Watch whatever you want, whenever you want

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

Jim Jamieson

LEFT: Hauppauge WinTV-PVR USB2 ABOVE RIGHT: The Slingbox

It used to be that how and what you watched on your TV was about screen size and which cable package you subscribed to. That has all changed, of course, as the digital world insinuates its way into every nook and cranny of our lives. Nowadays, there’s a gadget available at your local electronics retailer to alter — and hopefully improve — just about every experience you can have with your TV. Here are a few:


Ever been on a trip and wished you could still catch your favourite soap opera or that crucial ballgame?

The Slingbox solves that problem by allowing you to watch the same content you would on your home TV on any computer with a broadband Internet connection.

Get it? This device — at 25 centimetres wide and 10 cm deep and 1/2 kilogram — is small and light enough to pack in a suitcase and means you could watch a TV stream from your home cable box, satellite receiver or PVR in any hotel room in the world. It also allows the less ambitous to stream TV anywhere in their house via wireless router.

Be aware, though, that the technology is far from perfect. Reviewers say that when The Slingbox is used wirelessly or over the Internet, the video signal degrades .

Suggested retail: $310


One of the biggest disappointments of owning a high definition TV in Canada is the dearth of high-def content available. This extends to video rentals, where DVD movies look good but not like they did when you saw them at the theatre because they aren’t recorded in true high definition. OPPO’s OPDV971H is one of a new wave of players that addresses that issue with something called video upscaling. Currently, DVD movies aren’t recorded in high definition, but the result is noticeably improved detail and colour. OPPO [] has received rave reviews for this player, which offers a multitude of features including playback of just about any format you can name.

Suggested retail: $199 US (available from their website)


Digital photographers have been viewing their pictures on TV for a while, but SanDisk has come up with a device that does it simply while offering added functionality.

About half the size of a VHS tape –187 millimetres x 66mm x 20 mm — Photo Album is nothing if not versatile. It has eight memory card slots — supporting CompactFlash Type I and II, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, SmartMedia, xD, xD Type M, SD and MultiMediaCard — as well as a slot for USB flash drives. The device allows you to show digital stills and digital video on your TV in addition to playing MP3 files on your stereo. Photo Album also comes with a remote that can zoom in and out and make video larger to fill your screen. It can also be used as a memory card reader for your computer. Suggested retail: $56


If you’re not particularly techno-friendly and you want to watch and record TV on your computer, check this out.

The WinTV-PVR USB2 turns your PC into a digital TV recorder, which allows you to burn the content on to CDs or DVDs. The device plugs into your PC or laptop’s USB port and gives you a 125-channel cable-ready TV tuner for TV in a window (or full screen). It can also turn home video tapes into MPEG movies.

Installation is simple: Plug into your PC or laptop’s USB 1.1 or 2.0 port, connect to any kind of TV reception (cable, antenna, etc.) or a VCR or camcorder and load the software from the installation CD.

The package also includes WinTV-Scheduler so you can schedule TV recordings on a daily, weekly or once-only basis, and a remote control. Suggested retail: $170

© The Vancouver Province 2005

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