Gadget Friday: Pinnacle USB PCTV HD Mini Stick


Scott McGrew:
Scott McGrewWatch Gadget Friday Video

Pinnacle USB PCTV HD Mini Stick ($119)
Cost: $119
More info on Pinnacle’s web site

Here’s an unusual device for you: It’s a small stick that goes into the USB port of your laptop or desktop and – using a collapsible antenna – can receive live television signals. Included software means you can record TV, much like a TiVo.

The picture is quite clear, as the device uses the new digital receiver technology (and thus will be usable after next February) and if your computer’s display is up to it, the image will be high definition.

Reception in our tests was spotty – the local public television station came in beautifully, but we could not see several other major network stations. This is less the fault of the device and more the vagaries of television signals. You can, if you wish, hook the USB device right into your home’s big rooftop antenna, if you still have one.

The device can also be attached to a digital cable signal, but not analog cable or any satellite service.

After testing the Pinnacle USB PCTV HD Mini Stick for awhile, I can’t help but wonder WHY you would need it. Let’s say, for instance, you wanted to watch “The Office.” You could insert your Pinnacle device into your laptop on Thursday night at just the right time, or just watch it on the excellent web service Hulu, on Netflix on Demand, or on iTunes.

Sure, there might be situations where you needed to watch live television – our morning newscast comes to mind – but otherwise there are so many wonderful ways to watch TV on your computer, it makes watching actual broadcast TV a bit silly.

Scott McGrew
NBC Bay Area Business & Tech Reporter


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