New Pinnacle ATSC USB Tuner Stick Out; Hauppauge Adds Signal Monitor

The Pinnacle PCTV HD Ultimate Stick I reported on previously is now in stores. Pinnacle Systems has product details on its Web site. The USB ATSC tuner stick differs from earlier Pinnacle USB tuners sticks in its ability to receiver ClearQAM digital cable signals (although this feature apparently is not available in the current software release). The unit also has the ability to record TV programs on an integrated flash memory in multiple formats (iPod, PSP, DiVX). Pinnacle says the HD Ultimate Stick can record up to two hours of TV on the stick for playback on any PC. Suggested retail price is $129.

A check of Wednesday morning showed one purchaser’s review that was dated Oct. 14. The person bought the product for the ClearQAM capability, but it didn’t work. According to the purchaser, Pinnacle’s Tech Support said it was a software issue that would be fixed with a software update available sometime in November. Off-air reception capability of the unit was not reviewed. The product was given a rating of 4.5 out of 5. Other Pinnacle USB ATSC tuner sticks use the LG fifth-generation chip set.

In other USB tuner stick news, Hauppauge has added a signal monitor to its new WinTV software. It works well with the HVR-950, and not only displays SNR, but shows the number of received errors and lock status of the LG tuner. While not quite as convenient as the audio beeps on AutumnWave’s software, the Hauppauge software display is large enough to make it easy to align antennas. It also provides information on reception that is not available in any other consumer product of which I’m aware. The only thing that seems to be missing is a tap energy display!