USB TV for laptop?

Hey all,

I'm looking to get a USB tuner so I can watch and record stuff on my laptop (i don't have a desktop) - any recommendations? I know there's an ATI tuner and a Dazzle tuner, but I don't know anything about how they perform, or if there's a smaller vendor that may have something better. Or maybe there's a PCMCIA tuner (though I'd really rather get a USB tuner since I can also use that with a desktop if I want)?

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  1. I have been using an OnAir HDTV GT USB combo tuner. It works very well on my HP Pavilion dv1000 notebook.

    Buy at Autumwave

    Note that this USB tuner is powered solely by the USB 2.0 port; no AC adpater is required. Its about the size of a thick PDA.

    The analog tuner uses a software MPEG encoder. So, your CPU will doing the encoding when you watch standard definition analog TV.

    The HD tuner is very good as well.

    For excellent HD televising, use the OnAir with a notebook with a high resolution, wide screen notebook.

    There are other USB tuners. OnAir's HDTV Creator, which must use external power source.

    Vbox and Dvico have USB tuners as well. The Dvico FusionHDTV is also powered by the USB port.

    The smallest HD USB tuner appears to be the Artec T14A. It about the size of a thick USB storage stick.

    The Artec is solely an HT tuner, no SD analog.

    Again, my experience has been with the OnAir GT.
  2. I own the Dvico FusionHDTV Gold USB and am very happy with it. I got it for use with my Compaq R4000 laptop after I gave my old desktop (which had an ATI All-In-Wonder) to my sister.

    It looks like the OnAir HDTV GT USB is comparable. It costs a bit more but apparently has a lower power draw.

    Both products come with the necessary software, a remote, A/V dongle and a little antenna. Both are powered by USB and both easily fit in your laptop bag. Both are for NTSC standard & high-definition. And both use the LG 5th-generation HDTV chip.

    Being able to watch HDTV anywhere with my laptop is enough to put a smile on my face. I don't think you'll be disappointed with either one. If you want more info check out and do a search on 'USB tuner'.

    here is a link to my Dvico:
  3. Divco Fusion Gold a very good choice, you'll love it :wink:
  4. Hi,
    Let me introduce myself. I am the Technology Manager at AutumnWave. We are the exclusive N. American distributor for OnAir Solution. Thanks BruxBox for describing what our products are (The OnAir HDTV GT and the OnAir HDTV Creator.)

    Kallenin, What you may not know is that OnAir manufacturered and patented the world's first USB HDTV device (known as the 'Sasem' tuner) in 2003. Since then, we have unveied the OnAir Creator and OnAir GT.

    The GT and the Creator will both be able to connect to your laptop and your desktop (simply plugging in the USB 2.0 cable.) The Creator is powered through a wall adapter, and includes a hardware encoder. The GT is a small 'portable' tuner that gets its power from the USB port-- so no external power supply is required (as BruxBox mentioned.)

    Both devices have the latest 5th generation LG tuner (which eliminates multipath issues and improves reception in 'fringe' areas.) Both support Analog TV (NTSC) and Digital TV (ATSC) from the Antenna or Cable (unencrypted QAM).

    There's a lot more to learn about our products (and I hate to sound like I'm advertising the product), but you can feel free to email ( or PM me if you have any further quesitons.

    Our website (as BruxBox said) is:

    - Ryan Pertusio
    AutumnWave Technical Support
    OnAir Solution North America
  5. Thanks for the info. What kind of difference in quality is there between the two versions? Also, an estimate of how much battery the portable one consumes would be great. Finally, I'm a bit worried about how sensitive the tuner might be to ambient (like nearby radiation source), and the sturdiness of the unit.

    Oh yeah - one more very important thing for me - does the unit have its own hardware/software filtering (DSP), and is it user-tunable?

  6. Kallenin,
    The difference between the OnAir Creator and OnAir GT quality are only in Analog inputs. The Creator uses a hardware encoder, so the performance & quality for Analog inputs (NTSC, S-Video, Composite) is improved for the Creator. (The GT uses a software encoder, so the quality and performance is slightly decreased... but the price is about $70 cheaper.)

