OnAir Solution GT Mobile HDTV TunerFeb 11th, 2008 | By Archive
OnAir Solution GT Mobile HDTV Tuner
: 02/11/08 – 05:28:40 AM
: Video Cards
Page 1 : Index
$159.00 after discount
AutumnWave represents OnAir Solution in North America and was established in 2005 to bring you everything from mobile USB HDTV Tuners to Digital TV Transport Stream Analyzers for broadcasters. They are located in the lovely foothills of the Appalachian Mountains just outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
So who is OnAir Solution? OnAir Solution manufactures the OnAir GT and other OnAir branded products. AutumnWave is the North American distributor for these products who provides USA technical support, sales, and marketing.
What brings these two organizations together at Overclockers Online is the
OnAir Solution USB HDTV-GT (OnAir GT)
distributed by AutumnWave.
Page 2 : Package
The OnAir USB HDTV-GT is a USB powered HDTV Receiver / Personal Video Recorder that retrieves its signal over-the-air (OTA). The entire package comes inside a relatively small cardboard box, measuring in at 8.5'x6.25'x2.5'.
The backside of the package goes into great detail about features of the USB HDTV-GT as well as how simple it is to set up, the contents of the box and the bundled software.
On the two sides of the package, the box details benefits of the PVR, how user-friendly the entire system is, and what the system requirements are.
Page 3 : Package Content
The package is well organized on the inside. Sitting on top of the components is a thank-you note for purchasing the onair HDTV-GT, an installation guide redirecting you to their website or driver CD and a driver CD containing the necessary help files and software. Beneath the paperwork and CD is the OnAir GT and the included accessories.
The OnAir GT comes packaged inside an anti-static bag along with an extendable antenna and a carrying pouch. The remaining accessories include a remote control with two AAA batteries and a package of cables: USB and AV cables.
The device fits snuggly into the carrying pouch and there is even a spot for the antenna. What's missing is a place to slot in the USB cable. I think if you were going to carry the OnAir GT around, a Velcro strap or a second elastic band to slide the USB cable in would be a great addition. In the meantime, I bunched up the USB cable and put it on top of the device before pulling the cover over.
The OnAir GT is basically a circuit board housed inside a plastic shell. The casing is pretty unobtrusive and you can place it anywhere without drawing too much attention to it. The underside of the casing is pretty boring and on the backside we can see the connection points. From left to right we have the antenna/coaxial cable connection, A/V In and a mini-USB port. With the exception of a coaxial cable to connect the tuner directly to your cable, the basic accessories are included. You could of course opt for a more elaborate antenna system at your own cost.
The casing is held together by two little screws which can be removed with a Phillips screwdriver. Popping the case apart allows you to lift the entire circuit board out.
With everything out, we'll take a more detailed look at the specifications.
Page 4 : Specification
The AutumnWave website is fairly easy to navigate and with their small product line, it wasn't hard to find the OnAir GT. The website boasts many of the features the OnAir GT will bring to you and we'll see how many of these are exactly true in our review.
As I mentioned in the earlier page, I had opened up the OnAir GT and pulled out the circuit board. From visually analyzing the board, I can see that it's the onair USB HDTV GT-CX Rev 1.3. There is also a URL to http:/www.onairsolution.co.kr.
There are two primary chips on the circuit board of interest. The first is a Conexant CX25843-24Z chip which is often paired up with the CX23416 from what I've found on the internet. This combination provides USB TV Tuner functionality which, according to AutumnWave, is the same LG tuner technology found in $5000 HDTV sets. This really makes the OnAir GT a bargain! The other big chip found on the back of the PCB is a CY7C68013A-56PVXC. This is a Cypress USB Microcontroller which is typically used in low powered devices such as portable video recorders, MPEG/TV conversion, DSL Modem, ATA interface, etc. Some other ICs found on the board include three Fairchild LCX257s which are multipliexers.
Page 5 : Setup & Installation
Setting up and installing the software of the OnAir GT was
simple. The first thing I did was prep my laptop by installing all of the necessary drivers and software. The autorun on the CD asks that you select the OnAir HDTV Tuner that you purchased. From there, you can browse the User Manual or install the required driver, program and optional nVidia Decoder and WinDVD Creater.
Starting with the OnAir GT Driver, it reminds you to
plug in your device when installing the drivers. A few clicks later and the install is complete.
At this stage, you can plug in the OnAir GT into your computer. Windows will detect the new device and you can go ahead and have it locate the drivers. Chances are you will see the warning about how the driver has not passed the Windows Logo testing; you should continue with the installation regardless. A few moments later and the drivers will be installed.
With the driver out of the way, I continued with the OnAir GT Program and nVidia Decoder. The product key for the nVidia Decoder is on the back of the CD Sleeve. I opted not to install WinDVD Creater, but a license is provided to you by AutumnWave should you wish to.
Once the software has been installed, you'll find two new shortcuts available.
Before we proceed with executing the shortcuts, I'll give you a quick rundown on setting up the hardware. For starters, the cables plug directly into the back of the device and the included antenna screws right in.
The included batteries for the remote control snap into the back like every other remote control in the world.
You will need to adjust the antenna in order to get the best possible signal in your house. There are two LEDS on the front of the OnAir GT, a blue LED to indicate the device is recieving power, and a red LED to indicate HDTV Signal. Your goal is to adjust the antenna until the red LED disappears when you're scanning for your channels. The folks at AutumnWave gave me a few links that will help you in setting up your antenna. If you live in Canada, please visit DigitalHome.ca and if you live in the USA, visit AntennaWeb.org to find out how to get the best reception and what to expect in your area.
Once you have the antenna in position, you're ready to start up the application.
