Plextor PX-HDTV500U Mini Digital HDTV Receiver Review

Plextor PX-HDTV500U Mini Digital HDTV Receiver Review

by Chris Carnabatu

Plextor PX-HDTV500U Mini Digital HDTV ReceiverReview

For over 15 years, consumers and professionals alike have been looking to Plextor LLC for solutions in the complex field of digital media storage and capabilities. To add to their line of impressive products, Plextor recently introduced the PX-HDTV500U Mini Digital HDTV Receiver for those of us facing limited resources with viewing high definition television while traveling. This HDTV digital mini receiver is an excellent option not only for road warriors, but for college students as well namely because of the unlimited range of possibilities it carries. Basically, all one needs to have in order to watch free over-the-air HDTV programming is a standard computer and the Plextor HDTV package.

Design and Functionality

To begin my review, I will start out with what components are included in the retail package. The Plextor HDTV mini digital receiver bundle includes the following: The antenna with a suction cup stand, the USB attachment that connects the cable to the computer, a small metal insert that goes in one end of the USB attachment to allow the cable to be connected to the USB component, a fully functional remote control with included AAA batteries, a small USB extension, and the driver and application CD with installation guide. Overall, the system itself appears to be designed with simplicity in mind; a concept greatly appreciated by all users.

Plextor’s system size relative to a laptop. (view large image)

Initial Set Up and Assessment

The initial set up of the system itself was relatively simple, only taking me a few minutes to connect the cable from the antenna to the USB insert. I was impressed with the ingenuity of the suction cup located at the bottom of the stand. Working on all non-porous surfaces, this suction cup activates when the stand itself is bent from a 90 degree angle to a 180 degree angle (as shown in the picture above.) Installation of the software was extremely simple, just as any well written installation should be.

After restarting my computer, I was able to have the Plextor HDTV system up and running with spectacular results. The software written for the mini digital HDTV is called the “ArtecMedia Digital TV Player” and includes some eye catching features such as the ability to view a  specific channel’s program guide for a varied time depending on the channel itself anywhere up to 14 days. Another module that works hand in hand with the scheduling component is the recording feature which allows users to schedule the recording of a certain show or program in a specific channel’s guide, whether that show is starting in five minutes or five days.

Screenshot of the initial display of the ArtecMedia Digital TV Player. (view large image)

The picture above is the first thing that users see after the application loads. In the row of icons above, you will notice that the second icon, entitled “scan”, allows the antenna to scan for different channels of varying strengths and, depending on a user’s preference, can either be added to the list of programs available in the right hand corner or replace the list altogether. Another nice feature to point out is that the channels found and added to a user’s list will specify its frequency, whether it be “HD” for high definition, “SD for” standard definition, or “DT” for digital transmission.

Other features represented by the icons in the top row include a snapshot feature which allows users to take a picture of the scene at hand, the language selection feature, a full screen option, and the closed captioning option. At the bottom left hand corner, readers will notice two horizontal bars, one yellow and the other red. These bars basically indicate the strength of the reception in the current area. The more color in the bar a user sees, the better the quality when viewing various channels.

Screenshot of the initial display of the ArtecMedia Digital TV Player. (view large image)

Clicking on a program and then on the button in the left hand pane entitled “Add to schedule” will open a small window allowing users to tweak any extra options further while giving users a preview of the show currently playing in the pane above the list of schedules.

Close up shot of the Antenna. (view large image)

I was extremely surprised and even impressed at the quality of the picture I was receiving form the antenna while watching a program in high definition. The material of the antenna itself seems to be some type of flexible composite allowing for excellent reception. One handy feature that I hadn’t known prior to using this device concerns high definition TV. With high definition channels, a user will either see a channel or not depending on the amount of reception, as opposed to seeing a grainy picture as is true with standard definition antennas and systems. To view which channels are available in an area of interest, the following website will provide a list of channels viewable depending on reception and area:

The USB component used to connect the antenna to any computer. (view large image)

The USB receiver shown above is the intermediary between the user’s antenna and computer. A green light, located in the top left hand corner of the body in relation to Plextor’s logo, lights up when the unit is in use by the  Digital TV Player. I noticed that after a long time of usage, the actual USB unit becomes very hot to the touch. The picture below shows Plextor’s solution which includes adding two small ventilation grilles to each side thus allowing the generated heat to escape or vent out.

Ventilation grille on the side of the USB unit. (view large image)

Back of the USB unit where the metal connector is inserted to connect the cable to the unit. (view large image)

This metal piece connects the cable to the USB receiver. (view large image)

Remote used with Plextor’s HDTV Receiver. (view large image)

The remote included in the Plextor package is, as you can see from the picture above, a full fledged remote designed with some extra features specifically for the Media Center edition of Windows; however, the basic functionality, including the changing of channels, increasing or decreasing of the volume, etc., works beautifully with Windows XP and Vista and adds a bit of realism to the whole concept of operating a TV on one’s computer.


Plextor’s PX-HDTV500U Mini Digital HDTV Receiver is an excellent device for any road warrior, traveler, or student looking for a solution in the field of portable televisions. The simplicity and ease of use will most definitely have users falling in love with the idea of watching television on one’s computer. One aspect of using Plextor’s HDTV receiver that I would like to mention is using the unit in times of emergencies with portable laptops. After having been through a blackout lasting two days, having the capability of watching the news allowed me to learn important information regarding the situation of the blackout and future weather forecasts.

Such information be vital in crucial emergencies where portable televisions lack in providing a good reception.  This also serves as a great solution for college students who find that the space provided in dorms leave no room for an extra television to be placed. The compact design of the overall unit fits to serve any practical situation in any amount of space. Plextor has yet again met a need with impressive results that both work as described and offer a wide range of options to be used depending on any user’s situation.

Pricing and Availability

The PX-HDTV500U Mini Digital HDTV Receiver is available now on Plextor’s websitefor $99, so if you are in the market for HDTV on the go this is just what you need.





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