KWorld PlusTV DVBT USB Stick (380U)

A USB TV tuner.

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KWorld PlusTV DVBT USB Stick (380U)
  • KWorld PlusTV DVBT USB Stick (380U)
  • KWorld PlusTV DVBT USB Stick (380U)
  • KWorld PlusTV DVBT USB Stick (380U)

Pros

  • Convenient to install, decodes standard- and high-definition digital channels

Cons

  • Its interface software is poor, the USB cover prevents the stick from making a solid connection with a USB port

Bottom Line

It's an inexpensive single digital TV tuner, but its software is poor and its build quality could be better.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 5 stores)

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Unlike KWorld's PlusTV DVBT DualView 399U, which is a dual digital TV tuner, the 380U is only a single tuner. It has a USB 2.0 interface on one end and an antenna port on the other end, but it's not easy to install and its software interface, like the 399U's, is very poor.

It's the hardware that's initially disappointing when you pull this device out of the box. A plastic cover extends over the USB end of the device; it retracts to expose the USB end, but it does not retract far enough. It leaves the stick with a rounded edge, so it makes a poor connection with your computer's USB port. It was very wobbly while plugged in. When we used heavy antenna leads we had to always jiggle the stick back in to place. Removing the stick's plastic cover allows it to be inserted a further 1.5mm into the USB slot and gives it much more stable connection.

The software, which is called HyperMedia, is the same interface that is used on the 399U, which means this package also suffers from the same problems as that one. It lacks basic features, is not intuitive, has an unattractive interface, and isn't completely stable. It can be used either in windowed mode, or in a full, media centre–esque interface. Both modes are poorly implemented. Neither mode has an easily accessible control panel when using the full screen; neither mode has an available 'favourites' channel list; neither mode allows you to change recording settings. These are major oversights — you're better off not installing HyperMedia and using different software.

Like the 399U, this stick also comes with a BDA driver, which you can use with Windows Media Centre; we recommend that you do. The stick did find all digital channels in our initial scan, and it decoded standard- and high-definition signals without any problems. HyperMedia's EPG and schedule options were not exactly easy to use when it came to recording. The scheduler can only be accessed in the full mode, not in windowed mode, and it's not as easy to enter a channel, time and date as it should be. The EPG can be used to add programs to the recording scheduler, simply by selecting the program you want, and this works in full mode and in windowed mode. However, the EPG does not show information from all channels together. It will only show the program guide for the channel you are currently watching, which is inconvenient.

Time-shifting can be invoked at the press of a button, but it is hard to navigate as there is no scrubber. You have to go back and forth using the rewind and forward buttons, which is awkward. In addition, time-shifting suffered from stuttering.

There are many other problems the software interface. However, if you plan to use the USB tuner with Windows Media Centre, none of the problems we've mentioned will be a concern.

We wish the unit didn't have the unnecessary cover installed by default, as it means the unit can't make a solid connection with a USB port. However, with a price of $84.95, it's an inexpensive way to add a digital TV tuner to a PC or laptop, but be prepared to suffer if you don't use third-party TV tuner software or Windows Media Centre. Software is also available for the Windows XP-based Eee PC.

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