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TV Tuners + Netbooks a Perfect Fit?



Dell Mini 10 NetbookLiliputing reports that MaxLinear and Hauppauge Digital are teaming up to build low-cost, low-consumption, low-size TV tuners for low-ly netbooks. Sounds like a good idea to me (already an option for the Dell Mini 10 shown here), and one that should make up for one of the drawbacks of a netbook – lack of a DVD drive.

Anecdotally, we’ve heard that consumers have backed away from or returned netbooks because they wanted something that can also play movies. A TV tuner would fill that void to an extent, allowing it to act as a portable TV, giving it an extra “entertainment anywhere” capability. Not a big deal for me, but I think it’s a good pairing and could perhaps grow into a standard netbook feature to give it some market differentiation. What do you think?



  1. Tim

    07/24/2009 at 9:40 am

    I see two problems with a TV tuner/netbook combination:

    1. Yeah you can take the netbook “anywhere,” but to watch TV you still have to have coaxial hookup. Obviously on a plane/train, you aren’t going to find a coax hookup, so it doesn’t fully replace a DVD player.

    2. Many people use their tuners as DVR’s. Well with a netbook hard drive, that becomes much harder, especially on SSD based netbooks.

  2. Sumocat

    07/24/2009 at 9:48 am

    @Tim: TV tuners grab broadcast TV too, not just cable.

  3. Dave

    07/24/2009 at 12:10 pm

    If MaxLinear is delving into the netbook market, it’s for good reason. This strategic alliance with Hauppauge is more than likely based on solid analysis and research from the Asian markets, where MaxLinear already has tremendous market share. MxL’s design team and engineering leadership are top-notch and their tuners are tough to beat. Likely to explode on the US market in the coming months, MxL is definitely a company to watch.

  4. Loren Heiny

    07/24/2009 at 12:38 pm

    A digital HD tuner isn’t going to work everywhere or as well as the previous generation of analog tuners. I’ve used one a bit and discovered for the areas I visit that quite often trying to pick up an over the air signal doesn’t work as well as I’d hoped. The antenna placement is the trick. Adjusting it reminds me of the old days of having to fiddle with rabbit ears on the TV to get a good signal. I also think that with Hulu re-broadcasting TV shows, SlingPlayer and other services, that onboard TV tuners aren’t as compelling.
    All this being said, I guess a TV tuner might be a good fallback, if the household power went out (so no wifi) during let’s say a tornado watch and you wanted to keep your eye on the local weatherperson’s reports via TV on your netbook. Assuming you’re close enough to the tower to get a HD signal, or there’s an analog repeater in your rural area that you can pick up (for the next year I think it is?), then maybe the TV tuner makes sense. But otherwise? I’d probably not opt for the feature because of any weight or battery life sacrifice I’d have to make.
    Also along these lines, I guess I can see a TV tuner working for someone in a car or where there’s no wifi. I’ll have to think about this. Am I missing something else that’s obvious?

  5. stuart

    07/26/2009 at 10:02 am

    I was very happy when I first heard of this. For me a netbook is all about portability and usefulness. Having a free portable TV is a nice feature if there are many places where you are that you might want to catch the weather or the ball game. I take my personal netbook to work everyday and I would be able to see March Madness live instead of slowing down the corporate network or trying to rely on 3G. It is just another feature that doesn’t add much cost but adds a lot of value depending on how you live your life and how you use your netbook.

  6. Gordon Cahill

    07/26/2009 at 7:08 pm

    I’ve had a TV tuner on every computer since my Vaio UX. It’s great when you need to kill an hour or so while away. I also used it to watch the Tour de France last week. Currently I use it on my P1620 and my HP 2133.

    I did have to get a new tuner recently, one that draws less power. Many need more grunt than a netbook can provide, especially for HD broadcasts. As long as I’m close to a window I get decent reception from the little antenna that’s provided.

    I don’t use it every day, but when I do it’s great.


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