Skip to main content

Pinnacle HD Pro Stick: Decent Hardware, Terrible Software


At a glance
ProductPinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick
SummaryCompact USB NTSC and ATSC tuner
Pros- All the hardware you need is included
- Can be used with Windows Media Center
- Compact, decent remote
Cons- Very poor bundled "media center application"
- Doesn't handle QAM (cable) HD

HTPC enthusiasts often gather a small crowd of curious onlookers who come to have a look at the equipment, knowing that they ultimately just can't justify the cost of investing in one of their own. If you're one of these onlookers, I'd like to let you in on a little secret: dig deep enough through all the bells and whistles of any fancy HTPC, and you'll discover that it's just a computer with a TV tuner in it.

If you're nervous about buying or building a whole new computer to use as an HTPC, then install a TV tuner in your current home PC and take it for a test drive. You might just like it. As it happens, I have just the tuner for such a test drive, and many of you will be pleased to find that it's as unthreatening as it is shiny. Meet the Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick.

There are not many devices that can significantly expand the entertainment value of your PC without making you crack open its case. The Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick, however, is one of them. Capable of handling NTSC (standard definition TV) and ATSC (High Definition Digital TV) with resolutions up to 1080i, the Pro Stick packs quite a lot of punch into a tiny package.

The best part about the Pro Stick is that it can migrate easily from an office PC to a full-fledged home theater PC, to a laptop, without skipping a beat. Going out? Take the Pro Stick with you. Disconnect it from your desktop and plug it into your laptop, a process that will take all of 10 seconds. Pack up the included antenna, head out the door, and take your entertainment with you.

Join our discussion on this topic

  • I cannot get this thing to work with MediaPortal. Still working on finding a solution, but MP doesn't find the device.

    Interestingly, it is Mac-compatible with EyeTV.

    Thanks for the write-up.