When you are stuffed into cramped quarters, there's a good chance that your computer also has to pull double duty as your television. Naturally, not all computers come with a built-in TV tuner, so you may have to consider external options like the recently released COMPRO Vista U890F TV Stick.
Whether you are rocking a notebook or a desktop, the U890F USB TV Tuner from COMPRO appears to be a remarkably simple solution, because all you have to do is shove this thing into any available USB port. Of course, there's a little more to it than that, but that's the gist of it. How does it stand up against other similar products? Let's have a look-see.
Features and Specifications
The COMPRO VideoMate Vista U890F TV Stick is meant to be a remarkably easy-to-use TV tuner on just about any computer, but it also comes with a few extra functions that could set it apart from the rest of the TV tuner pack. Among the features and specs are the following:
- Watch TV on laptop or desktop PC with USB 2.0 interface
- Worldwide analog TV (NTSC/SECAM/PAL) and FM reception
- Bundles with Microsoft certified remote control for Windows Media Center
- Included Microsoft certified MPEG-2 encoder support TV watching/recording
- ComproDTV 4 software with Vista Gadget and DTV Add-In
- S3 (standby)/ S4 (hibernation) mode power up scheduled recording
- USB bus powered, no external power adaptor required
- Timeshift and instant replay live TV
- Customize channel order and my favorite list
- Single/Multiple still frame captures and remote snapshot
- Capture analog video from Composite or S-Video
- Certified for Windows Vista 32/64 bit
The U890F USB TV Tuner is perfectly compatible with both Windows Media Center and Windows Vista, including the ability to use the provided remote control, just as you would with a real television. This isn't exactly groundbreaking stuff, but it's still very much appreciated. Unfortunately, the Apple crowd is slighted with this product so no joy for Mac OSX users...at least officially. I guess that's why they call it the "Vista".
Looking Inside the Box
Poking around inside the box of the COMPRO U890F, you'll find just about everything that you need to transform that budget Dell laptop into a full-fledged television. Naturally, you'll need a proper TV signal if you want to watch anything. Contents are as follows...
- VideoMate Vista U890F USB TV/FM Tuner
- Vista/MCE remote control
- USB 2.0 extension cable
- FM antenna
- 3-in-1 A/V input cable
- I-type to F-type converter
- Software installation CD
- Ulead DVD MovieFactory 5 SE CD
- Start Up Guide
Unlike some similar USB TV tuners that I've seen around, the COMPRO VideoMate U890F does not come with an antenna for you to grab free over-the-air ATSC HD signals. That's not a huge deal, considering that most parts of North America are severely lacking in this area, but it would have been a nice inclusion.
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