DViCO FusionHDTV DVB-T Dual Digital

DViCO's FusionHDTV DVB-T Dual Digital is the first PCI adapter we have seen with two digital TV tuners. You can record one program while you watch another, or even record two programs at once.

Dual-tuner display is initiated by the picture-in-picture (PIP) feature, which displays the second channel in a muted screen in the corner of the main screen. Toggling between the tuners is cumbersome, however, and toggling while one tuner is recording is not possible. You need to decide which channel you want to record and which one you want to watch, before you start recording.

While recording a second channel, the PIP window has to be enabled (visible), otherwise the recording ends. This can be frustrating if you don't want the background recording to distract you from the main program you are watching.

To use this card your PC must have one free PCI slot and one free USB 2.0 port. The USB port is needed for the second tuner, which does not run off the PCI bus. Only one antenna connection is needed though.

Image quality was excellent. Standard-definition (SD) and High-Definition (HD) pictures were clear and not overly saturated, and CPU usage was not excessive with DirectX Video Acceleration (DxVA) enabled.

We ran the card on an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ system with 1GB of RAM and a Leadtek GeForce 5900 Ultra graphics adapter. Without PIP enabled, a single SD channel consumed around 10 per cent of the CPU, and an HD channel between 10-20 per cent. With PIP enabled, CPU usage with two SD channels was 15-30 per cent, and with two HD channels it was 40-50 per cent, while one SD and one HD channel consumed 35-45 per cent.

Both tuners found all the available terrestrial channels in the Sydney area.

The card ships with FusionHDTV software, which features a neat episode guide. It allows you to simply click on a program name to either watch it or record it. Unfortunately, the EPG will only display "now" and "next" data by default, which is the most information Australian broadcasters currently provide.

FusionHDTV's main panel allows quick access to PIP, timeshifting, input source (the card also has an S-Video port for analog capture) and the EPG. However, the recording scheduler needs to be enabled from the right-click menu.

Physically, the DVB-T Dual Digital is a half-height PCI card with a full-size mounting bracket. Conveniently, it does ship with a half-size mounting bracket, which can be attached if you need to fit the card into a slimline case.

VERDICT: DViCO has provided an efficient internal dual-tuner solution, which will only take up one PCI slot, one USB port and which only requires one antenna input. We loved the fact that we could record or watch two programs simultaneously, but we do wish there was an easier way to toggle between tuners, and we also wish we could un-mute the second tuner while watching the main tuner. Nevertheless, we recommend this product highly if you're after a neat dual-tuner solution.

SPECIFICATIONS: High-definition, Standard-Definition, dual DVB-T tuners; PCI, USB 2.0 analog input; PIP; time-shifting; recording scheduler; remote control; half-size mounting-bracket; Media Center compatible.

URL: www.lakopacific.com.au

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