One thing that ought to be added is a setup wizard. When the software first launches you’re presented with an empty screen and you have to hunt around to find the configuration options, represented by a spanner. Inside, you select your local region and the card goes off and scans for channels. It did so quickly and listed each one with the channel logo so it’s easy to recognise. On the left hand side of the screen there are various tabs for different options. In the capture settings you can select between, ‘Programme Stream’ which will record the programme you’re tuned in to in MPEG 2 format, or it will record the raw programme stream. This will enable you to record all the programs being received at the same time. However, to view the different channels they have to be separated first, a process known as demuxing and you’ll have to get third part software to do this. This is a complicated process and one for adventurous users only.
When it comes to recording a programme in the normal way there’s an on screen EPG, a feature that really sets the product apart from any analogue tuner. Right click on a programme and a dialogue box appears enabling you to record or set it up for a series or weekly recording.
Hold the mouse over the virtual LCD screen on the software and a list of channels pops up. Unfortunately, this appeared in a random order mixing up TV stations and radio stations. The fact that is automatically pops up is a little irritating, as you have to be careful where you move your mouse.
The software is also capable of some neat tricks. There’s a Picture and Picture (PAP) setting, which enables you to watch two channels at the same time with audio from both. A bar across the screen represents the audio and you slide it one way or the other to raise or lower volume. You also have a Picture In Picture (PIP) setting where you have one channel appear in a small box and a Picture On Picture mode, which enables you to change the channel of the smaller image via arrow at the top. Double click on the channel and it will swap places with the larger one. The best trick though is the Channel surf option, which enables you to bring up a thumbnail view of each channel, with the amount that will fit on your screen only limited by the resolution of your display. The channel the mouse sits over is active while the others display the last frame.
The software will, of course, enable you to pause TV, but to do this you have to first press the time shif key. I would make this a default so that pausing is always available. Once paused you can forward and rewind at your leisure and it worked reliably for me.
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