USB TV adaptors: Hauppage WinTV-Ministick HDTV USB dongle

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hauppage_wintv_boxIf you have ever looked to purchase a TV adaptor for use with your laptop or desktop PC, you would have noticed the number of devices manufactured by Hauppage.  Hauppage have produced TV adaptor cards for many years and have recently released the Hauppage WinTV-Ministick, a USB dongle that allows users to watch both SD (standard definition) and HD (high definition) terrestrial broadcasts.

The dongle itself is around the same size as a USB memory stick and has a built in IR (infra red receiver) and two status LEDs.  In addition, the package includes a portable DVB-T antenna, a PCMCIA card sized remote control, a USB extension cable and the all important control software (WinTV v7-HD) and a quick install guide.

Setup of the device is very simple, requiring installation of the driver and the WinTV-HD software included on the install CD, alongside plugging the dongle into a spare USB port.  The WinTV-HD software provides an excellent and simple interface for control of the device.  We tried the portable DVB-T aerial initially, however, we found that it wasn't quite up to providing a suitably strong signal in our area (poor reception area) and we resorted to a roof top aerial to test it fully.  The software package includes the Hauppage SignalMonitor application that allows easy positioning of indoor aerials for the best reception.  Once the aerial is correctly positioned the software can be used to scan for available channels.

hauppage_wintvThe WinTV software included with the package is truly excellent in our opinion and allows very simple recording to broadcasts and navigation through available TV and radio channels,  The best thing about the software though has to be the ability to pause live TV (similar to SKY+).  WinTV caches the video stream to allow navigation forward and backwards through a TV programme.  The one downside of this feature is the specification required to view TV in this manner which is very resource hungry.  For standard definition at least a 1.2GHz processir or above is required, whereas for high definition a Core2Duo or 2.8GHz is required.  We tested the package in both Windows Vista and XP and had no issues, and the EPG whilst not extensive (now/next feature only) was satisfactory.

With a pedigree like Hauppage and the excellent bundled software, the WinTV-Ministick is a very good choice for anyone wanting to watch TV on their laptop or PC (if the minimum requirements are not too daunting) especially as more channels open up to HD broadcasts.

Available from:

Amazon: Hauppauge WinTV-NOVA-T USB Stick - DVB-T Digital freeview TV tuner stick