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Laptop TV tuner offers hope

Not just anyone can call himself a geek. You qualify for geekdom if you've ever overclocked your PC, modded your Xbox or at least know what TCP/IP means. Building your own DIY PVR (personal video recorder to you nongeeks) also ranks high on the geek scale.

Say you are aspiring to claim geek status by building a PVR, but your PCs are too old to handle an add-on TV tuner from ATI or Hauppauge. Even worse, there is nowhere to put the tuner card if all you have is a laptop. And yet there is hope.

MiniTV USB tuner
Credit: ADS Tech

ADS Tech created the lighter-size MiniTV USB tuner. Just plug the USB 2.0 side of the tuner into your Windows XP computer and the other side to an antenna or cable connection. You can start watching TV right away because Windows instantly recognizes the unit.

Just like a true DVR, this PVR solution has time-shifting capabilities, allowing the viewer to rewind, fast-forward and pause live TV. Viewers also have the ability to schedule recordings of TV broadcasts. If the broadcast is worth saving, the show can be burned to a CD in VCD format or to a DVD for later viewing.

The package includes the USB-based TV tuner, a USB 2.0 cable, an antenna and an antenna MCX-to-F connector. No external power supply is included because the unit is USB-bus powered. Also included is a CD with drivers and TV PVR digital home theater software. Priced at $79, the unit is scheduled to be available in the U.S. by mid-April.