Miglia TVMini-HD: HDTV for your Mac

While in California, we picked up the Miglia TVMini HD. It's a USB ATSC tuner that is capable of picking up digital television signals from terrestrial antennas and from cable (assuming they are “Clear QAM” which means unencrypted). The included antenna is more of a toy than anything else. It's much to small to receive more than one channel in this area. The old fashioned yagi antenna should do much better.

Much to my delight we discovered that Comcast broadcasts quite a few channels as Clear QAM including all of the local channels and a few nationwide ones as well, even with the basic channel package (the one that's around $10/mo. that they don't advertise at all).

The picture quality is terrific– gone are the fuzzies, snow and interference of analog tv, especially when you receive a picture as 1080i. The unit retails for $199 but can be had for around $170.


Here is a short glossary so you won't spend the time looking up these terms like I did.

ATSC: Advanced Television Systems Committee. Just like NTSC of yesteryear, this is a set of standards that describes how video is sent and received. Also includes the standard of NTSC. The FCC will soon require all TV sets to include an ATSC tuner.

Clear QAM: Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, the method most cable companies have adopted to send digital television over their network. There is no FCC requirement for TV sets to include a QAM tuner, although some do. Clear means unencrypted. Obviously, encrypted QAM would be used to send premium channels such as HBO and Discovery.

1080i: 1080 lines of vertical resolution that is interlaced (i). Part of the ATSC standard.

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