    If using the Creator, the power usage is lower (because power is supplied through an external power supply.) The OnAir GT's power is drawn from the USB port... at about 0.47 amps. The CPU usage for decoding full HDTV is about 40-60%. Your mileage will vary, simply because there are so many variables in laptops. I hope the above information does help give you an idea of how much power it consumes, though. (A note... other manufacturers that have tried to duplicate our devices not only have inferior hardware, but often they draw up to 0.3 amps more than ours.)

    Regarding a nearby radiation source... do you refer to the laptop itself? If so, we've not experienced any significant issues with interference. The 5th generation LG tuner is quite robust in filtering signal issues.

    I will follow-up with an answer regarding DSP when I have a definite answer from our engineers.

    - Ryan Pertusio
    AutumnWave Technical Support
    OnAir Solution North America
  7. Thanks for the great info. The numbers on the power definitely help. Looks like I'd better get that 9-cell battery. :)

    My particular concern regarding the amount of filtering is whether or not I will still need to do any touch up before I can compress. When I'm recording things like TV series that air daily, I only have a day to do any processing and compression, so the more the box does itself, the less I have to do and hence less hassle. Do you know how large a typical 30-minute show ends up being at highest quality recording (using the built-in filtering and compression)? Also, can the tuner act like a hardware encoder and help me take load off of the CPU when compressing video in a normal computing environment (or does the unit only process its own inputs)?

  8. Kallenin,
    By nature, Digital TV is already encoded. It is broadcasted in MPEG2 and 'wrapped' in a "Transport Stream'. Typical file sizes for recording a transport stream at highest quality for 30 minutes would be around 4.5GB. ATSC spec's allow a stream to be up to 19.2mbps.

    The hardware encoder (in the Creator), as far as I am aware, cannot be delegated for other tasks outside of encoding for Analog inputs.

    - Ryan Pertusio

    AutumnWave Technical Support
    OnAir Solution North America
  9. Hi,

    In speaking of file sizes, I was referring to the analog encoding. Most of my use for the PVR would be on basic cable channels broadcast in analog, so I want to make sure that I get one that will either (1) do a good job with the filtering and encoding, or (2) give me fully uncompressed raws so I can do the processing myself.

  10. Ryan

    My handle at AVSForum is GeekFunk, FYI.
  11. Quote:
    In speaking of file sizes, I was referring to the analog encoding.

    I apologize for misunderstanding!

    Here is a screen capture I made for you with Analog encoding options...


    The file size varies depending on the settings chosen above. (The 'Space for 1 hour recording' updates when you change the settings.) The 'Good' setting as shown uses 2.872GB at 6000Kbps.

    The OnAir GT product uses a software encoder, and the bottom 3 checkboxes are unavailable (VBR, Closed GOP, Inverse Telecine). The OnAir Creator has a hardware encoder, and all options are available. The Creator also uses less CPU, and produces higher quality output for Analog TV.

    Kallenin, If you would be interested in any of our products, it seems like the 'Creator' would be your best fit!

    BruxBox, Hello :) Nice to see you over here too! (BruxBox refers to the AVSForum thread here: AutumnWave / OnAir USB HDTV Tuners)
  12. Hello out there,
    My name is Joel and what I'm looking for is a way to watch my home television on my Dell laptop when I travel to Russia, Romania, the Ukraine, South America and other places in Africa. Is there a software and device that I can use with my home cable, or DISH NETWORK system or the existing system that I already have in my home by AT&T called U-VERSE which uses a modem and 'optics' and the phone line??? The resolution on my 1080 Samsung television is beautiful.
    I knew that Sony had a device called SLINGBOX that allowed tv viewing anywhere in the world as long as you had the CATV service in your home and Internet access to your computer.... Can anyone out there help with a suggestion or product referral??
  13. What's the best laptop for watching home-television on my many trips in foreign airports and in foreign countries like Russia, Romania, Brazil, South Africa and other countries??
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