Review of Hauppauge WinTV-MiniStick HD TV-tuner

Summary: Hauppauge is back with another one of their magnificent tuners.  WinTV-MiniStick HD is an USB TV-tuner stick equipped with TimeShifting and timer recording.


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Hauppauge has been amongst the market leaders for computer TV tuners for a very long time, I cannot remember when they were not there actually. I have been using their products for some years now and my experience is that one can always expect the best from Hauppauge. But as always, this is a new product and I shall review it as if I had never heard of Hauppauge.



INTRODUCTION

The WinTV-Ministick HD is capable of tuning in on TDT, radio DVB-T and TDT HD channels. This means Hauppauge hasn’t included an analog tuner with this product. Thus, the WinTV-MiniStick HD is aimed towards consumers in countries where the free channels are broadcasted digitally. Although Hauppauge tries to convince us that TDT HD is around the corner, the reality is rather different, at least where I am located (Spain). Here, only a few channels exist that broadcast in TDT HD. Nevertheless, the hybrid character of WinTV-MiniStick HD is a good thing and should give this product a longer active life span.



The technical characteristics of the product are pretty impressive, take a look:

 

  • TDT HD (standard MPEG-4 H.264), up to 4 times higher definition than normal TDT
  • TDT (MPEG-2)
  • Timer function (WinTVScheduler)
  • Remote control “Hauppauge TO GO”
  • Recording in MPEG-4
  • DVB-T Radio reception


Hardware requirements:

  • 1.2 GHz Intel ® or equivalent for TDT
  • For TDT HD: Core Duo processor or Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz or equivalent or if combined with a graphic card from nVidia 8 Series or ATI 10 Series the required CPU can be lower
  • Graphics card with 64MB of RAM
  • Soundcard
  • USB 2.0 (it does not work with USB 1.1)



FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Hauppauge WinTV-MiniStick HD comes in an ordinary cardboard box. In the front, a small opening exists which allows you to see the product completely. On the box Hauppauge emphasizes on the hybrid character of the stick and that it can tune in on TDT HD channels.


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On the box is also printed the minimum requirements, which as you could see above, are quite high, at least for the HD function. When I opened the box I found the USB stick and all the included accessories:  a manual; the installation CD-ROM; an USB extension cable; the remote control and the antenna with a mounting platform (magnetized).


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HAUPPAUGE WINTV-MINISTICK HD IN DETAIL

WinTV-MiniStick HD is a rather small USB stick, it’s actually the smallest tuner I’ve come in contact with. I don’t know if it’s the smallest one available on the market, but I wouldn’t be surprised. It has a finish in black plastic and looks quite good.



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Unlike other products from Hauppauge, this stick only has one antenna connector as you can see from the image above. That image should also give you an idea of how small the unit actually is.


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The stick has two LEDs which keep you informed of the unit’s state of activity and if you are receiving a normal TDT or a TDT HD channel. In the middle of the stick, Hauppauge has placed the infrared receiver for the remote control.



INSTALLATION AND TESTS

 

The WinTV-MiniStick HD is easy to install. Basically, all you need to do, is insert the stick into a USB 2.0 port and connect the antenna to the unit. Of course you can connect either the included antenna or a stationary antenna if you are at home. Normally you will have a better quality if you use a bigger antenna (stationary). Finally, we installed the drivers and the WinTV7 program which we got with the bundle.

 

 


In order to find the best possible signal when using the table antenna, Hauppauge have included a tool called “SignalMonitor”. The program isn’t hard to use, just start it and move the antenna around to find the best signal. The signal should always remain in green otherwise you won’t be able to enjoy using WinTV-MiniStick HD.


When the WinTV7 is executed for the first time, you are prompted to select the country where you are located and then the program immediately starts scanning for DVB-T channels. When the search is finalized, all the available channels are shown in a list. The WinTV7 application is very simple and intuitive to use and you can use it as a regular media player as well as the program you use to watch TV on your computer. The WinTV7 has support for the “TimeShifting” and the “Timer” recording features of the WinTV-MiniStick HD and they are easy to handle.


 

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The grouping of buttons in the center of WinTV7 allows us to make use of the TimeShifting function. This function allows you to watch TV in slow motion, to pause and resume the broadcast at any time.

