The Pinnacle PCTV HD Stick is a USB television tuner device. It features both an ATSC tuner for digital broadcasts and the soon to be obsolete NTSC analog tuner. The package contains the stick, a quick start guide, software, USB extension cable and a mini-antenna.
The device is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7. In fact, I plugged the device into a USB 2.0 jack on the Windows 7 laptop and, within ten seconds, Windows 7 had detected it and began to install a driver. Mind you, I had not yet put the included software CD in the laptop. After a few seconds, Windows reported that the device was ready to use. So, I fired up Media Center. I went through the tuner setup wizard and, save for an update error, the tuner was ready. The update error was for something called ‘PlayReady’. Sounds like it is either another layer of DRM or has to do with extenders. Not sure.
Windows 7 Media Center works great with the device. It detected both analog and digital stations. I don’t care about the analog channels but the digital channels were all there and look great. You really can tell the difference between the cable version of local digital stations and the over the air versions. Night and day.
I did install the Pinnacle TV Center software on the Windows 7 machine. Apparently, there is an incompatibility between the way it draws and Windows 7. Every time I tried to use the software, it would crash. I don’t really care, I will be using Media Center anyway. The only thing the included software did that Media Center does not do is create iPod and PSP compatible video files. Not interested.
Overall, the stick works well and that it works under Windows 7 is a major plus. It is available now and is priced at $69.95.