What Is a PlayTV Box?
To begin with, I would like to state that the purpose of this device is to let you watch TV on your CRT type monitor. If you read through the specifications on the last page (you did read them, didn't you?), then you saw a little blurb about the device requiring no operation and compatibility with the operating system on your machine. That's right, this device runs completely independent of the system OS. There have been some complaints in the past with small problems cropping up when using an internal tuner card, so these issues have been addressed by making the entire setup external.
But why would anyone really want to have something like this anyway?
There are any number of situations where something like this would be handy, but let me bring up a simple one that happens to apply to me. I happen to be married with an eight year old running rampant through the house all the time. Since we don't believe in having televisions in every room of the house, the living room generally has cartoons or some such thing playing on the television set. One can only put up with so much Scooby Doo before going nuts, so I can leave the munchkin to her devices while I go into the back room and watch some sports on the PC.
Now that we have covered What the PlayTV Box is for and Why it can be useful, lets take a peek at the components necessary to pull off this concept of an independent TV on the computer.
What You Get
Before we delve into the guts of this rig, I wanted to take a moment and mention the fact that there are some folks out there who realize that delivery services don't care about your packages. When this package arrived at my door, I opened it up and noticed right off that the box had been mishandled pretty badly. But thanks to a little planning on the part of the folks at Prolink, everything within the box was still in great shape. All major components are individually wrapped in bubble wrap to make sure that you get a working unit when it arrives to you. Sometimes it is these small things that can really make a difference.
What you end up with once everything is out of the box should have you well on the way to TV freedom. You get the main external unit, power adaptor, all necessary cables, a manual and a remote control. And remember when I talked about the small things making a difference? Well they even provide batteries for the remote. In this day and age, that is nearly unheard of!
Beginning with the main unit, the front only has a power switch and some lights that show the current mode of operation. The back, however, has a plethora of connections that should handle all functions nicely. It has a standard coaxial cable connection to allow an external antenna to be attached to the unit. In my case, I hooked it up to cable TV. You also have input connections for either Composite Video or S-Video, and also stereo input jacks for both. Also present is a stereo output jack and 15-pin connectors for input and output of video. This allows you to use this external box as a pass-through from the PC to the monitor.
With all of the jacks available on the back of the unit, it is a good idea to have the cabling necessary to hook all of this stuff up. Fortunately, all cables are included with the package. You have an S-Video cable, a Composite Video cable, sound cables, the power adaptor and a cable to hook up between the PC and the unit. Since the monitor will also hook up to the box, this should fill all the holes available except for the speaker out. Sorry, but you'll be on your own for this one.
What would watching TV be like without a remote control unit? Good thing that Prolink decided to add one with this kit so that we don't have to find out. Whew!
The remote is pretty standard fare as far as they go. Nothing out of the ordinary, but all the features that will make your channel surfing experience everything that you're used to. It even has a "Recall" button to go back to the most recent channel that you switched from. Can you say Couch Potato?