Recently I have noticed that the word “nano” is being used to describe a number of computer peripherals. When used precisely as a prefix, the word “nano” refers to a measurement of 10^ -9 or one billionth – in other words something extremely small. However in the hands of the marketing brigade, it is generally used to describe a device that is smaller than the accepted standard. One example of this is the PCTV nano stick from Pinnacle.
This USB TV receiver unit is smaller than competitive devices (even smaller than most USB memory sticks but not the penny-size USB receiver currently being supplied with various Logitech kit) with a length of just 55mm. Also forming part of this kit are a small remote control unit (batteries included); mini-rod antenna with magnetic foot; antenna adapter for use with a standard aerial lead; USB extension cable; two software CDs; and a Quick Start Guide covering various languages.
After attaching the nano stick to a USB port and installing the main TVCenter software, a Wizard will lead you through a set up process before scanning for available radio and television. Until some other similar products, you are stuck with one standard scanning method but it does a reasonable job. With a roof-top aerial attached, a total of 49 radio stations and 37 television channels were recognised. Repeating the scan process with the supplied mini-antenna achieved the same number of hits. Surprisingly the image quality was almost indistinguishable between the two types of aerial. However there was a certain amount of audio break up with the indoor antenna which interfered with the viewing experience.
You can either cycle through the various channels and stations using on-screen buttons or right click the interface and select the appropriate program from a channel listing. Other right-click options include the ability to zoon in/out of the picture and choose from a range of recording profiles that include file-DVD, DVD-DVD, SVCD plus DivX Home and DivX Portable. Support is provided for MPEG 1/2, DivX, MPEG 2 and HDTV recording.
Controls are available to switch between television, radio, recordings and an EPG (Electronic Programming Guide) facility. Included, as part of the standard package, is an eight week trial of a premium EPG service. Options are available to capture video content, grab a still image stored in a user-specified location or opt for time-shifting.
Adjustments can be made to both audio and display settings. You can enable SPDIF for your audio output device plus choose from any available input and output devices for audio. With the display you can enable OSD with high resolution; adjust transparency; choose from available out put devices plus select the aspect ratio of the viewing area.
As an additional bonus, Pinnacle has included a copy of VideoSpin version 1.1.1. This Pinnacle software provides the means to edit any captured video content. It can be sued to add still images, audio, titles and transitions to any captured video.
Minimum system requirements for the Pinnacle PCTV nano kit is a Pentium 4 with 2GHz processor, 256MB RAM (512MB for Vista), 5GB hard disk space and support for DirectX 9 running the latest versions of Windows XP and Vista. This product has been priced at £39.99.
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