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Author: dadx2mj
Manufacturer: Generic
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Page: 3 of 4 [ 1 2 3 4 ] USB 2.0 TV Tuner/Video Capture Box
November 30, 2006


Setting up the hardware for the USB 2.0 TV Tuner/Video Capture Box could not be easier. Simply plug the USB cable into any open USB port on the computer and connect the coaxial cable from your cable TV feed to the back of the box. You will also need an audio cable to run from the "line out" port of the TV box to the sound card of the computer. One of my biggest complaints regarding is that this cable was not included. In fact, other than the USB cable that is attached to the USB TV tuner, no cables are included. So to get sound or use any of the other ports you need to supply your own cables.

After the TV Box is connected, you will need to use the included CD to install drivers for the USB TV tuner and remote, along with the TV software. The TV software is InterVideo Win DVR3. Anyone familiar with WinDVD software will feel right at home with this TV tuner software, as the interface is almost identical. Installation of the drivers and WinDVR3 was a simple matter of a few mouse clicks with no issues.

Click Image For Larger View


Hardware performance of the USB 2.0 TV Tuner/Video Capture Box was marginal compared to other PCI tuners I have used. With a Winfast TV2000 XP tuner installed in the same system, the Winfast card puts a 33%-35% load on the A64 3000+ processor while the USB TV Tuner puts a 73%-75% load on the same processor. Surfing the web while watching TV on either card will make the TV go in slow motion while jumping from one website to another, but much more dramatically on the USB TV tuner than with the Winfast TV2000 XP.

I also had some issues with sound from the USB TV Tuner, as it just was not loud enough. This issue was present both using the on board sound of the Biostar VIA K8M800 motherboard and with a generic Cmedia 7 channel sound card installed in the system. The volume had to be run at the maximum setting to be heard.

The WinDVR3 software is simple to use and performs adequately. Watching TV, recording TV, or taking still captures with the software is very easy and requires only a simple mouse click for most tasks. However. there were a few annoyances with the software. The first one was setting the screen size. You can grab and drag a corner of the screen to adjust the size, but the smallest size you can drag it too is just not small enough for my liking. The other annoyance was I could find no way to hide or minimize the control panel and keep the viewing screen. I like to be able to have a very small TV screen on the monitor while I surf websites. Between the TV screen not being able to adjust small enough and not being able to hide the control panel, the WinDVR3 software took up too much of the screen to be able to watch TV and multi-task at the same time. With other TV software, such as Winfast or Pinnacle PCTV, it was easy to hide the control panel and the screen would go much smaller, making multi-tasking while watching TV an easier option.

Still capture pictures are saved at 640x480 in jpeg format and of fairly good quality.

Click Image For Larger View

As listed in the specifications, video capture can be in your choice of MPEG1, 2, or 4, and was of good quality even when saved in MPEG 1, the lowest quality setting.

Using the remote was straight forward and worked from anywhere in the room. The buttons were self explanatory and all worked without any issues.

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