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Review Terratec Cinergy T Stick Dual RC HD

by Tobias Winkler, 08/20/2010

Inexpensive DVB-T Receiver.

Mobile television reception is one possible alternative for neither missing out on the great weather, nor on your favorite TV series, especially on summer days. Read in this review just how well this works with Terratec's Cinergy T Stick.

DVB-T coverage in in Germany is almost comprehensive. Thus the "blank patches" are also almost completely gone on the survey map. Regionally, the kind and number of available channels are still quite different. You can find an overview at http://überallfernsehen.de/.

The 88x29x15 mm stick is a bit broader than usual and comes in a white case. It weighs 20g (50 g with the antenna). The long construction design has an antenna socket at its back end, as usual, which provides for the necessary signal transmission. We find a credit card sized remote control and an antenna with a magnetic base and a ca. 1.15 m long cable. A USB extension that would be particularly sensible due to the wide construction form are, in opposition to the previously reviewed T Stick Black, not included in scope of delivery. We checked the stick with a netbook (HP Mini 5101, Intel Atom N280, 2 GB RAM) and a notebook (HP Probook 6540b, Intel Core i5-430M), which have quite different performance reserves available.

As we already found out in the Cinergy T Stick Black test, the Terratec Home Cinema Software has the usual basic functions, like hard disk recording and time delayed viewing. We hope for additional features from the second tuner, which opens a few new possibilities.

Picture Terratec: T Stick Dual RC HD with supplies
Picture Terratec: T Stick Dual RC HD with supplies
Picture Terratec: Packaging
Picture Terratec: Packaging

Windows XP SP3 HP Mini 5101

Installation and initiation don't present a problem. After the usual automatic tuning, which takes about 4:30 min., you can start watching TV right away. If you choose the regional pre-selection, the tuning is reduced to a bit more than a minute. The presentation works smoothly and without picture errors for ca. 80% of the reception quality. Even the recording function can be used as desired. You can watch another channel while recording another simultaneously without interruptions. The recording runs along in the background. Handling is very easy and you forget that the computer is actually a netbook. For example, a Hauppauge Win TV Nova T Stick used for comparison couldn't render a smooth TV playback on the Mini 5101.

Windows 7 Professional 64 bit HP 6540b

There aren't any differences noticed in comparison to the netbook in regards to installation, TV utilization and recording function with this system. Naturally, everything is a bit faster and you can also manage various other tasks at the same time. The netbook is simply exhausted sooner or later. Subjectively, the reception is very good and a good picture is also displayed, even when the Nova T Stick presents artifacts.

Home Cinema Software control center
Home Cinema Software control center
Picture-in-picture function is first possible with an additional license
Picture-in-picture function is first possible with an additional license
OSD functions are missing, too
OSD functions are missing, too
Individual windows are easy to use
Individual windows are easy to use

Naming and Configuration Confusion

We couldn't find the picture-in-picture function (PiP), certain on-screen display features and the H.264 codec in both installations. We merely found an "extension" card in the box, with whose key one of six possible functions can be activated. However, according to the instructions, the entire software has to be reinstalled so that it can accept the key during the installation process. We found a license for the picture-in-picture function in the box. After a bit of research on the Terratec website it becomes clear that the Cinergy Stick, despite the HD in the name and HDTV and H.264 logo on the package, first receives the missing components after a Home Cinema upgrade for an additional 30 euro. At least it comes with the right for a lifetime of full updates. By the way, we determined the same retail pattern by a Terratec Cinergy S2 USB HD, which we however haven't tested.

Interestingly, there aren't any descriptions matching our box to be found on the homepage. Either "Dual" or "HD" is missing in the name. There was no reply to an inquiry concerning this at the support up to editorial deadline.

There are also various specifications about the power consumption. On the one hand, Terratec states 480 mA at 5 V on their homepage (T Stick Dual RC) and 320 mA on the box itself. The latter rate would rather be more suitable to a single tuner, such as the T Stick RC, whilst the first statement would be more realistic for a dual tuner.

Battery Life

In any case, we achieved a battery life of 193 minutes in running DVB-T utilization with full display brightness and a 55 Wh battery with the HP Mini 5101. That correlates to an estimated total power consumption of 17.1 watts. The balanced profile had to be selected because the processor clock rate wasn't sufficient for a smooth rendering anymore in energy saving mode.

Verdict

Despite the additional functions first being available after upgrades and a very misleading product packaging, the Cinergy T Stick Dual RC (HD) bids good software and a good DVB-T performance at a street price of almost 40 euro. The DVB-T can be used without difficulty even on slower netbooks, in opposition to some other competing products, and provides for a broad application field.

In Review: Terratec Cinergy DVB-T Stick Dual RC HD
In Review: Terratec Cinergy DVB-T Stick Dual RC HD
The DVB-T Stick is a bit broader than other sticks because of the second tuner…
The DVB-T Stick is a bit broader than other sticks because of the second tuner…
…and can therefore also sooner obstruct a neighboring port.
…and can therefore also sooner obstruct a neighboring port.
The reception is perfect and the software is also easy to use.
The reception is perfect and the software is also easy to use.
The white case is quite insensitive and doesn't disclose fingerprints & co. for a long time.
The white case is quite insensitive and doesn't disclose fingerprints & co. for a long time.

Shortcut

What we like

The good Terratec Home Cinema software that is convincing with its intuitive menu navigation and easy handling in practical use, after a bit of getting used to and the second tuner that makes watching one channel and recording another at the same time possible.

What we miss

A considerably clearer product description that doesn't make promises, which are only kept to a part in the package.

What surprises us

That the more expensive test model's scope of delivery doesn't include a USB extension, in opposition to the T Stick Black.

The competitors

If you only need a tuner for watching TV, you are well equipped with the T Stick Black for half the price. Otherwise, other manufacturers offer similar products, but they aren't always suitable for weaker netbooks.

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Terratec Cinergy T Stick Dual RC HD
Author: Tobias Winkler, 2010-08-23 (Update: 2012-05-26)