Best USB TV tuner for the PC currently on the market - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 03-05-2011, 04:24 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm getting a new laptop & want to get a TV tuner that plugs into the USB port. The last time I bought a TV tuner was back in 2006, & it was a PCI card for the desktop. Now I'm getting a laptop. My last TV tuner was an ATI TV Wonder 650 (PCI card) & had good results with it. I'm currently leaning toward this one, the VisionTek 900255 Hybrid HD Mobile USB TV Tuner - USB 2.0.

Does anyone own this USB TV Tuner, & can tell me if they recommend it or not? What other USB TV Tuners might be a good, or better choice than this one? If I get the VisionTek model, the only way I'll use the antenna provided is when I'm out & about, but use the regular outdoor antenna at home (won't get a signal in the house with the provided antenna). At a later date, I'll be asking about a PCI or PCI-e TV tuner card, once I can afford to replace my primary PC that shorted out in November (using my brother's pc, which I hate for lots of reasons).

Note: I'm not worried that I won't get HD onthis unit since my new laptop doesn't have the minimum processor speed for HD. My new laptop only has an AMD 2.3ghz processor, & the TV tuner needs at least 2.5ghz for HD.
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post #2 of 9 Old 03-05-2011, 04:34 PM
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I don't think any of them are that great, but I have had good luck with the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-950 USB2

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post #3 of 9 Old 03-06-2011, 08:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgkdragn View Post

I don't think any of them are that great, but I have had good luck with the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-950 USB2

I will second that tuner. Since you are going with a laptop, your only options are usb, which are all software encoding/tuning. Therefore, they technically should all be very similar. If you went with a PCI tuner, they would be hardware based, doing all the decoding themselves.
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post #4 of 9 Old 03-06-2011, 12:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sitlet View Post

I will second that tuner. Since you are going with a laptop, your only options are usb, which are all software encoding/tuning. Therefore, they technically should all be very similar. If you went with a PCI tuner, they would be hardware based, doing all the decoding themselves.

A Desktop will be in the works, but for now, I needed to get a computer fast, & couldn't pass up the laptop deal I got. I know laptops are limited at what can be done with them, but I will eventually need internet on the go, & the laptop serves that purpose. I prefer desktops over laptops when it comes to hardware upgrades & operating various software.
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post #5 of 9 Old 03-06-2011, 02:07 PM
 
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If you don't need HDTV on the go, you might consider a LCD monitor w/ HDTV tuner combination.

I just picked up a mint, less than one year old, Samsung 2333HD monitor for $100 on Craigslist.

23" display and supports (2) HDMI, DVI and VGA inputs, up to 1920 x 1080 and has a built in HDTV tuner.

Using it with a Win 7 laptop and XP desktop.
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post #6 of 9 Old 03-07-2011, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sitlet View Post

I will second that tuner. Since you are going with a laptop, your only options are usb, which are all software encoding/tuning. Therefore, they technically should all be very similar. If you went with a PCI tuner, they would be hardware based, doing all the decoding themselves.

That's only the case for the analogue capture side isn't it?

ATSC digital capture doesn't require encoding - as the encoding is done by the broadcaster at their end, and the tuner just demodulates the signal and delivers the MPEG2 transport stream (containing MPEG2 and AC3 video and audio in the US) to the PC - whether via USB2 or PCI / PCI-E.

The HVR-950 does both I believe - but I wasn't clear if the OP was after analogue or digital capture. As analogue OTA has ceased in the US - I'd imagine it was for OTA digital (unless domestic analogue or possibly analogue cable sources were in the frame?)
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post #7 of 9 Old 03-08-2011, 02:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

That's only the case for the analogue capture side isn't it?

ATSC digital capture doesn't require encoding - as the encoding is done by the broadcaster at their end, and the tuner just demodulates the signal and delivers the MPEG2 transport stream (containing MPEG2 and AC3 video and audio in the US) to the PC - whether via USB2 or PCI / PCI-E.

