The boundary between computers and home theatres continues to blur. Now, TVs are coming with all the appropriate connectors for computers, and computer components are being shipped with home theatre systems in mind.
Until fairly recently, desktops remained the only feasible option for capturing TV on a computing system, but this is no longer the case. There are quite a few analog and digital TV solutions for travelling users, and one such device is the Compro Videomate U3, offering high-definition digital TV for those who just can't miss their favourite programmes when they're on the road!
The VideoMate U3 is pretty much the smallest digital TV tuner available at the moment, at just 9cm long by 2.6cm wide x 1.1cm deep and weighing in at a mere 40g.
The audio/video system is the Digital Video Broadcasting - Terrestrial (DVB-T) standard, utilising MPEG-2 A/V streams and capable of displaying both standard definition and high-definition TV up to 1080i resolution. It also picks up EPG and Teletext.
The U3 is a USB2.0 device, and in fact it won't work properly on USB1.1, so don't even try! To watch digital TV, it needs a minimum of 866MHz CPU, 128MB RAM and either Windows XP SP1 or Windows 2000 SP4. For HDTV the requirements are the same, but it requires a 2.4GHz CPU. Recording TV to the local disk requires around 3GB of hard drive space per hour of footage recorded.
The U3 bundle includes the U3 device itself (obviously!), a short USB extension cable, an adaptor to plug a video cable into the U3 cable input, a digital terrestrial TV antenna, Start Up Guide, and a CD containing the U3 drivers, ComproDTV 2, ComproDVD 2, Ulead PhotoExplorer 8.5 SE and documentation.