Pinnacle PCTV Nanostick review

It's half the size of a typical USB TV tuner but is the Nano also short on features?

Pinnacle PCTV Nanostick
There are enough features and options on the PCTV Nanostick to satisfy enthusiasts

TechRadar Verdict

At £40, the Nano is great value for money. The TV Center Pro EPG presentation leaves something to be desired, but there are enough features and options – all of which work very well – to satisfy enthusiasts. Now all we need is a version that supports DVBT2


  • +

    Good reception capability

  • +

    Recording format support

  • +

    Editing software


  • -

    Simplistic EPG

  • -

    Not Freeview HD-compatible

  • -

    Windows Media Center niggles

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At 55mm, this tiny PC tuner is about half the size of the average tuner stick.

It also supports AVC HD but this doesn't make it compatible with upcoming Freeview HD broadcasts, which will use DVB-T2.

Also in the box is a portable rod antenna fitted with a magnetic base and an adapter that plugs into the end of the Nano allowing you to connect it to a standard (ideally rooftop) aerial. There are no connectors for external audio or video capture.

Good reception

Although it's small, the supplied remote isn't of Nano-proportions – being about the size of two sticks of gum – with similarly sized buttons that prove responsive and do the job well enough.

The Nano can be used in conjunction with Microsoft's Media Center as well as the supplied TV software, Pinnacle's Media Center 'equivalent', TV Center Pro.

From our third-floor London office the portable aerial managed to pick up channels from all multiplexes via the Crystal Palace transmitter in under two minutes with only occasional picture break-up – better than previous Pinnacle TV products we've tested.

Favourites lists can be created for TV and radio or internet radio channels if you have enough free space on your hard disc.

Extended EPG

TV Center Pro has a plain-looking interface. A row of menu icons runs along the top of the screen with PVR style buttons shown underneath.

You can rely on standard Freeview 7-day DVB info for the EPG but if you want 14 days' worth of data in advance you can subscribe to a downloadable Premium EPG.

Using the standard option, EPG data can be displayed rather simplistically either as a long list of what's showing on all channels skippable on an hourly basis, or as a list of what's coming up on a single channel.

Clicking on a programme brings up a summary and clicking on 'record' schedules a recording. Alternatively, an unlimited number of recordings can be scheduled using a manual timer. The software notifies you if clashes occur and you can set a buffer either side.

Speedy device

You can record straight to DVD or hard disc and in numerous formats/quality settings including the native MPEG-2 transport stream, DVD, SVCD, VCD, DivX Home Theater, and DivX Portable/DivX handheld. Recordings can be edited afterwards using Pinnacle Videospin, a nifty separate application that is relatively easy to master.

Timeshifting starts when you press/click pause, whereupon a progress bar appears, allowing you skip back and forth (fast-forward and rewind), all of which occurs very smoothly. Also included is DistanTV, a program for streaming from one PC to PC.

The Pinnacle PCTV Nanostick worked fairly well with our test laptop, an Intel Core Duo 2 processor 2.50GHz with 2046MB RAM running Windows Vista 64-bit, although Windows Media Center seemed to 'misplace' a few channels on occasion, requiring re-scans. There were no hiccups using the Nano with TV Center Pro whichever recording format we chose.