SanDisk Corp., well known for its wide variety of flash memory devices, has introduced an elegant little device lets you transfer any video on your computer and play it on a TV.
But unlike two competing products, AppleTV and Pinncale's PCTV HD Ultimate Stick, TakeTV does its thing in a completely different way.
At first glance, the TakeTV looks much like a flash memory stick. But sliding it open separates the TakeTV with the top part revealing its USB plug. This is the part that you insert into your computer. Then you can use the included fanfare software or just drag and drop any video file to be copied into the TakeTV's flash memory hard drive.
The other, bottom part of the TakeTV is a tiny, wireless remote control that you use to navigate the on-screen TakeTV display you will see on the television set. The last physical component of the TakeTV is the cradle, which, along with its AC adaptor, has several integrated connector cables allowing it to connect to most any modern television set that has inputs for S-Video or composite video.
After you have offloaded the computer's video files into the TakeTV memory stick, you remove the stick from your computer's USB port and insert it into the cradle that is attached to your TV set. You are then presented with a series of on-screen TV menus that let you choose from a variety of formats and viewing options. From there, all you have to do is select the video you want to watch, sit back and enjoy the show.
The TakeTV supports several video formats, including MPEG-4, DivX and xVid, and supports 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios. It is fully compatible with Windows XP and Vista, Macintosh OSX and Linux, and supports USB 2.0.
Two TakeTV models are available. The 4-gigabyte version lets you record up to five hours of video and sells for $99.99. The 8-gigabyte model lets you record up to 10 hours of video and goes for $149.99.
The TakeTV is also compatible with SanDisk's fanfare.com Web site that lets you download your favorite TV shows directly into the TakeTV. Currently in beta, the fanfare Web site's library of content is continuing to grow and offers TV shows from CBS and Showtime. Much of it is free now, but the crossed-out charges lead one to expect that fanfare will eventually begin charging for its content.
You can buy the TakeTV at the SanDisk and the fanfare Web sites.
Craig Crossman hosts the radio talk show "Computer America" on the Business TalkRadio Network and the Lifestyle TalkRadio Network weekdays from 10 p.m. to midnight.