title to this post.
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Old 2006-11-06, 02:10 PM   #6
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Hello Cyclism (and everyone else)...
I am the Technology Manager at AutumnWave, and wanted to express our thanks for your wonderful review of the OnAir GT!

I'd also like to make myself available to anyone else who has questions or comments regarding the OnAir HDTV tuners. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance to you (Cyclism) or anyone else.

Cyclism, I might suggest reading Pete Putman's Antenna comparison if you'd like to learn more about performance of various antennas.

Many thanks...
- Ryan Pertusio

AutumnWave Technical Support
OnAir Solution North America
http://www.autumnwave.com/
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Old 2006-11-06, 07:46 PM   #7
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Default Screencaps from the OnAir HDTV - Warning, images are huge

Here are some screencaps of OTA HD results I was able to get from the product I reviewed in Post #5:

Jeopardy on CFTO-TV, Monday, 06-11-2006, 19:30:
http://img456.imageshack.us/img456/3...vprograft4.jpg

Royal Canadian AirFarce on CBLT-HD, Monday, 06-11-2006, 19:33
http://img382.imageshack.us/img382/9...yalcanatt4.jpg

Smart Travels with Rudy Maxa on WNED-HD, Monday, 06-11-2006, 19:34
http://img489.imageshack.us/img489/5...marttranj9.jpg

I will next post some pictures of the picture-by-picture images of the OnAir product and the same channel via HDMI on my Rogers SA8300HD PVR on my Panasonic plasma.

Last edited by stampeder; 2006-11-06 at 09:25 PM. Reason: Image tags removed due to HUGE image sizes!
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Old 2006-11-06, 08:40 PM   #8
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Default More screencaps from the OnAir HDTV GT- Warning, images are huge

Hi all:

Thanks to a setting on my video card using nVidia's Pure Video Decoder, I realized that the screencaps I took previously displayed some interlacing. I have taken new screencaps for your perusal:

Doctor Who, CBLT-HD, 06-11-2006, 20:30:
http://img294.imageshack.us/img294/3...ctorwhool6.jpg

All of Us, WNLO-HD (The CW), 06-11-2006, 20:31:
http://img166.imageshack.us/img166/9...allofuslq7.jpg

Lincoln & Lee at Antietam, WNED-HD, 06-11-2006, 20:31:
http://img295.imageshack.us/img295/6...tietamthq9.jpg

As I stated in my previous post, the next batch of pics will be of picture-by-picture results.
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Old 2006-11-06, 09:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rpertusio View Post
I might suggest reading Pete Putman's Antenna comparison if you'd like to learn more about performance of various antennas.
Ryan, I do not recommend that old site to you, your customers, or to readers of this site.

Come to DHC's own OTA Knowledge Base & FAQ instead for its more thorough and helpful information and "real world" advice. Just click on the links :
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Old 2006-11-06, 10:23 PM   #10
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Default It was ATSC itself, not this particular tuner...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclism View Post
I have to say that apart from the OTA channel coming in about 2 seconds quicker (or should I say the Cable channel was coming in 2 seconds slower) there was no noticeable difference in the picture or sound quality of the 2 sources. I pretty much spent the whole weekend doing this Picture-by-Picture comparison for the channels I was able to receive OTA and found the picture quality to be consistently as good as what I was receiving via Rogers Cable.
Let's be clear here that what you saw was something that is common knowledge: ATSC 5th Generation chipsets (they've been out for almost 3 years now) provide superior picture quality to Digital QAM CATV.

