The Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick lets you turn your PC or Laptop into a TV - and you can even play video games on it! It requires USB2 - and Vista users will face a few challenges. Read on to see how to get this to work.
We have used our laptop to take in TV signals for many different reasons. One time we wanted to play video games on a cruise. One time there was a good show on TV that we wanted to record to our PC for later watching. In another situation, I love the DDR dance games but our floor by the TV is too "shaky" and the TV shakes when I dance - so I wanted to play down in the basement with the solid floor, using the laptop screen to watch. My son wants to play Xbox games at college where they have computer monitors but no TVs. The possibilities for why you'd want to use this technology is pretty much endless.
So we've tried many different solutions over the years. A bonus with the Pinnacle PCTV is that it's REALLY small. It's just a tiny unit - maybe the size of a lipstick container - with wires coming out either end. So one end goes into the USB port on your PC or laptop. The other end goes into the red-green-yellow standard cables that connect you either to your TV or to your computer game (PS2, XBox, Wii, etc).
We have this working flawlessly with an XP computer. You plug it in, load up the software and voila you get sound and video. However, with our Vista computers it's much more challenging. Many of the applications we've used (including Adobe Elements which is rather good software) won't see the input. I had to download a shareware program - ChrisTV - to get the video coming in. Now I do want to give kudos to ChrisTV - the setup of his software was SUPER easy, you can download a free 21 day trial, and it was up and running in under five minutes. So that gets you the video feed.
However, no matter what I do, I just can't get the audio to come in to Vista via the Pinnacle device. What I finally did was get a converter plug that goes from the RCA output of the standard TV cable to a headphone input - and plug it into my boom box. My boom box has a "line in" jack. So now I can play the audio for my game through the boom box, through its line in. Seems a little kludgy to me.
Still, it actually works out really well when I'm playing DDR in my basement because I like the fuller sound of the boom box and it really doesn't matter that the video's going to my laptop while the audio's going to my stereo system in essence. And it does mean I can bring my PS2 anywhere I want in the house without lugging the big TV around, which is a big bonus.
So in short if you're on XP the Pinnacle HDTV will be great. If you're on Vista it's slightly more of a pain but it can certainly be gotten to work.
NOTE: A similar device we have used is the Dazzle Device for comparison.