 

 

Without a doubt, one of the best features with the WinTV-MiniStick HD is its ability to record television in real time or with the Timer function. The recording is controlled with a red button. Press this and the recording starts in the format you have chosen. Available formats are; MPEG-4 H.264 for TDT HD and MPEG-2 for TDT. The recorded media file is saved in a pre specified folder.

 

 

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The WinTV7 is a very interesting application, offering functions like the TimeShifting and Timer recording in such an easy way. I think this program considerably increases the value of the WinTV-MiniStick HD.



CONCLUSIONS

The WinTV-MiniStick HD offers good image and sound quality both in TDT and TDT HD. I love the fact that WinTV7 uses the graphics card to diminish the load on the CPU. I am also very impressed by the included software, especially by how easy it is to operate. The WinTV-MiniStick HD goes for around 50€ here in Europe and isn’t currently available in the US as far as I know. This price is really good in my opinion. To be honest, I really expected the WinTV-MiniStick HD to be nothing short of exceptional and I wasn’t disapointed.



Strong points Weak points

Image quality

None I can think of

TimeShifting and Timer recording

Size, ideal to use with laptops

WinTV V7, far better that its predecessors

 

Price




Hauppauge WinTV-MiniStick HD

Packing and accessories

1,4/1,5

General quality

1,6/2

Capacity of reproduction

2/2

Quality of image and sound

1,5/2

Software

2/2

Price

0,5/0,5

Total

9/10


The final score is 90 out of 100 owls, and we give the “Hauppauge WinTV HD” our Editor’s Choice Award.


TestSeek Labs Editor's Choice 2009 Award


Don’t forget to check for alternate TV-tuners in our TV-tuner category, here are a few popular USB TV sticks:


Pinnacle PCTV DVB-T Flash Stick

Hauppauge WinTV HVR-900

Elgato EyeTV Hybrid USB2

Hauppauge WinTV HVR-950

Pinnacle PCTV Hybrid Pro Stick 340e


Thanks to Hauppauge the for letting us review the WinTV-MiniStick to us HD.



Author: Manuel González Fernández

Translator: Vince Emiloz Sanderson




 


  1. Hok
    September 18th, 2009 at 17:50 | #1

    Please tell us what format that is supported as hardware accelerator? I wish all 2009 TV Tunner is hardware accelerator, but I thing not :( .

  2. Manuel González Fernández
    September 22nd, 2009 at 02:30 | #2

    I don´t understand your question. You ask about accelerate video playback? TV tuners can´t accelerate videos.

  3. Psyon
    October 27th, 2009 at 01:39 | #3

    I think HOK is asking.. Hardaware Acceleration. Meaning instead of using the PCs processor and Graphics Card. use the TV Card’s \Hardware\ to do the processing.

  4. Talha
    November 21st, 2009 at 12:13 | #4

    Hi, I just got the 950Q.
    In our area for regular non HD channels upto 99, we do not need any box. So I attached cable directly to the HVR 950Q.
    When channels scanned on Win YV 7, they are a list of multiple numbers and not in same sequence as they come on my TV. So I can’t figure out which channel is which from their guide list.
    However when I open and use my Windows media plyer the guide is perfect. So I can’t imagine how anybody can use Win TV program guide with regular cable.
    Any ideas how to organize Win TV guide with proper names ? Thanks.

  5. Michel Fleuré
    November 28th, 2009 at 03:06 | #5

    Hi, I have recently bought the WinTV-MiniStick HD TV-tuner. I think it is a very good product, far easier to use than a hard-drive classic recorder.
    The matter is : I coupled the stick to a small Esus EEE Pc, but the image’s quality is limit. Suppose you are seeing a film with someone in movement, the result you get on the pc is a not natural movement (sudden, abrupt).
    I looked at the CPU Utilization, and found that it is very high, frequently 100%. The CPU is 1,6 Ghz fast. The graphics card is a mobile intel 945 express chipset family and the graphics memory steps from 8MB to 224 MB. So I am compliant to the hardware requirements, where is the problem ?

    What configuration did you use for your test ?

    Thanks for your work.
    Michel Fleuré

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