On lower end systems the difference is negligable or not readily seen, but on higher end systems the ATSC edge is obvious. This means that you cannot credit the USB unit you tested with any particular success in this area - it is simply doing what the ATSC 5th Generation chipset standard says it will do. For that I'm glad.
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Old 2006-11-06, 11:14 PM   #11
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stampeder:

So am I. The point of my review was not to downplay Digital QAM HDTV. The sole point of my review was to tell DHCers of the great results I got from the USB unit that I tested, and to compare the results to what I was receiving from the USB OTA HDTV unit connected to my laptop and then connected to my PDP to what I was receiving from Rogers via Digital Cable HD from my SA8300HDPVR connected via HDMI to my PDP.
I know that the 5th Gen chipsets have been out for awhile on terrestrial STBs and larger HDTV PC tuners. I was pointing out the benefit of having such a capability on such a small and portable unit and getting no loss in picture quality, not to mention the added benefits of being able to record HD broadcasts for archiving to removable media if one so wishes.
Perhaps the best thing about this little USB unit is that it is a neat little way of receiving OTA HDTV broadcasts, which is why I ordered the unit in the first place after reading your OTA Knowledge Base and FAQ.
And thanks for editing the pics on my previous posts. As you said, the images are huge, but the actual file size of the pics are not, unless of course 100-200kbs are considered huge in today's broadband world.

Last edited by Cyclism; 2006-11-06 at 11:23 PM.
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Old 2006-11-07, 11:01 AM   #12
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Everyone:

I just want to clarify the situation here and perhaps explain why stampeder and I are going back and forth rather than him accepting my review for what it is worth.
This was my first experience with OTA Tuners.
The OnAir HDTV GT Tuner is a USB device that must be connected to a computer (laptop or otherwise) in order to function. I thought that was clear since this is the Portable USB 2.0 Tuner Devices thread. The USB device is NOT a standalone STB tuner that you can plug into your display device. It works in conjunction with your PC via software.
As I stated in the review, I plugged the USB device, which is the tuner itself, into my laptop computer. I then connected my computer to my Panasonic PDP via VGA cable. The software on the computer does the actual work and outputs to the PDP via my videocard. This is what led me to give such a great review because I was "WOWED!" by the results I was getting from OTA HDTV.
The USB device is just a tuner. It does not do any video processing or anything of the sort. It is just a tuner. If you have a decent computer setup as I did with both my robust HTPC laptop, and even with my less robust office laptop, you should get the same results as I did.
In my comparison of my OTA HDTV picture quality results vs. my Digital HDTV via Rogers results, I was not favouring one over the other. I was simply trying to explain that the OTA HDTV results were comparable. Because this was my first experience with OTA, I was WOWED!.
Hope this clarifies the situation.

Last edited by Cyclism; 2006-11-07 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 2006-11-08, 10:26 AM   #13
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I gather the "Autumn Wave On-Air HDTV GT" has NTSC, ATSC and QUAM tuners. Does it have a hardware MPEG encoder for the NTSC tuner (obviously one isn't needed for the ATSC and QUAM tuners)? Have you tried recording NTSC programs to see how well it does with them?
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Old 2006-11-08, 10:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roger1818 View Post
I gather the "Autumn Wave On-Air HDTV GT" has NTSC, ATSC and QUAM tuners. Does it have a hardware MPEG encoder for the NTSC tuner (obviously one isn't needed for the ATSC and QUAM tuners)? Have you tried recording NTSC programs to see how well it does with them?
Yes, it has NTSC, ATSC, and QAM tuners. I alluded to that in my review that I hooked up the device to an OTA antenna, but also to my Rogers cable outlet and scanned for channels. It picked up analog NTSC channels 2-71, as well as a number of unscrambled digital QAM, and SCRAMBLED digital QAM.

I didn't bother recording the NTSC programs because....they're NTSC, but I was able to successfully record OTA ATSC HDTV (specifically the CFL games on Sunday, and Heroes on Monday) in .ts format with no loss in picture quality from the original broadcast.

I apologize to everyone who has interest in the this thread. I said I was going to post pics of some Picture-by-Picture comparisons of the OTA ATSC HDTV results vs. Rogers Cable HDTV, but last night I was watching HDNet all night long.

I'll post the promised pics tonight.
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Old 2006-11-08, 11:07 AM   #15
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Also, to show that I'm not completely biased about the product I reviewed, here's an independent review of the Hauppauge unit from Post #2 in this thread which does the same things as the OnAir product.

http://www.notebookreview.com/defaul...V+Tuner+Review
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