As happy in a desktop machine as it is in the laptops it’s clearly been designed for, Terratec’s Cinergy Hybrid T USB XS not only, er, sports a catchy name, but also serves as an effective and very portable TV tuner solution.
The key feature to it is immediately obvious when you open the box. This is a small device, just a little larger than a USB flash memory key. It plugs into a spare USB port and has on the back through-ports for the included multi-connector cable (which itself comes with connections for video, audio and a sensor for the remote control) and the also supplied, and also minute, antenna.
To get it up and running is as simple as you’d expect. In goes the device to a spare USB 2.0 port, whereupon it was instantly detected by each of our test machines. Then it’s over to the software CD to do its work. As well as getting the Cinergy Hybrid T USB XS running, the CD includes a copy of PowerCinema 4.0 from Cyberlink, which also incorporates DVD creation software.
And PowerCinema 4.0 is a deceptive package. Our instant impressions were that it was a little cumbersome and quite jerky to use. But first impressions can prove deceptive, and PowerCinema emerges as a powerful, user-friendly and competent piece of software.
It effortlessly takes you through scanning for both analogue and free digital channels, and we found ourselves sitting and watching them within minutes of inserting the Cinergy into our machine for the first time.
There are further tricks in its armoury too. We’ve touched on the digital capabilities, although they’re restricted to free-to-air channels, but there’s also Teletext, timeshifting and digital recording support. Again, these are all easy to set up, activate and customise to an extent. Any recordings can be output to disc using the provided software, incidentally.
Rounding off the hardware package is a fully-featured remote control. Granted, it’s by some distance the biggest piece of hardware in the box, and dwarfs the tuner itself, but it’s a far better remote than we’d usually expect with such a product.
There has, sadly, been a little corner-cutting where the documentation is concerned, with the user manual (which is cheerfully described as a ‘hopefully entertaining manual’, a modern day oxymoron if ever we saw one) on CD only.
But that’s a very minor fly in an otherwise rich ointment. This is a highly portable, user-friendly and surprisingly comprehensive analogue and digital TV solution, and one that’s impossible not to commend.
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