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This Hauppauge WinnTV Nova-T-500 is a very competant tuner and for the price tag it comes in at it should be, I had my PC custom built and when it came to selecting a TV tuner this one stood head and shoulders above the rest as it was twice the price of everything else, or so I thought.
Don't get me wrong this tuner does everything a digital TV tuner should do and does it well. Pictue is crisp and sharp, channel scan picks up everything there is to get and changing channels is done with ease, instantly with no delay or picture break up. Hauppauge's own bundled Media Suite is fine but Windows Media Centre is far better and this card works just fine with Media Centre, it certainly does on my Windows 7 equipped PC.
This comes with a remote conrtol but it's not all that great, you have to plug in a cable into the back of the card and you get a couple of sticky backed velcro pads to locate a receiving 'eye' which you have to aim the remote at to use any of it's functions.
Recording programmes works well and this cards big selling point and the reason for it's increased price tag is it's twin tuner capability. This card will allow you to watch one programme whilst at the same time record another.
Unfortunatley this is also the tuners biggest negative, why is this a negative? Because it require 2x inputs, if like me you have a freeview aerial you have to split the cable with a 'Y' connector and turn one cable into two which then halves the signal strength so instead of one aerial cable at 100% efficiency I now have 2 cables both at 50% of what I had previously. You might get away with this in a strong signal strength area but I don't live in such an area and when I tried to utilise the twin tuners I had to give up and go back to one because the picture would break up due to the weakened signal.
Not so long ago I was pulling the PC out of it's location in my workstation to give it a dust and by accident I knocked the ariel socket clean off it, this is no reflection on the product, it's well enough put together, this was purely carelessness on my part that caused this. Missing my TV I was a little short of cash and the £75 for a replacement Nova-T-500 Twin Tuner simply was not there.
Instead I bought a PEAK Freeview DVB-T PCI 221544AGPK Win 7 TV Dual Tuner which cost £30, I plugged this in and expected a real drop in my TV viewing quality and pleasure but in all honesty it never came, this tuner did everything every bit as well as the Hauppauge one did but at less than half the price and the most pleasing thing of all was this was also a twin tuner but this one only needed one aerial input.
After a poor experience in the past with Hauppauge TV cards and Windows I nearly didn't buy this TV card, am so glad I did however.
To tell you a litle about the card: It's a dual dvb-t tuner for your PC, what does that mean I hear you ask, well basically it's a device that will allow you to watch and record freview programmes simultaneously and listen to digital radio stations on your home pc or media centre. The card comes bundled with the Win-TV software which has a 7-day EPG and Win-TV scheduler which will allow you to record two digital channels at the same time using High (or Low) MPEG encoding.
The thing which I think is must now is the compatibility with Windows Media Center and I am pleased to say that this is supported by Windows Media Center. It comes with remote and drivers cd (although the drivers were automatically picked up by windows when I installed the card).
Installation of the card is easy enough as the card simply inserted into a free PCI slot. The only thing I would say is that the card is low-profile but it does not come with a low profile backplate, just the standard atx midi tower full height backplate.
Overall I'd say the picture quality is excellent and the picture never breaks up for me (as others have done in the past). Coupled with a decent graphics card I runs pretty smoothly and there is no jerking of the image. 4 out 5 as the software could be better.
The card cost me £68 at the time of buying, you can now get them for about £60 on the likes of ebuyer.com
Minimum processor 1.7 GHz Intel® or equivalent.
Microsoft Windows Vista (32 & 64bit) or XP (32bit only) with Service Pack 2.
Graphics with 64 MB of memory (minimum).
Sound card or on board sound.
A free PCI slot.
CD-ROM drive (for Software installation).