AutumnWave OnAir GT USB2.0 HDTV ATSC Tuner Review
At the time of writing (February) the transition from analog to digital should have already taken place. Millions of older televisions should have already been converted to ATSC (the new digital standard) through use of converter boxes. The American government had already given reminders of this date and provided applications to receive $40 coupons. None of this really mattered as people still were unaware of the change and money had supposedly run out for coupons. As a result newly elected President Barack Obama pushed for extending the deadline for the analog to digital switch and has pumped more money for coupons. The new date is set as June 12, 2009.
As a Canadian, I wasn’t too affected by all of this as our digital switch date is in 2011 but I did notice some US networks I had been receiving in analog have been playing commercials reminding people of the transition much more so than previous and FOX 29 had already made the switch to digital (FOX 29).
Today I will look at another solution for all you out there who haven’t made the switch, want to be able to watch digital television in the comfort of your computer and/or don’t want to spend big bucks on a new HDTV set just yet. Previously we had taken a look ATSC cards from Pinnacle and AverMedia and today I will be reviewing the AutumnWave OnAir GT which looks to offer portability (USB2.0), video quality and just the overall total package more so than we’ve seen up to this point. Read on to see how the OnAir GT performs and if it’s one of the solutions you need to weigh in your considerations.
About AutumnWave (pulled from their website)
“Established in 2005, AutumnWave specializes in innovative technologies which include, but are not limited to, Digital Television, Lithium Ion Polymer Batteries, and Intellectual Property Rights Management Systems. AutumnWave is dedicated to fostering new methods that enable man to move eco-boundaries in renewable and sustainable energy and energy conservation technologies. The company is headquartered in Carlisle PA.”
HDTV (ATSC) / Analog TV (NTSC) / QAM Digital Cable Features
Audio and Video Features
The OnAir GT is sold through AutumnWave (and other retailers such as Amazon) for a price of $179. Initially you may think it’s pricey but for what you get, the price seems fair and possibly worth every penny? (Read on to see!)
After ordering the AutumnWave OnAir GT, it arrives to you in a compact but stylish corrugated box. There is information regarding the product at the back of the box. The box seems hefty and opening the packaging you’ll find these items with your purchase…
The AutumnWave OnAir GT includes an A/V adapter cable which allows you to connect to your PC devices that utilize the S-Video and composite RCA inputs. So if you have a video camera, you can connect it to the OnAir GT and capture its video through the included software.
OnAir GT comes with a full-size remote and I have to say that it’s the best one I’ve used yet. It offers total comfort, the rubber buttons are tactile and offer great feel. There are a host of features this remote can perform such as power on/off, zoom, record, etc. It has a bunch of empty function buttons that you can customize to your liking as well for more flexibility.
The added pouch is a bonus. It is branded with the OnAir GT logo and the product fits perfectly snug. The quality of the pouch is high and does not feel cheap.
Looking at the OnAir GT, it looks sleek and just a nice looking product being covered in gloss black plastic. It comes wrapped in plastic film from the factory to be removed (if you like) upon usage. LED’s are positioned at the front of the device and light blue and red when in use. The rear of the unit is not too busy offering the antenna F-connector connection, A/V IN port and USB connection.
No manual comes with the unit but in reality you don’t really need a manual since the OnAir GT is straightforward to use. It’s very easy and quick to get the unit up and running and all that is required is to install the software, Nvidia Purevideo decoder and connecting the unit for the first time. Simple and very easy is the name of the game.
The included telescopic antenna is basic but for portability you can’t really get any better. If you’re using the device in the home then obviously I will be recommending purchasing a better antenna for the unit unless you’re on the road, and in that case using the supplied antenna is fine.
While the OnAir GT HDTV software isn’t the best looking program I’ve come across, it does the job and does it pretty darn well. It’s easily the best software program I’ve tested so far for such a product. The program is an all-in-one solution to watch and record television, playback what you’ve recorded at a later date, capture video sources through the A/V adapter cable, schedule and record multiple programs, enable closed captioning. Everything that AutumnWave says can work with the program, actually works!
The program is quick, responsive and best of all stable. Previous programs I’ve tested don’t come close to the one supplied with the OnAir GT, this one is tough like a rock and is just fully packaged.
The OnAir GT’s video quality and performance is just exceptional and this can be attributed to the use of Nvidia’s Puredecoder allowing for great MPEG-2 video quality and great audio supporting even Dolby Digital 5.1. The overall experience is boosted by how good the software is on its own.
The program doesn’t seem to be a resource hog (15% CPU usage for me but I’m running a quad core Q6600), switching from digital channels takes about 2 seconds while analog channels change in a second, full screen mode makes use of the whole screen, you can record television so darn easily on the fly and make screen captures in either JPG or BMP format. Other things that are possible are adjustments to color, brightness, tint,
Great thing about the OnAir GT is that it lasts long. I’ve been using this review unit for a long time now so I guess you can say I did a bit of long-term testing. The product gets a little warm but never hot. No problems to report for close to a year now.
The AutumnWave OnAir GT is the best ATSC solution I’ve reviewed or come across at this point in time. It is a full-fledged product with great video, great audio, low CPU utilization and offers an excellent performing HDTV program. This is the one to get.
Pros and Cons