ADS Technologies Instant TV +FM PCI

ADS Technologies Instant TV +FM PCI
  • Expert Rating

    2.50 / 5

Pros

  • User-friendly breakout box, customisable preview grid, many recording modes

Cons

  • Instant TV software is obtrusive, on-screen video degrades during timeshifting, no integrating with EPG services, no video editing or DVD burning software

Bottom Line

This low-priced TV tuner card has some handy features, but overall it's awkward to use.

Would you buy this?

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The most user-friendly feature of the ADS Tech Instant TV +FM PCI is probably its breakout box, which has composite and S-Video inputs. Thanks to the box, you don't have to access the back of your PC every time you want to connect an analog camcorder or other device.

The supplied Instant TV software, on the other hand, is quite clunky. Designed to look like a remote control, the control panel takes up a large part of a 1024 x 768 resolution screen. Unlike many other TV tuner control panels, this one won't let you hide it except by dragging it off screen--an inelegant solution.

The tuner's best features aren't obvious, For instance, you can control the size of the customisable preview grid (which shows what's currently playing on several channels), and you can determine which channels will be displayed. Recording options include seven quality levels, recording time limits, and a recording volume setting. Unfortunately, when we recorded timeshifted video at high-quality encoding settings, the on-screen video image degraded markedly. Afterward, however, the recorded MPEG-2 files played smoothly.

As its name suggests, the Instant TV +FM PCI card includes an FM radio tuner, and an RCA connection accommodates the included antenna, but there's no coaxial input.

The package's documentation covers little more than the setup procedure, with a cursory nod also to the external remote control, which contains some buttons whose purpose remains unclear. The tuner lacks video editing and DVD burning software.

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