TV tuners and capture cards are becoming increasingly popular as people realize just how easy it is to build their own PVR (personal video recorder), or to simply watch TV on their PC. Numerous companies offer at least one TV tuner / capture card in their product line up, generally as a complimentary offering to a line of graphics cards. People familiar with those brands of graphics cards may be willing to buy the TV tuner card offered based on the reputation of the graphics card, whether the TV tuner card being offer is really of the same quality or not.
AVerMedia has a different approach to this market. They have TV tuner cards to offer, but these products are the focus of their business. They offer a complete line of TV tuner cards capable of fitting just about any PC. With high definition and standard definition tuners, single and dual tuner cards, and interfaces including USB, Cardbus, PCI, and PCI Express their numerous products really do have the TV tuner market well covered.
Although they do have products other than TV tuners, the entire focus of the company is related to similar technology. You have to think that a company that only does one thing must do it pretty well, and that their solutions might be better suited to the task at hand than a similar product from a company which focuses on something else, but happens to have TV tuners, too.
For a bit more background on AVerMedia and their business, the following was taken from their website:
"Since 1990, AVerMedia Technologies has been on the forefront of leading digital multimedia technology due to a simple ideology: to turn advanced technology into innovative and high-value commercial products to corporate, government, educational and home consumers worldwide. Focusing on digital video technology, AVerMedia has expanded its product development to include the latest in TV Tuners, Video Capture, Document Camera, PC-to-TV converters, and Digital Video Surveillance products. AVerMedia's comprehensive and versatile product lines are designed to provide complete, yet easy-to-use solutions for beginning users to advanced digital and multimedia experts."
This review is going to take a look at two of the more portable offerings in AVerMedia's current lineup by looking at the two TV tuners shown above. The black unit is the AVerTV Cardbus, which is intended for use on a notebook computer via a cardbus (PCMCIA) connection. The silver unit is the UltraTV USB 300, which is an external device which connects to a PC via a high speed USB 2.0 connection. We'll take a look at the two tuners separately, compare the similarities and differences between them, and then provide an overall impression of the cards as compared to other tuners I have used since I bought my first one back in 1996.
The promotional image above doesn't really give a sense of scale on these two TV tuner cards, so the image below shows exactly how small they are. As compared to a US twenty dollar bill, you can see that neither is particularly large.
The AVerTV Carbus tuner is actually narrower and shorter than the bill, and considering the bulk of the unit will disappear into your notebook computer's PCMCIA slot, it will have quite a compact foot print while in use. The UltraTV USB 300 is wider than the bill, but only about half as long, making it easy to find a home for it even on the busiest of desktops (or home theater centers). Both tuners have attractive outer appearances, but we'll look at more physical features and performance attributes as we dig deeper into the review.