capsule review

VB50HRTV

At a Glance
  • ViewSonic VB50HRTV

    Macworld Rating

Whether you're a college student in a tiny dorm room or you just want to check in on the happy couples of Temptation Island between downloads, you can use ViewSonic's affordable VB50HRTV TV tuner to transform your VGA display into a television set capable of displaying seamless video at resolutions as high as 1,024 by 768 pixels at 75Hz.

Setup is easy and requires no software or internal hardware. Other products that let you watch TV on your computer's monitor require you to either install a PCI card or attach a USB device, allowing you to capture or view a small 640-by-480-pixel window on your Mac's desktop. But the VB50HRTV is a switch that allows you to choose between viewing computer data or a full-screen TV signal on your monitor. (There is no picture-in-picture feature, but this would be a welcome improvement in a future release.)

To use the VB50HRTV, plug your monitor into the unit and use the supplied cable to connect your computer's VGA-out port to the VB50HRTV's RGB-in port. Then hook up some speakers to the unit's minijack audio port, connect your video source (antenna or cable TV, VCR, game console, or digital camcorder) to one of the video-in ports (RF, S-Video, or Composite), and then use the included remote control to switch between computer data and The Dating Game.

The VB50HRTV's buttons let you select input, adjust volume, and change channels. You can set preferences such as default input, resolution and refresh rates, and sleep timers using the 28-button remote control and the on-screen display. Unfortunately, the VB50HRTV doesn't support universal remotes.

Macworld's Buying Advice

It's not for everyone, but college students and TV addicts with limited home or office space will love this clever little box that turns your VGA monitor into a high-resolution TV set.

At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • No software needed
    • Inexpensive
    • Easy setup

    Cons

    • For use with VGA displays only
    • Lacks support for universal remotes
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