USB HDTV on PC – blog from 2009 – repeated owing to demand

By: nunitak

Nov 22 2009


Category: Computers


OTA (over the air) HDTV is affordable by all in addition to being BEST

Nunitak Comment: The information here enables the finest TV picture quality — on your PC — that I have ever seen. Flat screen TVs selling for $ thousands do not beat it. Nunitak has seen spiffy TV around the world. But I do not know of ANYTHING which beats the picture quality of this arrangement. On top of all that, it is without a doubt the least costly of all TV alternatives. Only $41 for me, not counting HP a1747c computer and the $30 antenna which I bought later. You can get a computer like mine or better for $300 to $400 if you shop around.

This method gives you a computer, cd player, video recorder, dvd player, internet video and radio station player and whatever else a computer can do for much less than the asking price of a flat screen TV of similar size to my monitor, let alone the bigger ones which cost in the thousands. My computer monitor is an HPw19e. I have a telephone that works over my pc too.

No Converter Box needed either*

Having this kind of TV that works with your computer does not require paying a cable fee nor does it require an internet connection, nor is there any subscription fee. It works over the air (OTA) just like your previous NTSC TV did, except that it displays ATSC (digital TV) signals. Your ANTENNA must capture those signals first, and that is why the antenna is important, just as for costlier digital TV sets.

*Canadians who do not own a computer may wish to have a Converter Box for their NTSC Analog TV, but Nunitak confirms that the picture quality for that arrangement is definitely inferior although it is much better than not being able to receive any ATSC TV signals from the USA.

It is amusing to visit homes of the wealthy who have spent huge sums yet have TV that is very inferior to Nunitak’s $41 alternative.

When you click on Tuners with varied functions in this blog you will come to a page which shows USB ATSC or HDTV tuners, but also shows some OLD OBSOLETE NTSC types. Please check out the SPECIFICATIONS. You want a tuner that receives THE LATEST digital signals, NOT merely NTSC. However, some tuners can accomodate cable signals or NTSC in addition to ATSC signals. So you can get CABLE or CANADIAN TV on your computer if you get one of those.

As for me, I do NOT want cable, nor their exorbitant bill. My arrangement involves a tuner that picks up solely the modern ATSC signals. However, the ANTENNA which I use has a splitter which enables me to watch Canadian TV on my old NTSC TV. I get more variety with that than cable ever offered: all internet streaming, podcasts, videocasts plus all OTA TV both Canadian and U.S. This is an endless choice that totally dwarfs cable. Additionally it is FREE. Be sure you get the correct tuner for what you want!

The Antenna is the Critical Part, Anyone Can Do This

The bad feedback you see about some thumb-sized USB 2.0 HDTVs for PC arises from those who are inept with their PC, do not read instructions, and are very impatient and hot-tempered. I read one review where the buyer reported that he got angry and destoyed the software CD along with his optical drive. All of his frustration was due to not installing a good antenna and not doing this simple work carefully. If you do not have a good antenna on any HDTV, you will get poor reception with screen freezes and audio dropouts.

A satisfactory antenna makes all the difference in the world. This article describes how I solved this problem without even buying an HDTV antenna. I already have two satellite dishes that came with my trailer home. I bought a thumb-sized HDTV for only $41 that works with my Vista PC and HP w19e display. I do not know of anyone who has a better HDTV than I do in this cost range. I can push a button and view any HDTV program on full screen, or I can keep it small and watch while I do other computer work.

Good HDTV outdoor antenna for boonies, example

Outdoor HDTV antenna with good ratings, inexpensive

Amplified Indoor HDTV antenna — for apartment dwellers where outdoor antenna not feasible

Amplified Inexpenive Indoor HDTV antenna — apartment dwellers

Choosing an HDTV Antenna help ******* this site mainly good for distance and direction to favorite stations

If your favorite station is far away — you need a large directional antenna with pre-amplifier — many rural homes may have all TV signals coming from one big city, all in the same direction. Even though I live close to Detroit, most all my stations are nearly north. If I were 50 miles further away, I would need one of these, but it would be overkill for my current distance.

The Antenna I chose for later installation this year — not expensive as you see (this was installed around late May 2009)

Details about how my antenna works — to get both Canadian and USA TV signals (added Oct 09)

— please scroll down to NORTHERN BORDER there

The Antenna Help given here is good for any HDTV

This antenna help has been pre-selected by Nunitak to give you the highest quality viewing at the lowest possible cost.

