Hauppauge USB WinTV - HotHardware

Hauppauge USB WinTV

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 WinTV USB


 USB TV Tuner

Statistics have shown that the average American watches at least 10-20 hours of TV a week (give or take a few hours). However, ever since the introduction of computers, the average computer users probably watches less TV and surfs the net more. That's where the USB WinTV comes in to play. Starring at the computer screen all day and night can be boring and static, so let me introduce you to a device that will turn you back into a spud and into a chair potato.

Hauppauge the company is well known for their TV cards. Their use of the BT48 chipset has pretty much made them a standard for PC users of many OS's. Their PCI TV cards can be found at the local Office Max, Best Buy, Computer store, etc. I used to have one, and Used it quite a bit. There's nothing like sitting in front of your computer surfing the web, doing homework and still having the ability to watch TV in a small corner. Actually there is. How about being able to be out with your laptop outside or away from the office and still being able to watch the game?

This device lets you do that and more. The first thing you will notice is the color. Yes, it's that infamous iMac "bondi" blue color. If your blue-green color blind then it's probably a "bondi" green... heh. The unit itself is compact and and built tough. The USB cable is about 4 ft long and an Svideo to RCA input cable is included.

This Tuner will allow you to hook up and capture from just about any Coaxial, Svideo, RCA, video source. This is a cool feature if you need to take your laptop on the road and capture video from your camcorder to your laptop via the WinTV USB. My next outing will probably include my laptop, DSS satellite system DC/AC inverter and the USB Tuner....oh ya and a compass to point the dish properly.

Features:

  • WinTV-USB with 125 channel cable-ready TV tuner (mono audio)

  • Audio cable for connection to sound card

  • WinTV CD-Rom with software

Software:

WinTV application - for TV in a window
WinTV-snapshot for high resolution image captures
Microsoft Netmeeting and Internet Explorer 4 for video conferencing


The software that is included, WinTV2000 has a very nice looking interface. (see screen shots below). Video capturing with the software is pretty easy and even lets you save capture images as BMP, TGA, GIF, and JPG formats. Video is captured as AVI. The video compression is using a 4:2:2 sampling rate. The software even gives you the option of watching up to 16 channels at the same time. Now that's what I would call Picture in, Picture in, Picture in ... blah blah blah.

So if you can spare a little desktop space or want a tuner you can take anywhere, you should look into this USB tv tuner. Most new computers now have USB so it can be installed within 5 minutes on any Win98 machine equipped with USB.

Test Machine:

Laptop K6-2 380 MHz
12.1" Active TFT screen
96 MB memory
2 MB Trident 2D video card
2.2 GB Hard Drive
Windows 98
Direct X 7 beta

NOTE: On a desktop system the performance is more than likely going to be better with a better video card.

  Performance: Using the tuner on my DSS satellite system worked well. In windowed mode the 2 different TV applications worked like it's PCI version does. The only drawback is the video seems to pull a lot of system resources if you don't have a decent video card. The opening of other applications running in the background seem to slow down the video playback. The image quality is decent also. But if you switch to full screen mode, then the speed of playback and quality of the image will decrease. Based on my experience, this device is best run in small window.

Screenshots:



Conclusion:
This TV tuner is very easy to install under Windows 98, gives you adequate input options and is portable, although it would be nice if the frame rate was higher. There are no power cables needed due to the fact that the USB cable carries the power for the unit. If your a laptop owner or a couch potato on the move, then I would recommend it. It is an interesting little gadget that looks cool. Hmm must be that translucent blue color. :-)

 
       

 We give the WinTV-USB a "Temp-O-Meter" rating of...

93 !!

 (Temp-O-Meter scores are rated on a number of key metrics including performance, stability, ease of installation, compatibility, feature set, "overclockability" and component quality. A perfect score is 100 )
     
 -Tim

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