Time-Shifting, Scheduled Recording, Screen Capturing…Oh My!
Serving as a simple TV tuner is enough for a lot of users, but the COMPRO VideoMate Vista U890 TV Stick allows for a few extra functions as well. Assuming that you have enough hard drive space to spare, you can take advantage of both the PVR and time-shifting functions. Pause and rewind live television and set up scheduled recordings for the PVR side of things.
Most of these functions can be accessed from the aforementioned on-screen widget, as well as through the series of keyboard shortcuts. Hitting the space bar, for example, performs an instant screen capture of what you happen to be watching at that time. The picture file is automatically saved in your chosen folder.
One of the cooler features has to be the channel surf. This flips through the TV channels for you, changing channels about every second. What’s more, the screen is populated with a grid of these channels, so you can see what’s going on with several channels at the same time.
It would have been pretty crazy if all of those channels provided live feeds, but they stop as screen captures as the software flips its way through what’s available. If your computer is on the slower side of things, you may experience a bit of lag as well.
In addition to watching TV, the COMPRO U890F also lets you listen to FM radio stations in your area. There is a provided FM antenna, just like you’d find with a home stereo system, but you may even be able to achieve some limited reception without it. The radio interface is similar to that of the TV tuner.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Admittedly, the USB TV tuner market is not exactly the sexiest or most exciting aspect of your computer, but handy devices like the VideoMate Vista U890F TV Stick from COMPRO are certainly useful. Installation and setup was a breeze and it’s great that this compnay included everything (aside from a Cable TV subscription) that you’ll need to enjoy The Office, CSI, and Oprah from the comfort of your notebook.
At around $70, the U890F is priced competitively and comes with a series of features that you may not find with other USB TV Sticks. It’s got time-shifting, for example, as well as full PVR functionality (including scheduled recordings). The FM radio is a definite bonus too.
If you’re in the market for a USB TV tuner and you want something that’s both easy to use and relatively robust, this COMPRO USB TV Stick could be your ticket.
- Great-looking user interface
- Time-shifting and scheduled recording features
- FM radio reception is a bonus
- Channel surfing feature is pretty neat
- Cable/unit gets pretty warm
- No support for any true HD content
- Remote control feels flimsy
- Does not include antenna for over-the-air ATSC content
Overall Rating: 8.0 / 10.0
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