The antenna is critical to how much enjoyment you get from your HDTV. Out of every twenty stations I may like only two. Perhaps one or two other stations I will watch some of the time. Therefore, for me there will be FOUR STATIONS which are critical. If my antenna does not pick up these stations I am left with only the junk programming from the sixteen stations that I do not want. The starred url is most valuable because it will help determine the distance and direction to your favorite stations.

But for selecting a best antenna, follow my hints . It has nothing to do with price. If you live deep inside a metal structure you will be limited to cable TV or an outside amplified antenna with a long cable. Small indoor antennas will NOT work well inside trailer homes. One of the best ways to block RF signals is to be wrapped with aluminum. TV cameramen sometimes use that trick to avoid stray signals that affect their cameras: they wrap the camera with aluminum foil. So, if you live in a trailer, you will be very frustrated with any HDTV unless you solve the problem of signal reception by using the cable from a satellite dish, getting an HDTV clip-on antenna for satellite dish, or installing an outdoor HDTV antenna (as cheap as $29 for an excellent one). Do not spend a lot of money! Look for an antenna that solves your problem and then google the antenna brand name and model number to find the seller with the lowest price. I have seen the exact same antenna selling at different prices from $29 to $79…

If you are an apartment dweller, go for an amplified indoor antenna located near a big window and connected to your HDTV by a long cable. The AMPLIFIED ones are best, especially with a long cable. This gives you also the option of moving the antenna about inside, or from window to window, for getting the best reception of a critical program. And its primary location will be the best you can do for all stations in general.

If your ANTENNA is RIGHT, you do NOT NEED a very expensive HDTV!!!

Why spend hundreds of dollars when you can get an HDTV and/or FM Radio tuner for your PC for $40 to $110, including shipping? Then you can sell your standalone HDTV to someone primitive for needed money or use it in a different room from your pc.

CANADA NOTE: As our northern neighbors are considerably behind in instituting HDTV (none yet in Windsor, ON), it would be wise for Canadians to select one of the HDTV-over-USB devices that picks up Analog TV as well as HDTV. Your PC will be ready to use now – for Canadian TV – and will tune up the latest ATSC USA signals too. See tuners with varied functions, also below, and at AverMedia (explore site carefully, has helpful videos).

How I solved this problem

I get PERFECT HDTV reception on my pc, 20 channels currently. I live in a trailer home. Indoor antennas of any type will not work.

PLEASE NOTE: You do NOT need any internet connection for watching OTA (over the airways) TV on a personal computer. However, you will be missing a lot of the other benefits of your pc if you do not get at least dial-up internet access eventually.

I bought a small, memory stick size USB HDTV made by AverMedia for only $41 from CompUSA. For about $20 more you can get one that will tune up FM radio stations too. Sometimes HDTV/FM tuner stuff comes on a card, usually more expensive, which you insert on your pc motherboard. No card is involved for the USB-type device which I bought.

This memory stick size HDTV device is fantastic! Closed-captioning. 16-channel preview. Scheduled video recording to pc, so you never miss your favorite program. Numerous other features, an excellent Operation Guide in pdf, comes with its own CD for software installation. It will work extremely well with XP or Vista, I do not know about earlier operating systems.

In March I did not have a real outdoor HDTV antenna, not in my budget yet. Merely connected the AVerMedia TVHD Volar to an existing coaxial cable from a small sat dish, the flat kind, like a disk on a pole. In my case no indoor antennas of any type will work, even my windows have aluminum screens all around, and the trailer body is aluminum too. The best I can do with an indoor antenna is zero to one stations. But when I screwed that sat dish coaxial cable into my USB 2.0 AverTVHD Volar device, voila! 14 stations scanned into it, all with perfect reception except for one. After June of this year, as more stations complete the HDTV switchover, I will have even more choices. When I installed the real outdoor HDTV antenna I got several more stations to choose from.

If I had bought an HDTV for several hundred dollars, I would still have needed an antenna.

But I saved hundreds of dollars by using my HP Pavilion PC, AND I got the ability to record and playback RF broadcast, over-the-air HDTV video (equivalent to video recorder/player) at no extra cost. I can record to DVD in my optical drive or to my hard disk. Videos on my HDD even get backed up to an external Maxtor OneTouch back up drive, so I will not lose them even if my curent hard drive croaks.