Page 6 : Operation
On the last page, I mentioned how two new shortcuts will be available for you. Executing the OnAirGT Remove Control shortcut allows you to use the included remote control to power on the TV, change the channel/volume, input source, etc. The OnAirGT TV will fire up the viewing program, as if you pressed the 'On' button your TV. If it's your first time running the application, it will ask you for permission to change the working directory to support multiple tuners, agree with this and move on.
The next pop-up will ask you for permission to scan for all available channels, a must-do if you want to watch TV. There are multiple sources that the channel scanner will go through: analog and digital TV for both cable and over-the-air. The process takes a few minutes, but you simply need to do it to get your TV channels. I recommend adjusting your antenna and rescanning a few times to maximize the number of channels you get.
On my first scan, I was able to pick up three digital channels over the air. This isn't bad given my location. I do not have visual contact with the CN Tower which is where a majority of the HDTV OTA channels come from so I can't expect too much. When I brought the OnAir GT to a 15th floor apartment due north of the CN Tower by 4 km, I was able to pick up an additional channel. (Not shown in this review)
Depending on where you live, you may get more or less. I did pick up a number or analog channels over the air, but that's pretty boring as the picture tends to be snowy, laggy and in black and white if you're not near the source. If you've having trouble picking up reception, you can refer to this FAQ by AutumnWave. It's also a good idea to check out AVS Forum to see what channels are in your area. You must be aware that the folks at AVS have far more powerful antennas than what has been provided by AutumnWave and OnAir Solution.
Once you have your channels set up, you can play with the options and menus to reveal different features. A key selling point on the OnAir GT is the PVR so a good scheduler is required. The included scheduler works quite well and gives you plenty of options.
The basic on-screen control panel looks similar to Power DVD's control panel. You can see the signal strength of your channel (23.46 dB), the channel name (CFTO HD), the time (10:59:58 PM), the aspect ratio (16:9), maximum resolution (1920×1080) and various audio details (Stereo, Dolby Digital). From this panel, you can change the source (Digital TV) to any of the other inputs, change the channel with the up and down arrows, volume, playback and record.
All of this can also be done with the remote control. Custom functions can be programmed which can also be executed off of the remote.
The TV is HDTV quality so you can expect a crystal clear picture. Once you achieve the required signal to noise ratio (20 dB for OTA) then you're good to go. If you don't achieve the 20 dB than you don't get any picture; there's no in-between. This guarantees you a sharp image for your viewing pleasure. The best you can hope for is getting more OTA channels in your area. AutumnWave has posted this FAQ on how to improve your resolution. Here are a few snapshots of what I was able to watch. I used my Samsung 245BW monitor, native resolution 1920×1200. Since HDTV is 1920×1080, the OnAir GT lets me fully appreciate the TV shows.
All HD channels are watermarked with HD at the bottom right by the channel provider so you know you're getting HDTV from the OnAir GT.
Change the source to Analog OTA, I was able to pick up more channels but at a lower picture quality. Your experience will differ from mine based on where you live.
For the sake of completeness, I'll run through some of the options available with OnAir GT's software and provide you with a few screenshots to look at. The first option page is adjusting the drivers. Here you can fine tune what the TV Tuner should pick up and what standards you want available.
The second option is how the audio and video should be decoded, the default is DxVA (DirectX Video Acceleration) for video and Wave – Stereo for audio.
Recording and timeshifting is an option available with the OnAir GT but it has to be manually enabled. There's good reason for this, if you don't have a lot of hard drive space, timeshifting could easily eat the rest of it up and lag your machine. Timeshifting is not available for Analog TV because of the additional resources required. If you want analog timeshifting, you have to purchase the OnAir Creator which costs an additional 50 dollars or so. While timeshifting is not available for the analog signal, you can create still captures and record your favourite show.
A couple TV screen options are available including changing the OSD color, overscan and closed caption option.
As mentioned earlier, the remote control can be customized to your liking.
Finally, there's the miscellaneous section where you can adjust the little stuff like formatting the time, enabling some audio effects, etc.
For those who already have a media center, this would be the perfect compliment. You could cut your home's bill by getting rid of your cable service and setting up the OnAir GT with your media PC that outputs to a big 50' plasma!
Page 7 : Conclusion
After several weeks of enjoying HDTV broadcasts, of which many more will come, it's time to wrap up the review. There's no shortage of the good things the OnAir GT can provide for you. As you travel the globe, you can have live TV at your fingertips. You can trim down your home's monthly fee by getting rid of conventional cable and watching everything off your PC – a feasible solution given the increasing size and availability of large widescreen monitors. They're not as big as your LCD TV or Plasma TVs, but that's a different topic which can be easily fixed if you have a HD compatible TV, PC and the OnAir GT.
While it's hard to pick out any flaws in the OnAir GT, there is room for some improvement. The consequence will of course be additional cost. OnAir GT could provide a slightly bigger antenna to help you pick up a few extra channels. The consequence of this would be increased cost and possibly the need for supplemental power, a nice option regardless of including a better antenna or not as it could increase your signal strength.
For what's packaged in the box and what you are paying for, my viewing pleasures with the OnAir GT have been extremely positive. The picture, simply stated, is HDTV quality. Every channel you get is crystal clear. As well, the analog channels are at your fingertips should they be of watchable quality. The simplicity of the OnAir GT, from software to hardware, makes it a very viable solution for any family.
- Compact and lightweight
- USB Powered
- Simple and easy to use
- Comes with a remote
- OTA & Cable (HD) compatible
- Channel availability dependent on where you live so do your homework!
Overclockers Online would like to thank AutumnWave for making this review possible.