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Asus My Cinema ES2-750 PT/FM/AV/RC Hybrid TV Card
With the limitations of many media players and ever-falling prices of ever more powerful PC components, building a Home Theatre PC (HTPC) as the centre of your entertainment setup is a mighty tempting proposition. A core part of this setup will be a TV Tuner card, and we're looking at a likely candidate today: Asus' lengthily-named My Cinema ES2-750 PT/FM/AV/RC Hybrid TV Card.
Asus is by no means a stranger to the TV tuner game and its My Cinema range has been around for a long while, so we're hoping for good things. This card isn't high-end though. Unlike the dual-DVB-T Compro VideoMate E900F we reviewed a while back, the ES2-750 only has a single TV aerial input, through which you can choose to accept digital (ATSC, DVB-T, and Clear QAM) or analogue terrestrial (PAL, SECAM, and NTSC) television, though obviously the former is the preferred option.
At the card's heart beats an AMD/ATI Theater HD750 chip, which while not featuring unusually advanced video processing does bring with it a few advantages - especially if you have an AMD/ATI Radeon HD graphics card, which it can use for transcoding. The HD750 offers all the usual enhancements such as an intelligent 2D/3D comb filter, de-interlacing and noise reduction. A highlight here is 12-bit ADC rather than the usual 8-bit one, but this is only relevant if you do still watch analogue TV.
In addition to its TV tuner functionality the ES2-750 offers FM radio, and also allows you to connect external AV sources through it to your PC. The only downside is that there's no component input, just S-Video and composite, so HD is out of the question. To be fair this is a problem with many of these devices, but some tuners like the aforementioned Compro E900F do offer component.
Asus' included bundle is certainly adequate though. Aside from the card itself, which sports a full-height bracket by default, there's a half-height bracket, AV input cable (composite or S-Video to 8-pin DIN), IR extension cable, TV and Radio aerials and finally a remote control.
To be honest the remote isn't anything special. Ergonomically, the relatively heavy remote is just a bit too large for comfort, though it does make a very solid impression and is finished in durable textured matte black. Some of the edges when inserting the AA batteries are sharp enough to cut. Meanwhile the buttons are on the small side and though logical, their layout isn't particularly clever either. However, you'll likely get used to any quirks and at least the remote is very responsive with excellent range (we tested up to 20 metres).