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Plextor Delivers USB-based HDTV Receiver

Fremont, Calif. — Computer peripherals maker Plextor has introduced a USB-based device that can deliver over-the-air HDTV programming to any computer.

The PX-HDTV500U Mini Digital HDTV Receiver is a two-part antenna/software system that can pick up analog or HD signals and when used with Microsoft’s Media Center software allows for PVR and time shifting. It is intended primarily for use with notebook computers, but it will work with any USB 2.0-equipped computer.

The device will ship on April 9 with an estimated $99 street price.

The primary component looks like an ordinary USB flash drive that plugs into the computer’s USB port. A small stand supporting a flat antenna is attached with a short chord and this is placed at the highest point near the computer, said Plextor engineer Bob Smith.

Plextor claims the Mini Digital HDTV Receiver will receive video in MPEG-2 in either a 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio. The receiver’s range varies, but Smith said tests conducted by Plextor indicate the device can pick up HD signals from about 50 miles away. The Consumer Electronics Association offers some information on DTV, however this site states that reception will differ for indoor antennas like Plextor’s.

The bundled software supports an electronic program guide, automatic channel scanning and a scalable screen sizes. A rather powerful computer is needed to process the HD signal. Requirements include a Pentium 4 3GHz, 512MB of memory, a VGA level graphics card with 512MB of on board memory, USB 2.0 and a sound card. The requirements are much less to receive standard definition TV with only a Pentium III processor, 256MB or memory, USB 2.0, sound card and graphics card with 32MB of memory.