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Asus My Cinema ES2-750 PT/FM/AV/RC Hybrid TV Card - Asus My Cinema ES2-750 Hybrid TV Card
Getting back to the ES2-750 card, at less than 10cm long and a mere 5.5cm high it's tiny and will fit in almost any case. It's PCI-Express though, so won't work in old motherboards that only have PCI expansion slots.
Installation is very simple, and is covered in about 30 languages in the included manual (though it doesn't cover anything else). Thanks to the ES2-750's use of an ATI tuner chip, you shouldn't need to install the included driver if you have an ATI graphics card with driver version 8.61 or later, as this will run the tuner just fine. Either way though, you'll still want to insert the included CD to install ArcSoft's excellent TotalMedia software
Though you can of course install applications individually, if you just click the button labelled 'Smart installation wizard' everything will be automatically set up, culminating in a channel scan for the TV tuner (the FM radio channels have to be set to scan manually). All of the software is compatible with Windows XP and Vista, and should work with Windows 7.
Unfortunately we couldn't get Asus' GadgeTV applet (that lets you easily watch or record TV from Vista's sidebar) to work on our test system, but it's no big deal as ArcSoft's TotalMedia is incredibly intuitive and easy to use, with a visually pleasing interface. At the main menu you can choose between TV, Picture, Radio, Video and Setup, all of which are easy to navigate with either the mouse, keyboard, or remote. Naturally you can pause (TimeShift) and record live TV, and since your PC takes care of the processing the quality of the image processing will be on a level with specialised AV systems.
When recording/transcoding, the ES2-750 can cope with an unusual amount of formats including MPEG2/4, WMV, AVI, DivX and even H.264, which nicely covers practically all the options you might want. Of course the lack of dual digital tuners does mean that you can't watch one digital channel while recording another, though you can do so with digital and analogue.
If you're one of those few who isn't bothered by the lack of dual digital, then for £43 Asus' ES2-750 is worth considering. It's a compact card that works well, remains cool in use and comes with excellent software - which can't be said for the likes of Compro's VideoMate E900F. However, most users will want dual digital tuners, especially for an HTPC, so there are many better (albeit more expensive) alternatives on this front. Combined with the average remote and lack of component input, we'd therefore hesitate to recommend the ES2-750.
A tiny little card with good performance and excellent software, Asus' My Cinema ES2-750 PT/FM/AV/RC Hybrid TV Card is let down by its lack of a second digital tuner.
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