We've looked at a number of USB 2.0 external digital TV tuners lately and now it's the turn of Compro Technology's thumb-stick-style VideoMate U3. As with the others, the Compro uses the European DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting - Television) standard. Well, in the UK, you hardly want it conforming to anything else.
And, in areas where digital reception is reasonable, you typically expect such tuners to outperform analogue models, as well as offering the choice of many more channels - TV, plus radio. DVB-T also means that we're dealing with a device that takes a digital TV signal and provides the system with an MPEG-2 stream, most likely through a BDA driver.
We're seen pretty much the whole scope of external TV tuners, as far as physical design goes, and, in that sense, the Compo is just another thumb-stick model. However, what really can differentiate one product from another is the software - it's usability, features and performance. But, even then, things can get samey if the tuner will be used with third-party software such as Cyberlink's PowerCinema or the front-end built into Windows MediaCenter Edition.
So, let's see what the U3 has to offer.