You want to watch the Super Bowl this weekend in high definition.

But you don't feel like rushing out and spending thousands on a flat-screen TV.

What if I told you that you can turn your desktop or laptop TV into an HDTV?

All you need is a Pinnacle PCTV device. It ranges in price from $80 to $130 depending on features.

I've been testing the PCTV HD Pro Stick ($100) on several laptop computers. The Pro Stick contains a standard analog TV card as well as an HDTV video and audio card built inside a small device that plugs into a USB 2.0 port.

HDTV for Free

It allows you to watch high-quality, over-the-air digital, high-definition and standard-definition TV shows. Let me make this clear -- these are free, high-definition television stations that are broadcasting in your area. This means you are dependent on the strength of your broadcast signal.

Beginning Feb. 18, 2009, local TV stations will stop broadcasting on their old analog (NTSC) frequencies (Channels 2-83). After that date, you will need one of three things: a TV that receives the new, all-digital signals (ATSC); a cable/satellite/FiOS subscription; or a way to receive the digital stations on your old TV or even your computer.

That's where the PCTV comes in.

The PCTV package comes with all the hardware and software you need. Install the programs on your computer, plug in the USB device and attach the supplied "mag-mount" antenna (or roof-mounted antenna, cable, etc.) and you're all set.

The Pro Stick worked flawlessly on every computer I tried. The HTDV picture looked great on everything from small, 12-inch screens to larger 20-inch monitors.

From my Manhattan test lab, the Pro Stick was able to find and receive more than 20 over-the-air HDTV stations. When the programs were broadcast in 16-by-9 format you get to watch them that way. Regular programming is received in 4-by-3. And if the program was shot in high definition -- you get to see it just that way.

Quality of the received signal is pretty amazing once you find the perfect spot for the antenna. Tuning an over-the-air digital TV signal is easy. There's no snow, ghosts, shadows or static. With a digital station, you either get perfect picture and stereo sound or nothing at all. And, unlike cable or satellite, the video is uncompressed.

It looks pretty great. (Just remember to turn off your computer's screen saver.)

The supplied Pinnacle MediaCenter software does more than control the tuner -- it turns your laptop into personal digital video recorder. You can schedule recordings with the PCTV's electronic program guide, record your favorite shows directly to DVD, or save recorded shows in your favorite video file format for your iPod, PSP or other portable device.

Pinnacle also provides you with an S-video adapter cable to attach any analog video device (like a VCR, DVD or camcorder) to the HD Pro Stick allowing you to record and edit those videos on your computer.

The PCTV HD Pro Stick works with Windows XP and Vista computers. There is also PCTV Ultimate Stick with even more features ($130) and Pinnacle's TV for Mac HD (also $130).

If you want to make sure you can watch and record Sunday's Super Bowl in HD -- in any room of your house -- get a PCTV stick for your laptop and enjoy!

With 34 years experience as a journalist -- the last 27 with NBC -- Gary Krakow has seen all the best and worst technology that's come along. Gary joined MSNBC.com before it actually went online in July 1996. He produced and anchored the first live Webcast of a presidential election in November 1996. With a background as a gadget freak, audiophile and ham radio operator, Krakow started writing reviews for both Audio and Stereophile Magazines in the 80s. Once at MSNBC.com, Krakow started writing a column to help feed his personal passion for playing with gadgets of all types, shapes and sizes. Within a short time, that column became a major force in many electronics industries -- audio, video, photography, GPS and cell phones. Readership soared, and manufacturers told him they had actual proof that a positive review in his column sold thousands of their products. Many electronics manufacturers have used quotes from his reviews in their sales literature as well as on their Web sites. There have also been a few awards too, including Emmys in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

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