OK. We’ve covered Matrixstream, which offers an MPEG-4 box and special software IP to stream HD over IP packets to a PC. This is an up-and-coming technology gaining particular interest among the telcos, who are looking to put this technology into a set-top-box for a "triple play" service offering.
Senior Analyst and Editor
of Projection Monthly
But now we hear (from Forbes late last week) of a savvy company using South Korean technology for a completely different spin. This company enables HD on the PC using portable HD tuners that get their signals not over the internet (IPTV) but over the air (OTA). (For those of you too young to remember, OTA is the old-fashioned way of receiving TV signals, popular before the age of satellites and cable delivery.)
The "OnAir GT" from AutumnWave is a USB 2.0 box that connects to a standard PC or laptop, turning your computer into an HDTV. It uses LG’s gen5 ATSC tuner/demodulator with up to 1920 x 1080 resolution, a hardware-based MPEG2 encoder, decoder and proprietary software that includes PVR recording, full-screen fast-forward and rewind functions. The device also supports QAM signals from digital cable and analog inputs from S-video and composite connectors. It offers full HDTV support and ACS/AAC audio decoding.
Truth be told, some of the best HD images are from ATSC digital OTA signals courtesy of your local TV network. If you have a high-def set with a digital tuner and antenna (mine is mounted in the attic and pointed toward the largest city) check out this image and compare it to images from satellite HD or cable.
The device is a good reminder that from a display perspective, high-definition resolution has been around PCs a lot longer than TVs. The standard 1024 x 768 resolution (or better) found on most LCD monitors surpasses the 720p (for progressive scaning) displayed on a 1280 x 720 HD set with the main difference in the 4:3 format (1024 vertical lines) versus the HD format that comes in a 16:9 (wide) configuration.
Our take: The OnAir GT offers a compelling option for getting HD on your PC without any of the IP networking issues. This is particularly compelling technology for students in dorm rooms and mobile business types that are space constrained or just have to have that HD programming fix, even while on the road.
The record-to-hard-drive function makes OnAir GT a ready substitute for TIVO - and without the cost of a monthly subscription. The analog inputs also makes the device a handy MPEG encoder for anyone looking to get home videos into a more permanent digital format: simply play back the video into the system, record to the hard drive and burn to a DVD. Andit’s all for under $179 at Target. CE / PC convergence has never come in a smaller package. –SS