KWorld – DVB-T PE310 review

Dual Hybrid PCI-E TV tuner card
Photo of KWorld – DVB-T PE310
£70

The KWorld DVB-T PE310 stands out from the crowd as it uses a PCI Express x1 interface instead of the more usual PCI slot. Depending on your point of view that may seem like a welcome step forward, or possibly a slap in the face for anyone who owns an older PC, but there’s a good deal of sense behind this move.

KWorld has used the new Philips SAA7162 chip, which is a native PCI Express part, giving the benefit of dual digital tuners. However these aren’t regular tuners that have a fixed function, as you can reconfigure either tuner at any time, so the DVB-T PE310 can have dual analogue, dual digital or one of each. This feature gives the card its ‘Dual Hybrid’ tag.

The backplate of the card looks quite conventional with dual RF connections, a connection point for the remote receiver and a mini DIN plug. That last port accepts an adapter cable that carries S-Video, composite and RCA audio connections. Plug it all together and you have the usual tangle of cables that is a feature of every TV tuner that we have ever seen, however the hardware side of this model is very good indeed.

Wish we could say the same about the software, though. KWorld’s Hyper Media II software has all of the functions that you need but it’s not exactly intuitive to use and there was no manual in the box to make life easier.

Once you figure out which button acts as the central control, you can select either of the tuners and then configure it for digital TV, analogue TV or FM radio. You can re-configure the tuners at any time. The next job is to scan for channels and we found that the results here were comparable to any decent TV tuner.

Watching TV is straightforward and the quality is quite acceptable but of course that’s only the starting point for a dual tuner card. You’ll want to watch one channel while you record another, or you may wish to record two channels simultaneously, and in every respect the Hyper Media II software makes life difficult.

Take the simple function of channel preview as an example, where the KWorld software served up a patchwork quilt of thumbnails that is next to useless. We found it quicker and simpler to step through the channels one after the other, and that’s surely not the point at all.

Company: KWorld


Verdict
The Hybrid nature of the KWorld DVB-T PE310 is incredibly clever, as you can configure either tuner independently of the other. It clearly has huge potential provided the card has proper software support, but as things stand that's the pitfall as we weren't impressed by the Hyper Media II software. In spite of that, this TV tuner is good value and we can only hope that in time the software is updated and improved.