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The audio and video quality put out by the PVR2000 is top class. Being in a strong reception area, I fully expected to see the product at its best and you will not feel short changed when you compare the performance with your television of hi-fi. The minimalist style layout of the WinFast player could prove a little confusing initially to first time users, but anyone who has played DVDs on their computer with either Intervideo’s WinDVD or CyberLink’s PowerDVD will feel immediately at home.
The remote does feel a little flimsy and plastic for my liking but this is a problem found with most PC TV Cards. I’m also not a fan of the white finish, but that is purely personal taste. Where I cannot fault the remote is the clear layout and extensive options. Almost everything you can do with the PVR2000 – excluding basic setup – can be handled by the remote. The range of the infrared is also fairly impressive compared to the often erratic nature of other PC TV Card remotes. You still have to point towards the infrared sensor rather than just anywhere in its general direction, but I can live with that.
One disappointment was the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) which only works in Japan and the US, so if you want to look up the times and dates of your favourite TV and radio programmes you’ll need to keep buying the TV Times or hold onto that trusty Internet bookmark. Despite this issue, it is possible to manually program the PVR2000 using simple drop down menus to set the channel, time and date and if left in hibernate or standby mode the WinFast software will also wake the PC if necessary to make sure it doesn’t miss anything.
Where the PVR2000 really comes into its own, however, is when using the MPEG2 Encoder to record directly from TV or radio. The onboard hardware means PC system resources stay free and consequently you can get on with any other PC functions at the same time. I was even able to get away with playing something as demanding as Doom3 without any noticeable drop off. There is a momentary pause when the hard drive finishes its recording, but if you have two hard drives in your computer and install games on one drive and set the storage location for your TV and radio recordings on the other you can bypass even this minor problem.
Once recorded, I found the Ulead software provided with the PVR2000 to be helpful and straightforward for editing captures, with options to add audio (music or voice commentary), subtitles (including animated 3D objects) and video effects such as fade out and overlay. Should you find yourself short on disk space, Leadtek has also thrown in its own DirectBurn software which can record directly to storage media.
If there is one area where the PVR2000 does fall down, it’s the price. At £79.34 it is a long way from being the cheapest PC TV Card solution, but at the same time, it is a very comprehensive solution and this amount of money should not break the bank. Of all its features, it is the relative independence that the PVR2000 has from the PC that impresses me the most. PC TV Cards may not be the newest technology on the block, but as the PVR2000 proves, it’s a technology that’s still improving.
There are cheaper PC TV cards on the market, but the PVR2000 has enough additions to make it a worthwhile purchase if you need the extra functionality.