back to article PCTV NanoStick T2 USB TV tuner

Ten years ago, investing in a PC TV tuner seemed a neat way of watching while you work – integrating the gogglebox with laptop or desktop duties. Today, the idea is more questionable given access to on-line video streaming and download services from the likes of YouTube and the BBC iPlayer respectively. PCTV Nanostick T2 PCTV's …

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stress testing

Be nice to see some stress testing pulling multiple channels from a multiplex, which I don't believe WMC allows. Seen enough tuners crap out in various ways with 2 or 3 channels in use to always test this.

Some idea of how hot it runs would be a good start, both my failed USB tuners ran too hot to touch before failing.

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Have recorded from at least 2 HD channels at the same time without issues

Obviously they are on the same multiplex. For recording off channels of two different multiplexes of course you would need a dual tuner. But since there is only 1 HD multiplex at the moment a dual dvb-t2 tunner would be overkill when you can just buy a normal dvb-t usb stick for peanuts.

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Hardware Spec

What was the hardware spec of the test machine? I'm wondering what one of these would be like with a Atom/ION based machine.

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fine on ion

It works fine and doesn't get hot. I've got one plugged into a Eee Box EB1012U using WMC7 and HD is flawless. You've got to have the ion though, software decoding doesn't work well on an atom.

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work fine

I built one inside the hackintosh I build 2 years ago. worked a treat.

pics and video of it playing tv here:

http://powerlord.smugmug.com/Gadgets/Making-a-Macbook-Nano

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using Atom processor

had a similar one (Hauppauge, like this but different model, only £40) plugged in to an ASUS EEE 1015PX with no problems at all.

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Minimum System Requirements

■Microsoft® Windows 7® or Windows Vista with latest Service Pack, 1 GB RAM

■Or Windows XP (32 bit) with latest Service Pack, 512 MB RAM

■Intel® Pentium® 4 2.0 GHz, Pentium M 1.3 GHz or equivalent AMD® Athlon® XP

■For HDTV: 2,6 GHz multi core processor

■Hard disk with min. 1 GB free capacity (20 GB free capacity recommended)

■Sound and graphics with support for DirectX® 9 or higher

■USB 2.0 port

■CD/DVD drive for software installation

■Recommended: Internet connection for software updates and activations

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Did you try this on Linux?

because it seems that most of the magic is in the software.

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Linux

Nag, nag, nag, bloody titles. Nag. If I'm replying shouldn't it do it for me?

I was gonna say exactly the same thing, but it looks like people are - even though its not perfect. Take a look at:

http://stevekerrison.com/290e/

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Anonymous Coward

Higher End versions of windows?

That's a little disingenuous.

Media centre is included in all but the most basic versions of vista or 7. For 7 that means everything but the netbook starter edition.

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HD EPG?

All your EPG examples appear to omit the HD channels.

Does the supplied software decode the "encrypted" HD EPG?

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EPG Only on Windows 7 Media Center

Only devices that have signed up to the Freeview HD certification are allowed to get the key to the encrypted Freeview HD EPG. The only software that does this is the Win 7 version of media center. But that is a good thing as to get certification to the get the EPG the device / software has to embed DRM in your recordings. I don't want this so am happy not to have it. As a work around you just use other programs to get xml listing from the internet.

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Linux

drivers in latest Linux kernel

Works well in MythTV.

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Stop

EPG screenshot

Why is BBC 1 on channel 9? I was thinking about buying this, but have seen people complaining about the numbering system. I wonder how it performs under Linux.

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Becuase of the TV Center Software

The TV Center software cannot work out what are the right channel numbers to assign to which channels. It assigns them in the order the channels are scanned. And you cannot set them properly manually either. The company know this and blew me off when I reported it as a problem. Windows Media Center, and the free NPVR can correctly do this though, just not the bundled software.

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FAIL

Need better antenna or stronger towers

If all you could get is one channel in your area then it's not really much good is it.

Nearly all freeview channels that can be picked up through the stick can also be picked up online, tvcatchup etc. So if you're at home, you could just stream it over your internet.

The only time you'd want to use this is when you're out and about. And based on what you've said, it's no good when you're out and about!

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The only time you'd want to use this...

...might be the only time *you'd* want to use it, but it's not the only time others would want to use it.

Streaming live/recorded TV is all well and good if you've got a decent broadband connection, but isn't much good for people with ropey connections or no connections at all, and might not be much good for people with fast enough connections hobbled by download limits.

Then, as you say, *nearly* all Freeview channels can be viewed online. So anyone who wants to watch one of the other channels is going to be stuck no matter how good their network connection is.

At home I've got a broadband connection easily good enough to stream HD content all day long without any fuss, but my mediacentre PC still has a dual DVB-T tuner card fitted (and will be getting a HD upgrade at some point) because it's more convenient for me - if I want to watch something I don't have to think to myself "hmm, which website do I need to visit to stream this show", or be faced with a "sorry, this programme isn't available online" message. Also, since I tend to catch up on some shows on the bus/train/etc, having them recorded in a form which is easy to convert into something my Desire S can play is also rather handy.

