Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Windows 8.1 Preview Disables the Pinnacle PCTV 80e USB Mini Stick TV Tuner

imageI currently use the Pinnacle PCTV 80e USB stick ATSC TV tuner with Windows Media Center or the device’s supplied TV Center software under Windows 7 to time-shift off-air content from California PBS stations. The PCTV 80e device, which is now supported by Hauppauge, is available from a variety of sources at prices ranging from about US$30 (Compuvest, refurbished Ultimate version) to $85 (Amazon, new original 80e version shown above). I bought my two PCTV 80e sticks from Compuvest for about US$25 plus shipping. A short cable acts as an MCX to Type F coax converter for connection to my rooftop antenna.

Update 7/3/2013: See the Using a Surface Pro Tablet and a PCTV Tuner USB Stick as a PVR/DVR post to my Android MiniPCs and TVBoxes Windows Azure Web Sites demo for more PCTV 80e details.

Update 7/2/2013: Due to failure of TVCenter v6.4.5.933 software to install under Windows 8.1 Pro Preview on my Surface RT, I reinstalled v6.4.4.905 and Windows Media Center for Windows 8, and set up Media Center.

Important: Be sure to apply all Windows Updates to your Surface Pro tablet before running the Channel Scan. One of the early updates is critical to using the v6.4.4.905 software with the PCTV 80e.

The Windows 8 Compatibility Center has an entry for the Hauppauge PCTV HD Mini Stick 80e TV Tuner Card that displays No Info. Check with Manufacturer for the device, but has two Compatible votes (one is mine):


imageThe Hauppauge pages have no references to the PCTV 80e and a search on 22461 leads to a Pinnacle 22461 PCTV Mac HD USB Mini Stick item on Amazon.com with two sellers of used devices, which include El Gato software, for US$79.99 plus $4.99 shipping. Thanks to Barb Bowman (@barbbowman) for the Compatibility Center link.

imageAccording to the LinuxTV wiki, the PCTV 80e isn’t supported under Linux, although there is now a beta driver which can be found here. A more up to date driver can be found here. Following are the components:


Although the Pinnacle TVCenter software prerequisites didn’t include Windows 8 at the time, I successfully installed a second PCTV 80e and TVCenter v6.4.4.905 software on my Surface Pro 64-GB tablet that runs Windows 8. Using the PCTV 80e with Windows Media Center for Windows 8 worked as expected.


Only the TVCenter (viewer) and TVCenter Settings apps and TitanTV link installed. TVCenter Gallery was missing, so I used another app to transcode the native MPEG Transport Stream (*.ts) files to MPEG-2 (*.mpg) container format. I subsequently purchased and installed the Windows Media Center feature for Windows 8 and it worked as expected with the PCTV 80e stick.

After updating my Surface Pro to Windows 8.1 (Windows Blue) Preview, the two TVCenter applications no longer worked, displaying only the splash screen when activated. The device appeared as PCTV 80e under Device Manager’s Sound, Video and Game Controllers node and reported “This device is working properly.” I added the Windows Media Center for Windows 8.1 feature, which did not display live TV. For more details, see my Windows Blue Preview Breaks Pinnacle PCTV TVCenter v6.4.4.905 on Surface Pro. Will this be fixed? thread in the Windows 8.1 Preview forum.

Update 6/30/2013: I discovered that PCTV Systems had upgraded their TVCenter software to v6.4.5.983, which explicitly supports Windows 8, but not the PCTV 80e stick. There was support for devices similar to the 80e, so I installed this TVCenter software on a Windows 8 instance running on my primary Windows development machine. PCTV 80e had been running for a couple of years under Windows 7 with Windows Media Center on this machine with an Intel DQ45CB motherboard. All TVCenter apps installed and worked as expected.


I then updated the Windows 8 instance to Windows 8.1, which disabled the TVCenter viewing app.

I removed TVCenter v6.4.4.905 from my Surface Pro and attempted to install v6.4.5.933. The installer reported “The DivX codec v6.6 is required for Windows” and installed it, but the main TVCenter software refused to install under Windows 8.1 Pro Preview.

Update 7/2/2013: Removed TVCenter v6.4.5.933 software, reinstalled v6.4.4.905 and Windows Media Center for Windows 8, and set up Media Center. Back to Square One.

The PCTV 80e and TVCenter software support Windows Broadcast Driver Architecture (BDA), so support for BDA by Windows Media Center in Windows Blue is suspect. For more details, see my Installed Windows Media Center as added feature but Live TV feature fails with Pinnacle 80e TV Stick. When will this be fixed? thread in the same forum.

Note: This article was excerpted from the Potential Personal Video Recorder (PVR/DVR) TV Boxes article on my Android MiniPCs and TVBoxes Windows Azure Web Site.