This TV Tuner / DVR Stick Works Without the Internet

My latest review takes a look at my latest Amazon gadget find: a super portable standalone ATSC 1.0 television tuner from an unknown brand called DCOLOR that is USB powered and works without an active Internet connection.

This TV tuner stands out for its ability to function without an Internet connection, tapping into the ATSC 1.0 standard for standard and high-definition content. While most televisions made over the last 10-15 years or so have a built in ATSC 1.0 tuner, this device adds DVR capability, enabling users to record directly onto a USB storage device. It’s also useful for computer monitors that lack a built-in TV tuner.

The tuner’s design is straightforward: a coax connector for the antenna, a USB power cord, and an HDMI port capable of 1080p, 720p, and 480 resolutions. There’s a second USB connector that attaches to the built-in infrared receiver for the included remote control.

In operation, the tuner is user-friendly. The infrared receiver, although a bit dated in design, displays the current channel and it can’t be turned off. The channel flipping is surprisingly swift, even for high-definition channels. A unique aspect is its old-school VCR-like recording capability – push the record button and it starts recording whatever is on screen until you stop it.

The electronic program guide, pulled over the air, offers a basic, non-grid view of upcoming programs. The device supports scheduled and manual recordings, adding to its utility. Playback quality is an exact copy of what it received over the air with support for closed captioning. Interestingly, this device also doubles as a rudimentary media player, allowing playback of videos and music files stored on a USB device.

However, the device isn’t without its limitations. The firmware update process is unclear – in fact all they give you is a gmail address for support. The interface, though functional, is far from cutting-edge. It’s a product that doesn’t promise extravagance but delivers on its basic premise – a simple, effective way to watch and record TV without internet dependency.

For those seeking a basic, no-frills approach to TV tuning and recording, especially in contexts like boats or RVs, this device could be useful.

Gadget Pick: Mic Stick for DJI & RODE Mics

I recently came across a stick mic adapter designed for microphones like the DJI Mic system. While these mics are typically clip-ons, this adapter allows you to transform them into a stick mic, perfect for on-the-street interviews. You can see my full review on Amazon here.

The mic stick is made of plastic, and while it’s lightweight, I did wish it felt a bit more rugged. It comes with a windscreen and has a mounting point for the mic. The adapter can be held in your hand or mounted to other devices with a tripod mount on the side and bottom.

The DJI mic attaches to the adapter quite securely. The windscreen, however, doesn’t fit the microphone perfectly, but with a bit of adjustment, it can be made to work.

I conducted a quick audio test with the windscreen on and off. The sound quality was about the same in either configuration, but I did notice that the stick picks up sounds when you run your fingers across it. It’s best to hold it firmly to minimize any noise.

One thing to note is that the DJI mics are omnidirectional, meaning they pick up sound from all directions. So, if you’re in a noisy environment, this might not be the ideal solution. However, for quick interviews on the go, it does the job quite well and lets you use a single microphone solution regardless for both studio and run-and-gun field work.

Gadget Pick: MakeID L1 Label Printer

I recently had the opportunity to try out the tiny MakeID L1 Label Printer. You can see my full review here on Amazon.

If you’ve ever used a Brother P-Touch printer, this device operates in a similar fashion except this one uses an app versus an on-device keyboard.

The printer itself is quite simple. It’s a basic thermal printer that prints in one color. It’s not designed for printing photographs, so it’s best to stick to clip art that you’ll find in the app. The ribbon with an adhesive backing is stored inside the printer. I used a white one that came with the printer, but there are other colors available.

The printer is equipped with a built-in battery, allowing it to operate wirelessly. It connects via Bluetooth to an iPhone or an Android device. The charge should last through a good organizational session, but you might want to plug it in if you’re planning an all-day project.

The app also offers the option to save your designs for future use. Even if you forget to save, the app keeps a log of everything that was printed, which is quite handy. However, it’s worth noting that the app doesn’t support barcodes or serialization.

Overall, I found the MakeID L1 Label Printer to be a useful tool for home use. While the printer itself is inexpensive the ribbons cost a bit more than I expected. In some cases you’ll pay more for ribbons on the L1 than you will on the P-Touch!