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nice, especially like the price

... and lack of bulk. Always wanted to try freeview HD but not enough space on the shelf, now have good excuse :)

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm...

It's funny you should mention that - I'd really like Freeview HD, and I won't have anything else on the shelf, but I've managed to spin that to get the capex approved (by she who must be obayed) to buy a new LCD/Freeview HD telly to replace our aging CRT.

Just thought I'd mention... ;)

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Happy

Money money money

Play currently have this on offer for £58

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Unhappy

more money

Just looked at Play. £72.50

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Good but expensive

I've got one of these and it's a decent tuner, note that USB tuners aren't just for laptops. Mine are connected to my Acer Revo which has no PCI slots so no other way to add tuners.

I've not installed the software so can't comment on whether or not the HD EPG is decoded. I use mine with Media Centre which downloads the guide for those channels from the net.

It's a shame Media centre isn't capable of pulling multiple channels from a single multiplex. All the freeview HD stuff is on a single multiplex so that would mean you only ever need one DVB-T2 tuner. I think I paid £75 for mine but that's still a lot of money for a single TV tuner. My dual DVB-T tuner cost £20.

Hopefully more manufactures will get products to market as the standard is adopted in more countries.

Also this nanostick isn't just a rare beast among portable tuners, it's rare amongst all tuners. I only know of two tuners on the market that can receive DVB-T2.

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Happy

The alternative (and preferable?)

The BlackGold BGT3620 is the alternative I believe, and while it's an internal PCI express card, it operates as a dual DVB-T2 tuner. Is roughly the same price bracket I think.

You're right though, the T2 devices are expensive, as in the case of all new tech. My original DVB-T (single tuner) cost £100 way back when. In fact I recall my analogue Win-TV card costing upwards of £80 in the late 90s.

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HD Recording?

Can you record HD-TV with the Revo and one of these then? All stand-alone HD PVR's on the market encrypt the HD recordings, or block you from exporting them off the PVR.

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another option?

how about the dual dvb-t2 card TBS 6280 , anyone has already tried? i'm considering buying one between the BlackGold BGT3620 and the TBS 6280...

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Anonymous Coward

DVB-T & ATSC

I wonder if anybody will every make a dongle like this that can do both DVB-T (Freeview) and ATSC (US TV).

Yes, there are differences in the modulation scheme (OFDM vs. 8-VSB) but since these are largely software defined radios as is, that may not be a big deal.

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Challenge the review idea....

.... that since it is usb it is only meant for mobile devices. This is false. I brought mine to use in my HTPC. Why you ask? Well PCI TV cards can be temperamental, that is if you have any PCI slots nowadays. Where as in my experience USB stick don't have so many hardware issues / conflicts and you always are likely to have a free USB slot.....

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FAIL

just because it's small and usb....

just because it's small and usb why does that mean it should be used for travel use?

Already mentioned by someone but worth repeating: I use a usb tv tuner on my mac mini media center.

Just because YOU would use it as a travel device, doesn't mean everyone else would. Open your mind a little.

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HD recording?

Okay, so it's perhaps not as user-friendly as a dedicated HD freeview PVR, but does this allow you to record HD, unencrypted, so you can back it up onto anther device and play it there (thinking NAS storage)? The lack of this in any other pvr that know of is what's been stoopping me getting a freeview hd pvr soo far. I have a revo sitting ready for this, using xbmc on win7 normally.

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Reason for streaming option

The streaming option would be handy when your travels take you outside the UK. The media vultures consider you a pirate/thief/freetard/enemy of the State if you have the gall to try to watch a UK catch-up site with a non-UK IP address. So when you are off in France and want to see that "can't miss program" the streaming option would allow you to connect back to your UK based device. I do this with an old Slingbox all the time.

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Unhappy

Net books?

People have asked about the minimum specs, but does it actually work on Net books? I've yet to find any that do, Win7 starter does not contain Media Centre and the drivers seem to crash when used with the units own user interface, even the latest versions claimed to be Win7 compatible rather than XP or vista.

Lastly, £80 is ridiculous even with HD capability given the average price of SD ones is around £15.

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TinyTwin

TinyTwin usb tuner from digitalnow has been out for years. Nothing new here.

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FAIL

I'd agree with you...

...if this was a review of a boring old DVB-T tuner. But it isn't, is it.

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Boffin

Actually there is something new...

... this PCTV NanoStick T2 supports DVB-T2 for HDTV broadcasts in the UK (i.e. Freeview HD). From what I've found the TinyTwin is a DVB-T stick only, that is, in the UK it won't pick up HD broadcasts (although it may well pick up HD broadcasts in other countries which broadcast HDTV over DVB-T rather than DVB-T2 which the UK use for HDTV).

Rob

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TBS 6280-Freeview HD Twin Tuner Card

I've got one TBS 6280 DVB T2 dual tuner card from BuyDVB Ecommerce. I must say, It is a great DVB T/T2 tuner card for watching Freeview SD and HD TV channels. The signal is stable and the speed is fast. All Freeview channels in a perfect HD quality. I am so pleased to see such a new DVB HDTV PC card. I believe it is going to be more popular in UK. £103 is reasonable for two tuner. Less than £60 for each tuner, it is worthy.

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