HDTV on Your Laptop

Artec T14A USB ASTC digital TV tuner

You may have read some of my posts here where I make the case where the cut-off of analog over-the-air broadcast signals will be a non-issue by the time February 2009 finally rolls around. My contention is that there will be plenty of low cost ATSC digital tuners available as add-on products by then. As evidence, I point to the T14A from Artec. NOTE: I have not tested this product, and am not reviewing it here. My point is simply that it exists.

The T14A is a USB device designed to plug into a laptop or desktop computer running Windows XP or Media Center Edition. Connect it to an antenna suitable for digital signal reception, and you get digital TV on your computer. If the programming is broadcast in HD, then you’ll get HD on your screen. And it currently sells for less than $90.

Okay, if a Taiwanese company can squeeze all this into a device the size of a USB thumb drive and sell it at this price, then I would expect that they could build and sell a device for a regular analog TV today for half that. It’s simply a matter of increased demand that will motivate companies like Artec go after the legacy TV tuner upgrade market. It’s too soon for that, however; American consumers won’t really start getting anxious about their broadcast TV until 2008. I have no doubt, however that inexpensive solutions will flourish in the second half of 2008, and there’s no reason to worry about the end of analog broadcasts.