November 22, 2005
New ATSC USB Tuner Includes LG 5G Chip
In response to my article last week on the "sexy" Mobix USB 2.0 tuner for DVB-T terrestrial DTV reception on notebook computers, Sean Wallace sent me information and some circuit board photos of the new FusionHDTV5 USB Gold portable ATSC receiver by Dvico. It looks as if the VBox A-3560 USB 2.0 receiver that I've been hauling around the country is now outdated!
This is the third ATSC USB receiver I've seen. The first was the SASEM, which is now difficult to obtain. The second was the VBox, which was on display at NAB2005 and is readily available from on-line retailers such as Copperbox.com and VisibleLight.com. The new FusionHDTV5 USB Gold receiver is also available Copperbox.com.
The FusionHDTV5 USB is not as small and attractive as the Mobix receiver, but what's inside makes it interesting. The tuner includes the new LG/Zenith 5th generation VSB decoder chip. This is the one that convinced VSB skeptics that 8-VSB might work after all. Like the VBox, the receiver is powered from the USB bus, but unlike the Vbox, it can also receive and record standard NTSC analog TV. A remote control is also available. Advanced recording features include HD to DVD, HD to DViX and direct MPEG2 recording of the ATSC stream. Not clear is whether these format conversions are supported in hardware or if they are software based.
Copperbox.com has more detailed specifications than the FusionHDTV USB Gold product page. Copperbox lists the tuner as the LG H062F, the demodulator as the LG DT3303, the MPEG decoder as the Conexant CX25843 and the main chipset as a CY68013A.
Wallace reported the box is great at pulling in signals. From his location south of Washington D.C., he was able to pull in Baltimore DTV stations using a Silver Sensor antenna indoors. Unfortunately, he experienced problems with the receiver and its software crashing his computer on certain channels. I've experienced this too with the VBox receiver, but it appears to be a software problem, as newer versions of TSReader and the AtmosWeb software seem to handle the streams better. Wallace wondered how stations would respond to these problems. "Can you just imagine the angry people calling in to the station and sputtering about how 'your TV channel crashes my computer!!'"
In addition to the report from Wallace, Bob Behar reported that he was able to receive most of the local Miami DTV stations in his office using the FusionHDTV5 USB tuner and the small telescoping whip antenna that comes with it. Miami has a mixture of UHF and high-VHF DTV channels.