KWorld PlusTV DVBT DualView 399U
Good dual tuner, but poor software.
- Dual digital TV tuner, tunes in to standard- and high-definition channels, USB 2.0-based
- HyperMedia software interface is poor
This is an external, USB 2.0-based dual digital TV tuner that performs well. Unfortunately, its software interface is very poor; use Windows Media Centre to get the most out of this device.
Price$ 154.95 (AUD)
It's easy to turn your PC or notebook into a TV with a USB-based digital TV tuner device, and KWorld's is special in that it is a dual-tuner device. It's compact and it doesn't get warm after prolonged periods of use. But it's severely let down by its bundled software.
Called HyperMedia, KWorld's software interface lacks basic features, is not intuitive, has an unattractive interface, and isn't altogether stable. It can be used either in windowed mode, or with a full, media centre–esque interface, and both modes are poorly implemented. When using the full screen, neither mode has an easily accessible control panel; neither mode has a 'favourites' channel list; neither mode allows you to change recording settings. These are major oversights and mean that you're better off not installing it and using your own software instead.
Luckily, the device does have a BDA driver available, so it can be used with Windows Media Centre; this is preferable if you have a copy of it in Vista or Windows XP. The device's actual performance was not bad. It picked up all of the stations in our area, and it played them back smoothly on our Intel Core 2 Duo E6700–based PC. High-definition channels consumed up to 24 per cent of the CPU, while standard-definition channels consumed up to 11 per cent. Channel changes in HyperMedia were slow — it took five seconds to switch — and channels can only be changed by right-clicking and selecting the 'previous' and 'next' menu items.
We were able to watch two channels simultaneously using HyperMedia, although the software interface doesn't really make this easy. In windowed mode, it's impossible to invoke the second tuner; it can only be done in full mode by pressing the 'Twin TV' option. To then be able to switch between the two tuners, you have to put HyperMedia into windowed mode. This lets you resize the windows, change channels and manipulate the volume. When watching or recording two channels, two instances of HyperMedia will run simultaneously.
HyperMedia has time-shifting, a built-in scheduler and electronic program guide (EPG). Its time-shifting feature stuttered when it was enabled, and it was also hard to navigate as there is no scrubber available, only forward and rewind buttons. The scheduler can only be accessed in the full mode, not in windowed mode, and it's not as easy to enter a channel, time and date as it should be. The EPG can be used to add programs to the recording scheduler, simply by selecting the program you want, and this works in full mode and in windowed mode. However, the EPG does not show information from all channels together. It will only show the program guide for the channel you are currently watching, which is inconvenient.
There are many other little things wrong with the software interface, but if you plan to use the USB tuner with Windows Media Centre, none of the problems we've mentioned will be a concern. We love the fact that only one antenna input is required for both tuners, and also that the unit doesn't get hot after prolonged periods of use. Consider this unit if you want an easy to install dual digital TV tuner for your PC or laptop. There is also a driver available that allows it to work on an Eee PC.
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