The first Freeview HD tuner does exactly what it needs to, but it won’t please media centre enthusiasts.
We reviewed our first Freeview HD box, the Humax HD Fox T2 back in March 2010. At that time, we were expecting PC tuners supporting the standard to follow on quickly. Weeks stretched to months, TV manufacturers launched HD compatible sets, but there was still no sign of PC tuners. Finally, eight months later, we get our hands on the world’s first Freeview HD tuner: the PCTV NanoStick T2.
One reason for that delay is simple, the world as a whole isn’t too bothered by the DVB-T2 standard used for Freeview HD. It’s broadcast in certain parts of the UK, and Finland, but most countries are sticking with DVB-T for now, or are only performing trials. This makes the potential market for such a tuner rather small.
The T2 is a USB stick with a single DVB-T2 tuner. You might be familiar with the PCTV brand, it used to be owned by Pinnacle, but that company was bought out by Hauppauge earlier this year. Hauppauge is using both brands now, with PCTV products being the more feature-rich and consumer-friendly offerings. Hauppauge-branded DVB-T2 product, including internal tuners, should be upcoming, but with no release dates scheduled we wouldn’t hold your breath.
The consumer friendly aspect is immediately apparent in the stylish design of the stick itself. The gloss black finish should complement most modern laptops, plus it has a sliding mechanism to keep the connector out of harm’s way when not in use. Also in the box is a USB extension cable, the usual pointless mini antenna, a tiny remote control, and the install disc.
Plug in the adaptor and load up the disc, and you’re instantly given a range of options. TVCenter is PCTV’s main viewing and scheduling software. Alternatively, you can just install the drivers to make the T2 work with Windows Media Center. There’s also DistanTV, which lets you stream TV from the tuner over a local network (or the internet) to another PC or device.
|Tuner type||Freeview HD|
|Video recording format||MPEG2, H.264|