I did not get the FM radio feature because my pc already accesses internet radio — much better — along with all the video you can get with a low grade dsl connection. I do not pay my dsl provider for TV programming. It is not in my budget. Likewise, cable tv is too expensive for many nowadays in the economic crisis. And when internet is bundled with it they want even more money. I pay only for low grade dsl and my phone uses that without costing extra. If I could get internet without any phone line, that too would disappear. Some of you have heard about MagicJack, which connects a telephone to your pc, enabling you to phone people via the internet.

I have noticed that people less able in electronics and computers have some troubles installing one of these. All of that arises from haste, not reading the Operator’s Guide, and mainly not connecting to an adequate antenna. Of course, your pc must be properly maintained per previous articles here.

In Vista, the instructions ask you to disable a program called ehrecvr.exe. That can be done from Control Panel [make sure to click Classic View], Administration, Services, select Windows Media Center from the service listing, then you see a pop-up that says ehrecvr.exe, and you merely click the ‘disable’ button. HELP for XP is available in Comments (click upper left).

Total cost of my HDTV: $41 — And it is better than what many others have who spent $300 to $500.

The only further caution necessary is to disconnect the coaxial cable and turn off my PC during lightning storms. In my area these can occasionally be severe. Once I was outside and lightning hit 15 feet away (second time in my life, the first time was in Virginia). You get indoors fast when that happens…

This article written the day after I installed this HDTV on my pc. If it was not easy, how could I do all of this in two days? My new HDTV still has some features I have not explored, everything you would get on an HDTV costing several hundred dollars, but at a fraction of that price, along with even more capabilites and features.

USB 2.0 HDTV Tuners with varied functions, examples (some work on less spiffy pc) but you need to check your system information and then check HDTV Tuner requirements carefully. They all seem to be getting good feedback reports, at least from the non-goofballs.

Money Saving Caveat: When you find an item you want, copy the exact name and model number (antenna, HDD, USB HDTV, whatever) . Then Google that and buy it from the place that offers the lowest price for brand new. I would caution against buying used pc items except for “factory refurbished” by a reputable OEM such as Samsung, Toshiba or a PC maker that backs up the product with warranty.

A little bit of careful work is far better than hurried ignorance. In case I have not made it clear, the resulting HDTV display on your pc is fully equal to the BEST ones on expensive HDTVs at Best Buy, and far better than the display of ATSC TVs there costing $500 and under.

Cautionary Note About Installing Outdoor Antennas

No matter whether it’s a Satcom Antenna, an HDTV antenna, or some other type, one must exercise CARE and ATTENTION to weather and water proofing the connection points. The first time it rains get out there with a ladder and carefully observe how the rain is draining around the antenna. Focus carefully on places where you used screws, lag bolts, or other bolts that involved HOLES through the wall or roof. You MUST carefully waterproof those so that rainwater does not leak into your walls or ceilings. Water coming through like that does big damage which may not show up until two years later, necessitating expensive repairs.

Whoever installed the Satcom dishes on my trailer home ignored this attention to quality completely. I barely caught the leaks around one satellite antenna on time, the other one did much damage, some still on my repairs list. Probably an overweight person working installations for one of the satcom providers. He busted the trailer roof by walking about on it too, making dents and hairline cracks in the aluminum roof along the rib supports!

If you have an installer visit your trailer or mobile home for installing an antenna: Do NOT allow them to walk on the roof!!! Ask them if they have made plans for weatherproofing their installation. If they do not have caulking and so on with them, tell them to go away and do not come back until they are prepared to do the job properly. Same for homes.

Final Note: Your HDTV uses the new ATSC standard. It will work in North America (and Taiwan, but not China proper). Nor does ATSC work in Europe, which uses DVB (the sucessor to PAL and SECAM), nor in Japan, which uses a different digital broadcast standard. Check this all out here. The old American broadcast standard for analog TV is called NTSC. For an old NTSC TV you need cable or an ATSC digital to analog Converter Box. China is rolling out later, after carefully considering other standards, thus they may have the better overall standard.

The USB DTV device or HDTV card you buy for your pc must be the correct version for your nation. That is usually the correct one sold by retailers. If you are moving to another nation, consult AverMedia online for the correct USB device. The ATSC version is the correct one for the USA.

