ComPro VideoMate U3 DVB-T Stick review: ComPro VideoMate U3 DVB-T Stick

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The Good Simple installation. Adds media-centre like functionality to any USB 2.0 Windows PC.

The Bad Socket adaptor is way too tight. Included antenna may do nothing for your reception. Software can be a touch memory-hungry.

The Bottom Line If you want a simple and inexpensive way to add digital TV viewing to your PC experience, then the Compro VideoMate U3 comes largely recommended.

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When we first pulled the Compro VideoMate U3 DVB-T Stick out of its packaging, the first thought that struck us was that it was an extremely fossilised Kit Kat that somebody had painted black, or perhaps an extra-long USB Memory key. It's neither of these things however -- and we'd warn anyone away from having a test chew on it, just to be sure. It is instead a USB 2.0-based digital TV receiver in a very small form factor, designed to add Media Center-style functionality to any Windows PC.

The base "stick" comprises a USB plug at one end, and a small screw hole at the other. Into the screw hole you thread in a small and very tight-fitting coaxial connector, which can then be connected to the supplied tiny antenna, or any suitable antenna source that you have. It should be technically possible to use the VideoMate U3 to connect up other coaxial video sources, although we didn't test for this particular capability.

Installation of the VideoMate U3 involves installing the drivers for the device as well as the accompanying Compro DTV2 Digital TV software, and optionally the Compro DVD viewing software and Ulead Photo Explorer 8.5 SE. Once you've installed the software -- and undergone the mandatory reboot sequence -- you'll end up with two system tray icons that launch the DTV2 software and scheduling package. The first time you run the software, it'll automatically scan for digital TV signals and assign them to whatever channels it picks up.

The supplied software can naturally enough be used for watching free to air terrestrial digital broadcasts, but it's also compatible with teletext services, EPG information and it can be used for recording programs as well. The software even supports picture-in-picture functionality, although naturally as it's only got a single tuner, that's a picture of digital transmission and a picture of playback of an existing file.

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