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Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 950q Hybrid TV Stick
So who likes to watch free HD TV broadcasted over the air?
By Joshua Virata

So who likes to watch free HD TV broadcasted over the air? I'd like to say that people will probably take anything that's free right? A lot of people don't know that there is free HD TV broadcasted in their area but sometimes it's just that they don't have the capability to tune into it. Although by this time I'm thinking that a lot of people are paying subscription fees for their Cable, Satellite, or even for the IPTV networked TV stations that AT&T and others are providing. But those are all for Televisions; what about on your computer or laptop? The WinTV-HVR 950q by Hauppauge is a fairly cheap solution for bringing TV into your personal computer.

The WinTV-HVR 950q is a USB-based TV tuner adapter for either towers or laptops. It allows the user to bring over-the-air High Definition ATSC digital stations, or even your analog cable signals into your computer for viewing and recording. For the purpose of this review I'm going to be calling the WinTV-HVR 950q the HVR for short.

In my testing of the HVR I used it on a MacBook Pro using Bootcamp to run Windows Vista Ultimate. I used the enclosed software and drivers for the device during my testing on the Mac. Except the occasional hiccup here and there, the software ran pretty smoothly while watching both ATSC HDTV signals and NTSC analog signals. I actually ended up being diverted from watching the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics on my Mac because the TVs were overrun with other television programs. But I'm happy I was because then I got to watch the ceremonies in HD because my household has yet to find a good provider for digital/HD content.


The WinTV-HVR 950q is a USB-based TV tuner adapter for either towers or laptops. It allows the user to bring over-the-air High Definition ATSC digital stations, or even your analog cable signals into your computer for viewing and recording.

The user interface is fairly simple to use but can be a little confusing due to the light colors used in the background of the on screen remote and the buttons on that remote. Changing the channel is easy with either the remote or use of the keyboard using the station numbers. Stations take some memorizing though because the digital channels have prefixes to them unlike analog stations, or cable, or satellite. For example NBC is channel 04 on regular broadcast Cable, while digital/HD NBC is KNBC-HD is 1504. What would be a good option in the interface would be that when a station is selected the software would automatically switch between the ATSC HD broadcast and the NTSC analog broadcast, which ever would be stronger/clearer. That way there wouldn't be so many stations extensions to remember.

The only hiccups I ran into were when I changed channels and used another program while watching HD programming. Although in my experience with TV tuners that is expected, even on the fastest computers with the clearest signals available. Another problem I ran into was using the remote; every time I went to use the remote to change the channel I found that I had to be really close and in a direct line of sight with the HVR. After further examination of the HVR I found that what I believe is the IR receiver is found on one side of the HVR and in a recessed hole. The placement and location of the IR receiver probably attributes to the poor range of the remote. This is a design difference from other TV tuner USB sticks that I've seen and tested in the past.

Included in the box is the IR remote, antenna, USB extension cable, Multi-input cable with mini connector, the CD with drivers and programs, and some setup documentation. Neighboring USB ports will be inaccessible with the HVR in use due to its dimensions around the USB connector, therefore the inclusion of an extension USB cable is a good thing. This way users can clear up those otherwise wasted USB ports. Also with my testing on a MacBook Pro when I used the HVR on the right side it blocked the FireWire and USB ports so I couldn't use my external FireLite drive to record to and when plugged into the left side it blocks the MacSafe power port. So I'm out on both sides without the use of the USB extension.

At $ 99.99 MSRP the WinTV-HVR 950q is a fairly priced solution for bringing TV into your computer. Another plus to this version of the device is that it also comes in a Mac version with almost all the same specs.


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Joshua Virata is a 2008 graduate of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA. He has been using computers since the age of 2 and is proficient in the areas of home wired and wireless networking, music creation, secure computing, cell phone communication and GPS navigation. You can email him at jvirata@mac.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 





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