The HVR-950 does both I believe - but I wasn't clear if the OP was after analogue or digital capture. As analogue OTA has ceased in the US - I'd imagine it was for OTA digital (unless domestic analogue or possibly analogue cable sources were in the frame?)

NTSC is slowly becoming non-existent in my area. Any TV tuner stick must have an ATSC tuner in it, & that's what I want. I don't have cable, & that portion wouldn't be used anyway. It's strictly OTA. Someone mentioned I should just buy an HDTV with ATSC tuner built in. I have looked into that as well, but money is an issue not only for that, but for another desktop. If I'm lucky enough to get some overtime with my current job, then an off-lease desktop from tigerdirect.com will be an option. For the time being, I'd have to reuse my Compaq LCD monitor until I can afford another one (a widescreen model).

As for the tuner stick, I went ahead and ordered the one I spotted on tigerdirect.com (the VisionTek 900255 Hybrid HD Mobile USB TV Tuner - USB 2.0), & got $30 off the price after finding a coupon code on couponcabin.com for it. So instead of paying $80, I got it for around $50. Wish me luck on this one. I'm still waiting for the laptop itself.
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post #8 of 9 Old 03-08-2011, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

That's only the case for the analogue capture side isn't it?

ATSC digital capture doesn't require encoding - as the encoding is done by the broadcaster at their end, and the tuner just demodulates the signal and delivers the MPEG2 transport stream (containing MPEG2 and AC3 video and audio in the US) to the PC - whether via USB2 or PCI / PCI-E.

The HVR-950 does both I believe - but I wasn't clear if the OP was after analogue or digital capture. As analogue OTA has ceased in the US - I'd imagine it was for OTA digital (unless domestic analogue or possibly analogue cable sources were in the frame?)

Correct. Watching OTA or QAM with that tuner, there will be very low cpu usage, as its just a digital transfer from the broadcaster to your tuner. Only analog NTSC will require decoding by your cpu.
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post #9 of 9 Old 03-12-2011, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
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I received my laptop (Acer A5551-4200) & tried out the Visiontek TV tuner stick on this laptop. The TV tuner stick works well for this laptop, but the included antenna only works if you're close to the towers, & then you only get UHF (expected this). I hooked it up to the regular outdoor antenna, & it picked up the 2 full power VHF stations (WLS-TV & WBBM-TV, though WLS-TV on RF 7 is listed as LD now), plus all the full power UHF. I was sad that despite having a pre-amp on my antenna, I did not get WWME-LD, WOCK-CD (don't reallly care for this station), WESV-LD (another don't care), or W25DW-D. I did get WDCI-LD & WHNW-LD (this station recently flash-cut to digital).

So this TV tuner stick will work for most stations, but unless near low power stations or the low power stations send most of their power your way, then even the best outdoor antenna won't get certain stations. I also will say that while the tuner uses PSIP, the stations are listed in RF order. The included remote does not allow you to add channels manually. That's a downfall to this product.

This is my TV Fool chart & shows what I should get, but here's what I really get with this product: (Note, this is in RF order, & only listing main channel to conserve space)

WLS-TV (RF 7) - ABC

WBBM-TV (RF 12) - CBS

WYIN (RF 17) - PBS

WHNW-LD (RF 18) - World Harvest TV

WGN-TV (RF 19) - CW

WYCC (RF 21) - PBS

WCIU (RF 27) - Ind

WMAQ-TV (RF 29) - NBC

WDCI-LD (RF 30) - Daystar

WFLD (RF 31) - Fox

WGBO-DT (RF 38) - Univision

WCPX (RF 43) - Ion TV

WLS-TV (RF 44) - ABC

WSNS (RF 45) - Telemundo

WTTW (RF 47) - PBS

WXFT (RF 50) - Telefutura

WPWR-TV (RF 51) - MNT

Now I have to see if this product works with TS Reader.

As for the laptop itself, it's something to hold me over until I can afford to get a desktop, then I'll get a hardware based TV tuner card. Then I have to decide on PCI or PCI-E. I would have perferred a Toshiba or Samsung laptop.
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