Again, the next 1000 years will be filled with constant change, so you need to have stable, enduring roots in the unchanging. For that, see Nunitak’s other blog.

Your computer will have more flexibility to accommodate changes than standalone radios and televisions. My pc currently replaces all of the following: vcr, dvd player, books, tv, cassette recorder, radio, cd player. Phone services may soon migrate wholly to pc. Star Trek type wide screen communication is now possible using Acrobat Meeting. Those who do not have a pc are swiftly entering the primitive category. Chinese proverb: Learning is like paddling a canoe upstream — he who does not advance, recedes. Think about that…

Times are a-changing!

What kind of PC is needed for AVerMedia USB TV device and AVerTV 6.0 software? The following info is from the box — except for my AMD equivalent:

Intel Pentium 4 — 2.6 GHz — I have AMD Athlon 64 — 2.4 GHz dual core 4600+

516 MB RAM, DirectX 9.0C VGA Card, Sound Card ( 1 GB RAM would be better — Nunitak comment for those buying a pc)

Anything equal or better should do fine. You can now get a PC better than mine for $400 or less if you shop carefully. I have HP Pavilion a1747c. A desktop is usually less expensive than an equivalent laptop.

These AMD Processors or any better will do — click back button for AMD Processors Complete List

If you contemplate getting a different USB tuner than Nunitak’s you will need to consult the feedback comments from previous piurchasers of that product. I have told you that the one I got works perfectly. This calls for judgment. Those who lack the expertise for judgment can make a safe choice by sticking to an exact copy of what is known to work perfectly, or to the closest matching alternative that is available. Nunitak does not only that, but adds a further check as to the lowest price. If you still do not understand, I am sorry. This is the most help I can offer without being there personally to do it for you. Get someone a bit more techy to help you with this blog entry.

I wish there was some way to show you over the internet the picture quality I am talking about. However, most internet stuff involves compromises to save bits while streaming. The TV over PC which I get has a picture SO FINE, it will BLOW YOUR SOCKS OFF TOTALLY. I have NEVER seen ANYTHING even close, while touring stores where EXPENSIVE HDTVs are for sale. The ones that cost thousands of dollars are not better.

The AverMedia USB device which I got is a predecessor of the AverTV Hybrid Volar Max (H826), Item 6, Page 2, at their website.. Mine was an earlier version which did not incorporate the ability to receive FM stations. AverMedia are changing things around. I would caution you to consider that their little portable antennas are not likely to pick up signals as strongly as a regular home ATSC antenna like the one I got. What you get should be able to accomodate the coaxial cable from a good antenna. The H826 USB TV Tuner referenced does that, meeting my approval.

They have removed their previous good videos and replaced them with ones offering more hype and communicating less understanding. Bells and whistles up the price, but one uses only the basics as a general rule.

If you use your AverMedia USB Tuner (whichever one you get) with a laptop, then you will lose your TV too when your laptop is stolen, plus that ritzy-doo new little antenna. My little antenna is never used, but might work well half way up CN Tower.

These things are selling like hotcakes. IMO, they should be making the one I got and selling zillions more while devoting less effort to jiving up profits with stuff most people will seldom use and easily lose.

One desktop pc is stolen for every 39 laptops stolen

— every hour 68 laptops are stolen

Laptop Security





6 comments on “USB HDTV on PC – blog from 2009 – repeated owing to demand”

  1. That was some interesting stuff there. Thanks for posting it.

  2. Very nice Blog, I will tell my friends about it.


  3. Correction about AverMedia USB Stick TV and Windows XP: You must disable Media Center Extended Services by highlighting it in in the Local Services listing and right clicking to get to Disable selection. So, forgive me, it IS needed to do something directly similar to Vista instructions given in the above blog.

    You do this from Start, Control Panel, Administration, OR you also see Local SERVICES icon to click on there in the Control Panel, Administration, place. It is really simple, but if someone with Administrator rank on the PC Users group does not do it, then it may revert.

  4. I have a Toshiba Satellite M65 S9092 with XP SP3 and the USB HDTV works just fine, display even more striking than on Vista Pavilion TVPC with HP Monitor.

    But this is a spiffy laptop from circa 2007–2008 with an Intel x86 Family processor with 1997 Mhz speed (that is per second, I assume…)

    The Japan made display is best I have ever seen (on anything…).

  5. It’s fantastic that you are getting thoughts from this article as well as from our argument made here.

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