Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
ASUS My Cinema-P7131Dual
- Analog input port
- Snowy analogue signal
Its TV reception isn’t the best, but it does have a useful analog input port and the PowerCinema software media centre adds functionality.
Price$ 99.00 (AUD)
While ASUS is well-renowned for its top quality motherboards and graphics cards, it still has a lot of work to do until it can be considered an elite TV tuner card brand. Its new My Cinema-P7131Dual card doesn't stack up well against other cards we have reviewed in the Test Centre.
It's a hybrid tuner card that can pick up analog or digital TV signals, FM radio (it ships with an FM antenna), and it also has a video in port which facilitates S-Video and composite connections.
During testing we found this card's performance to be weak. Analog reception was much snowier and wavier than we are used to seeing with our rooftop antenna. Multiple digital TV scans failed to pick up Channel Nine in Sydney. It managed to pick up all the other digital stations in our area and its picture quality and performance while watching standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) programs were clear, vibrant and smooth. The card's ability to record from composite and S-Video sources were also impressive. Our test recordings from a VCR did not suffer from stuttering or audio synchronisation problems.
The card ships with CyberLink's PowerCinema, which has a clean interface and is easy to navigate using the supplied infrared remote. You can access video files, music, listen to the radio or even create DVDs with this software, as well as watch and record TV. It has an always-on time-shifting function, which worked well during testing, as did the recording scheduler. PowerCinema can not record an entire transport stream, however.
On our AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ test machine, CPU usage for SD and HD channels was about 10 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively.
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