Friday, January 12, 2007
On the software side of things, the PCTV HD Pro Stick is supposed to turn your personal computer into a personal video recorder able to record in formats compatible with the video iPod, Sony's PSP, and that can be burned onto a DVD for playback on a standard DVD player. This includes an on screen program guide to allow you to schedule what you want to record. The software also gives you information about the type of signal the PCTV HD Pro Stick is receiving and it's strength.
The PCTV HD Pro Stick is designed primarily with business travelers and students in mind who are more tech savvy and mobile than the normal population. While it will work with a full sized computer, the unit's small size and general portability are obviously designed for use with a laptop.
While the claims made about this products capabilities by its manufacturer are impressive, the PCTV HD Pro Stick doesn't really seem to live up to the hype. Although it will display analog, digital, and high definition programming with equal quality, the reception through the included antenna is spotty at best. There also seem to be numerous software glitches ranging from a tendency to freeze up the computer when recording in the iPod format to an inability to download on screen program guide information in some areas (like New York City reportedly). The problems with the computer freezing up may be attributed to the fact that the PCTV HD Pro Stick needs a pretty powerful computer to perform correctly, but the absence of an on screen program guide and spotty reception in a place like New York city are inexcusable.
Conceivably some of the problems could be alleviated by getting programming from a different source. For example, there's no conceivable reason why the PCTV HD Pro Stick couldn't be connected via coaxial cable to a larger antenna for over the air signals or a cable box or a satellite receiver, but any of those solutions would defeat the whole point of this product: portability.
While the effort to combine all of these functions into a compact piece of electronics and user friendly software is commendable, Pinnacle needs to take the PCTV HD Pro Stick back to the drawing board to work out the kinks before it can meet it's full potential in the marketplace.