Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Vancouver - OTA, Pioneer KURO Elite Signature PRO-141FD, 27" iMac, WDTV Live.
Customer Review of "Autumn Wave On-Air HDTV GT USB Tuner"
I pulled the trigger on the Autumn Wave On-Air HDTV GT that I linked to in Post #3. This is a mini-review of the product:
Okay, here's a longer version of my review:
But in all seriousness this product is truly great, and it delivers completely what it promises to.
I ordered the unit from Copperbox as the manufacturer's site does not ship to Canada (boo!) although in the coming months I'm sure you will be able to find it cheaper as On-Air will be distributing to many stores soon such as Walmart and RadioShack in the States. Hopefully they'll easily find their way up here.
The product description describes the unit as having LGs latest 5th Gen 8VSB chipset. The unit comes in a small retail box with the actual unit being about the size of small desktop calculator. It also comes with a USB cable, a small whipsnap antenna, an adaptor for you to plug in various S-Video AV peripherals into the unit if you so wish, a remote control, and a faux leather carrying case for protection as you bring it along with your laptop computer.
I live in downtown Toronto, on the 8th floor of a condo that has a south view with no balcony. The CN Tower is approximately 60 degrees east of my view out the window, and First Canadian Place is about 85 degrees east.
My laptop computer is a Dell XPS M1210 with an nVidia GeForce 7400 256MB videocard, Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz processor, and 2GB of 667MHz Dual Channel SDRAM.
I installed the latest drivers from the AutumnWave website then plugged in the unit to be recognized by the computer. I then installed the software. As soon as that was done I clicked on the application and the television viewing window came up. The whole process took less than 5 minutes.
The first thing you have to do is scan for channels, naturally. I set up the unit right by the window so it could receive as many channels as possible and scanned for DTV Air only (although you have the option to scan for ATV Air also). It took about 3 minutes to lock-on to the following channels:
CKXT-HD (SunTV) (20-25dB)
and surprisingly I was able to get WNLO-HD and WNLO-SD (<20dB)
All looked crystal clear on my laptop computer.
I was also able to get WIVB-HD and a Radar channel as well but only with 15-18dB and the results were choppy.
I then repositioned the unit to point southwards more but could not receive any new channels, and in fact I dropped CITY-HD, both WNLO-HD and SD, and WIVB-HD and the Radar when I did this.
For fun, I then connected the unit to my Rogers cable outlet (with which I subscribe to DTV and HD) and did a scan of DTV Cable and ATV Cable channels. This took considerable longer due to the sheer number of Digital QAM channels and Analog channels available.
As predicted I was able to clearly receive all the Analog cable channels from 2 to 71, and nearly 30 unscrambled Digital QAM channels that I normally receive from my SA 8300HD PVR STB. The unit was also able to pick-up a large number of SCRAMBLED Digital QAM channels.
I then connected my laptop computer to my Panasonic Plasma monitor (model TH-50PH9UK) via VGA. I tuned to CFTO-HD via OTA during the Skate Canada tournament (for my wife, I swear) and I was awed by the picture. I did a Picture-By-Picture comparison of the the images I was receiving from the little unit connected to my laptop via VGA, to the same HD channel's images from Rogers and the SA STB connected by HDMI. I tweaked the settings of both inputs so that they would be as close to identical as I could get them with my eye. I have to say that apart from the OTA channel coming in about 2 seconds quicker (or should I say the Cable channel was coming in 2 seconds slower) there was no noticeable difference in the picture or sound quality of the 2 sources. I pretty much spent the whole weekend doing this Picture-by-Picture comparison for the channels I was able to receive OTA and found the picture quality to be consistently as good as what I was receiving via Rogers Cable.
This morning I took the unit to work at Yonge & Eglinton. I have a corner office on the 10th floor with a direct South view with no obstructions. I did a scan of DTV Air again and I was able to get the same channels I was able to get from home, but I also pulled in WUTV-HD and SD, WNED-HD and SD and WNED-Th (?), and Omni 2-HD, all clearly with >20dB.
I must point out that this OTA reception was all done with the small whipsnap antenna that came with the unit. Completely extended out it measures about 15cm. I am going to purchase a Zenith Silver Sensor or clone type antenna to see if I can improve these already fantastic results.
The unit is able to act as a PVR but I did not test this function other than to record OTA HD material in .ts format for short periods of time to see if there was a loss in picture quality in playback on Media Player Classic, but there was none. AWESOME!!!
I also connected the unit to my Dell Latitude D820 laptop which has a less robust video card than my XPS M1210 but saw the same crystal clear picture.
I highly recommend this product to anyone curious about OTA and HD picture quality and sound. I paid $169 US plus shipping (and taxes and duty, blah blah blah) which is about the same price as Samsung's new OTA STB tuner that is about to come to market soon.
Does what it promises, with excellent results.
Portable. Can be taken anywhere with your laptop, or you can use it as a permanent OTA tuner for your HTPC.
Has PVR functionality (although not tested).
Relatively expensive and currently you can get it only shipped from the US.
This little unit is fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone who is curious about OTA Digital Television. The fact that it is portable means that if you're on the road all the time and want to watch TV, you can take it with you if you have a laptop computer.
Also, if you connect this to your computer and then to a HD monitor or HDTV that doesn't already have an ATSC tuner, you will be amazed at the picture quality. It is comparable to what you will receive from your HD digital cable or satellite provider.
This review is dedicated to hugh, stampeder (who, thanks to his OTA knowledge base, made me curious about it....OTA that is), and 57, all of whom whose contributions to this forum are greatly appreciated by me, and I'm sure by everyone else who receives and contributes knowledge to this forum.
Please feel free to ask any questions regarding this review.
Last edited by stampeder; 2006-11-06 at 11:30 PM.
Reason: Added a title to this post.