LifeView Fly TV-Box, X-Media Dreambox TV Tuner boxes

Both these tuner boxes are designed to be con­nected to a CRT or LCD monitor to watch TV with any signal, without having to power on your PC. Alternatively, you can hook up just about any external device including DVD players, VCRs, games consoles, and digital video cameras. We tested the tuner boxes for ease of connectivity, setup and clarity of the images.

The LifeView is a slimline unit with a red and gold metallic finish and a remote control. The control buttons are located in the red section at the front of the box and include system on, AV mode, channel up/down and volume up/down. The infrared receiver for the remote is also located near the control buttons. At the back of the tuner box are the connections for DC power, TV ANT, FM RCA female, AV-in, S-Video-in, VGA-out, VGA-in for the supplied loop back adapter, audio-out, and an on/off switch. The LifeView supports NTSC, PAL, and SECAM video standards, as well as PIP (Picture-In-Picture) mode for TV, composite and S-Video.

The LifeView can be a bit tricky to set up. Consulting the manual only gave us more confusion: it isn’t very comprehensive and could have been more useful. There is no troubleshooting section and the setup instructions are virtually non-existent.

The clarity of the image was dis­appointing, even though the LifeView claims it has motion detection de-interlacing technology. Testing on both types of monitors with both products resulted in a flickering and sometimes spotty image.

Similar in functionality, the X-Media Dreambox is a much bigger unit than the LifeView. At the rear of the box are the connections for DC power, VGA-in, VGA-out, S-Video, one composite video input, TV ANT/Cable, and an audio input and output. The audio input can be used to connect directly to your PC via your sound card and the output can be used to connect to a set of speakers. The control buttons positioned on the front panel include system on, video mode, volume up/down and channel up/down. The infrared receiver and one composite video input are also found on the front panel. The supplied remote is fully-featured and will keep most remote-savvy people happy.

The Dreambox was extremely easy to set up: simply plug in the applicable cables and you’re done. When the tuner was arranged for TV, there was no need to configure the channels manually — they were instantly there for viewing.

Taking into account the exceptional viewing quality and the ease of use, we concluded that the X-Media Dreambox’s full range of features makes up for it being a bit more expensive compared to products with similar features and quality.

In brief: LifeView Fly TV-Box
The LifeView is a good idea but lacks follow-through in quality and features.
Price: $259
Phone: (02) 9748 7725

X-Media Dreambox
The Dreambox is a solidly built unit with attractive features.
Price: $342
Phone: (03) 9873 3999

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