Perhaps manufacturers are running out of features to list on their boxes. With TV cards very much an everyday component to many PC users, AVerMedia’s latest notebook TV tuner is left to champion factors that, to be blunt, you’d expect anyway.
‘Plug and play’, for instance, is coming up to its tenth year of life, and it’s at the point where you’d want a box only to mention it if it wasn’t plug and play. Then there’s ‘light & thin’. Fair enough, but is it unfair to assume that a laptop TV tuner would be? And then ‘less cable management’ – or that there are connections for S-video, A/V in and TV/FM (your antenna plugs into a small extension cable rather than connecting directly to the AVerTV card).
Off with the miserable old cynic hat now, though, for fortunately the product that AVerMedia has trouble being enthusiastic about is actually a smart, effective piece of kit. It’s a breeze to set up and get going, slotting into a Cardbus PC Card (PCMCIA) port from where it happily goes about the business of installing itself. That’s a process that takes little time, meaning you’re up and running in a matter of minutes.
AVerMedia supplies its own software package, and you’ll come to like the AverTV application. It follows the theme of simplicity at first, setting up the relevant channels and presenting itself in a similar guise to DVD playback software. From the control bar you can quickly access Teletext, the basic controls and the setup options. And you can also get to the record functions quickly.
Like any TV card worth its salt, the AVerTV Cardbus will record programmes direct to your hard drive, offers timeshifting support, and has a simple scheduling tool that acts as a programme timer, too. It records in either MPEG-2 or MPEG-4, the latter requiring that you download either a DivX or XviD codec to get going. You also have the option to hook up external sources, such as a camcorder or DVD player, and allow footage to be viewed on your laptop screen.
The reason the AVerTV Tuner succeeds is that it’s not distracted by frills, and is keen on simply doing the job well. From the simple installation through to the friendly software application and the quality of its video capture, the product is a good buy at just north of £50. AVerMedia clearly knew this when they were writing their box copy. They just couldn’t quite put it into words.
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