The hybrid style TV tuner allows you to watch analog as well as digital TV reception. While you cannot watch the two receptions simultaneously, you can easily switch between the analog and digital channels using your Favourites channel list.
In our tests, we found the DViCO's analog reception to be poor when compared to an existing analog television and VCR setup -- it displayed plenty of visible snow on all channels. Its digital reception, however, was outstanding. It displayed standard definition (SD) as well as high definition (HD) channels with superb clarity and vibrant colour.
The digital tuner picked up all of the available station signals in our test area and retuned good signal strength for each of these, although it did take us two scans before the ABC signal could be picked up.
The vendor's own software decoder, FusionHDTV, ships with the card. We have tested it previously and it has proved to be a good solution. It allows for time-shifting, manual and scheduled recording and it even has a cool feature that allows you to set the current TV channel you are watching as your wallpaper.
We experienced no problems when recording with this card. There were no synchronisation issues between the video and the audio. The manual record function, which requires a recording length to be selected, allows you to quickly extend the recording length if your program is going to finish over time.
We do wish that the device would allow for a pause in recording, which would be useful to edit out commercials on-the-fly while watching a program. FusionHDTV can record either the single channel you are watching in MPEG2 format, such as TEN Digital 1, or it can record the entire data stream that the channel is broadcasting, such as TEN Digital 1 and TEN Digital 2 along with TEN HD, in TS format (transport stream).
TS format is handy for when you want to use the FusionCONVERTER, which allows you to convert your recordings to other video formats. You can convert a program so that you can prepare a DVD, or you can use the supplied DivX and XviD encoders to convert your recordings for the ability to play them on a set-top, DivX-capable DVD player.
The time it takes to convert a program to DivX or XviD will depend solely on the power of your CPU. Generally, it can take a couple of hours for a one hour program to be converted. We found the XviD encoder to be superior to the DivX encoder when we tested it with a recording of an HD program, with the XviD file taking up less space on the hard drive in addition to providing a sharper image and taking less time to convert.
The card comes with a remote control and a USB infrared device, which facilitates the connection between the card and the remote control. Windows Media Centre Edition users can also use this card, as it comes with a BDA (Broadcast Driver Architecture) driver and for those of you who want to capture video from an analog source, such as a VCR, the card there is an S-Video port.
Verdict: If you live in an area where digital reception is not strong, then this card is worth considering, as you can return to analog reception if the digital signal becomes unwatchable. The analog tuner is useful if you want to watch stations that are broadcast in analog form only, such as community channels. DViCO FusionHDTV DVB-T Hybrid Price: $250 vDistributor: Lako Pacific Phone: 1800 657 601 URL: www.lakopacific.com.au Specifications: SD and HD digital tuner; analog tuner; PCI card; S-Video port; time-shifting; recording scheduler; remote control.