I’m dating myself here, but when I went off to college, the two essentials were a typewriter and a television. Technologies for both have advanced a long way since then, but the writing and entertainment functions remain fundamental requirements. Most notebook and desktop computers have DVD drives, so they can be used to watch movies. But watching television often still means using a separate device with a separate display. As money gets tighter and people start looking at ways to fit more functionality into smaller spaces, it makes a lot of sense to use your computer display for television content as well.
You currently have lots of ways to get television content on your computer screen. There are some good choices available if you have a broadband Internet connection (which certainly is the case with most college students). But a lot of people want to be able to access the broadcast and cable content that is available.
Pinnacle Systems has come out with new versions of their PCTV HD Stick and PCTV HD Pro Stick that make it easier than ever to get broadcast and cable on your computer. Like previous models, they just plug into a USB port on your computer, and can pull in both analog and digital broadcasts. The new feature is that they also can connect to digital cable systems, and display any of the “open” channels that aren’t scrambled. This feature is called “ClearQAM” and does not require a cable box. And both models let you use your computer as a personal video recorder (PVR), so you can record SD and HD broadcast shows to watch at another time. Both models are priced under $100, and you can find out more information at the Pinnacle Web site.