We receive a huge number of press releases, and sometimes we have trouble figuring out what on earth the authors are talking about. This one was different. I contacted the PR folks and asked if we could try it. The release described a device about the size of a flash drive, packaging a TV tuner for PCs in a very compact form factor. The Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick delivers free digital HD and SD TV over-the-air (ATSC), unencrypted digital cable and FM radio as well as acting as a PVR. The price is less than $100.
There are two target markets. One is laptop users, travelers and students who want HD-quality TV at home or on-the-go. The other is owners of PCs based on Windows Media Center Edition (MCE) on Vista and XP who did not purchase a PC TV tuner with their systems or who want to upgrade to broadcast digital TV.
While we were staying at our Sanibel condo, I set up the device on my Sony VAIO laptop, followed the simple instructions and using the enclosed portable antenna. In minutes, I was watching the local over-the-air digital TV stations. When we were back in NJ, I did a scan for the local stations here and within minutes was back watching TV on my PC screen.
I haven't had a chance to put this unit through many of its paces, including hooking it up to my Cablevision digital settop, but my first impressions have been quite positive. Since Pinnacle is a division of Avid, the video software editing company, the unit also contains a copy of the VideoSpin editing software.