So you've just bought a high-definition console, but you don't want to shell out on a high-definition television since you already own an HD-ready computer monitor. Or you're tight on space, and would like to be able to watch Freeview digital and analogue TV channels on the same display that's hooked up to your PC. AverMedia claims to offer a solution in the form of its AVerTV Hybrid STB 1080i, a box that has integrated digital and analogue TV tuners, throughputs for various bits of kit and will convert Component-in to DVI-out.
AverMedia doesn't get off to the best of starts with the box alarmingly quoting such features as ‘Special for Professional Game Console', and ‘Worldwide Stereo Sound'. But things look better upon opening it up, as the AVerTV Hybrid STB is securely packaged, and comes with a nice bundle including an eight-pin DIN component and S-video breakout cable, a DVI-VGA adaptor, DVI and 3.5mm audio cables and a remote control.
The unit itself is a fairly decent-looking and diminutive affair, roughly the size of an elongated optical drive. It sports a silver finish, with the logo, model and some of the features printed below several grey control buttons. It has a green power LED, IR sensor, headphone jack, composite plus stereo in/out, S-Video connector and the eight-pin DIN on the front, while the back houses the power jack, 3.5mm audio in/out, antenna connection and DVI in/out. On the bottom are four rubber feet for horizontal placement. It comes with a small 5V power brick, just slightly larger than ones for most mobile phones.
Meanwhile, the base - in case you want to place the AVerTV unit upright - is very solid, constructed of thick plastic in the same colour as the buttons - though it would probably have been nicer if it had been silver to match the box. The rubber pads on the bottom don't extend beyond the base's lowest edges, meaning it is possible to scratch the desk or shelf that it stands on. But once down it does provide a very solid ‘grip'.
However, the first sign of physical cost-cutting is that the unit doesn't actually fit properly on the base, because the rubber feet for horizontal orientation are in the way. This rather defeats the purpose of providing a base in the first place, and means that in the upright position, you have to be very careful when hooking up cables not to put too much pressure on the device.
The remote (running on the twin AAA batteries provided) is actually a pleasant surprise, for while it's no Logitech Harmony 1000, its layout is sensible and quite comfortable. Unfortunately its colour scheme doesn't match anything about the STB, but that's not really a major issue. And though none of the buttons are backlit or even glow-in-the-dark, the sensible layout makes it reasonably easy to use the most common functions in the dark.