USB HD tuners for a mobile screen near you


Artec_2Since we don’t have the mobile digital TV airwaves covered like they do in the Far East, it’s nice to see some manufacturers stepping up with some ATSC, or High-Definition USB tuners! Even if your mobile screen can’t handle a 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080 resolution for full high-definition, you can still get a high quality digital television (DTV) signal from an ATSC tuner. (Fact for a future "Jeopardy!" question on HDTV: DTV has 18 different formats here in the US under the ATSC standard: HDTV is just one of those formats and they’re all better quality than SDTV or standard definition!)

Artec offers their T14A ATSC USB tuner for around $90, while FujiPlus has the FD-USB728 for around ten clams more. Both offer tuning capabilities for free local digital and high-def broadcasts over the air. If you live in or near a major city, there’s a good chance that you can pick up these free signals in all of their digital glory. I personally dropped my locals from Dish Network because I can get the same local channels in a much higher resolution (1920 x 1080) for free even though I’m 25 miles from Philadelphia.


You’ll need to attach an antenna to either of these USB tuners; each of them include one, but unless you live within a few miles of your local broadcast towers, you might need an amplified antenna. The USB 2.0 interface at 480 Mbps is plenty fast enough since MPEG-2 encoded high-def requires about 19.4 Mbps of bandwidth; yes, you’ll need that "Jeopardy!" too. Both ATSC tuners appear to include software that provides recording capabilities so you can time-shift that episode of "Oprah" you were planning to watch this afternoon. Or was that "Dr. Phil"? ;)

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