Not much has changed over the years about the way Hauppauge TV tuners go about their business. That’s a double edged sword: on the one hand, the firm stuck to an approach that worked, with simple setup that got you running in double-quick time. On the other hand, the outdated feel of the bundled software’s interface does it no favours. Plus, for some bizarre reason, Hauppauge persists with the credit card-style remote control, surely loathed by anyone who’s used such a device.
The WinTV-Duet is a dual digital television tuner that allows you, in theory, to watch one channel and record another. It can pick up digital transmissions, it integrates with Windows Media Center, and it’s small. So small, it fits, as WinTV products have been doing for some time, in a USB 2.0 port. It’s like an oversized flash disk and connects, via supplied leads, your aerial to the tuner via a pair of ports on the side.
It’s not just the remote control that’s making a return appearance, though. The portable antenna that Hauppauge has traditionally bundled in is also here, and it’s as much use as always. We’ve used many, many WinTV products over the years, and not once has the tiny aerial ever managed to pick up anything close to a convincing signal. It doesn’t here, and you’re better off connecting the unit to a roof aerial to get a decent picture.
If you do that, and you’re still getting a weak signal, then the device does have a nifty trick up its sleeve. You can basically get it to combine its receivers to achieve better reception. If the reception is already fine, then you get a solid amount for your money here. It’s a dual-channel receiver, so you can watch one and record the other direct to your hard drive – and, save for that outdated feel, it’s hard to grumble with the WinTV software application itself. Once you’re set up, you get an electronic programme guide (EPG), timeshifting, and basically, the regular features you’d expect.
Hauppauge has positioned this stick at the entry level end of the market, and that’s about right. It’s folly to suggest it’s suitable for any use other than being wired up to a main aerial, so it’s best to forget ideas of packing it away in a laptop bag. But as a cheap, effective and solid way to get digital TV on your PC, without high-definition frills, it’s a solid product. The remote really is dreadful, mind…
- The low cost, the good results.
- The remote, the antenna.
Terrible remote, awful antenna, but a solid, low-cost digital TV receiver that's a breeze to set up.