I have just recently purchased a USB TV Tuner from Terratec this month and it cost 99 Euros. The Terratec Cinergy HTC USB XS HD and here are its specs:
- DVB-T (DTT, Freeview), DVB-C and analogue TV and radio receiver
- Remote control and antenna included
- Breakout cable video input/audio input
- Video Codecs: MPEG 2, MPEG 4 / H.264 for HD
- Audio Codecs: AC3 Dolby Digital, MPEG Audio
- Digital video recorder
- EPG, Teletext and TimeShifting
- Picture in Picture within a transponder
- Browser TV
- USB 2.0 compatible
- Power supply via USB
- Voltage: 5V DC (USB bus powered)
- Current: 480mA
- Housing colour: white/grey
- Dimensions: 80 x 30 x 15 mm (wide x height x deep)
- Weight: 30 gramm
Infrared remote control
- 48 buttons
- Weight: 82 gramm (incl. batteries)
- 2xAAA batteries
- 2.0 GHz Intel or AMD CPU
- 1024 MB RAM
- Windows XP SP2 / Vista
- 1 available USB 2.0 interface
- 300 MB free hard drive space for software installation
- Direct-X-compatible audio hardware
- Direct-X-compatible video card with video overlay function
- CD/DVD drive for driver/software installation
- CD/DVD drive for creating CDs/DVDs
System recommendation for HDTV reception
- Dual Core Intel or AMD CPU for HDTV decoding
- 1024 MB RAM (Win XP) 2048 MB RAM (Win Vista)
- Graphics card with hardware acceleration for HDTV
- Terrestrial digital TV reception (DVB-T, Freeview, TNT) with HD resolution
- TerraTec Home Cinema
- MAGIX Movies on CD & DVD TV Edition
- Codec set for HDTV
This is my first time using a TV Tuner to both my Laptop and my Desktop so I can't really compare which brand is better or what is the best brand. So I will just compare the video quality of my 23 inch DELL LCD (with the Cinergy TV Tuner stick) and my old 32 inch GRUNDIG CRT TV.
The video quality of my GRUNDIG CRT TV is better than my DELL LCD. I am not surprised about this because in my opinion, LCDs can't beat the CRTs in terms of Video Quality as of now. If I say my GRUNDIG's video quality is 10 out of 10, I say that my DELL LCD (with the Cinergy TV Tuner stick)'s video quality is 8 out of 10. I think this is not bad for an LCD Monitor using only a USB TV Tuner.
The channel scanning only took 5 to 10 minutes and it detected all 60+ channels that my GRUNDIG shows. I also have no problems with my Remote Control. Every button works as I have expected. Pressing the power button would turn on or off the TV Tuner Software. Pressing the record button will record the show. I could also change channels while I am recording a specific channel (I love this feature ^_^).
I think that with a PCI TV Tuner Card the video quality would be better than a USB. But unfortunately I didn't find a PCI TV Tuner Card that is capable of DVB-C and DVB-T that I like. (BTW, the connection type in my place is DVB-C but I have heard from the news that Germany plans to implement DVB-T in All of Germany, so I decided to buy a Hybrid TV Tuner) I chose this product not because I have no choice but because it is just a USB Stick so I could use it with my laptop and my desktop (unlike PCI cards where you have to open your pc case) anytime I want. It is portable and handy.
The only 1 problem (which I solved immediately) was when I first installed the device. The remote control is working, the software is running fine, it scanned and detected both TV and FM channels. But after 5 minutes of viewing a channel (any channel) , the software will start to freeze and hang and then display a "NO SIGNAL" message. I searched Terratec's site for solutions and immediately noticed that they have an updated driver available. The driver version in the Installation CD is 5.8.0430.0. The updated driver version is 5.8.630.0. I installed the latest driver and it worked! So if you have encountered this problem please do not decide immediately to return the product as the solution is very simple. Just update the driver.
Overall I was very satisfied with Terratec's Cinergy HTC USB XS HD TV Tuner. I have not encountered any other problems so far (except for the problem above) and I am still playing and experimenting with its features and possibilities.
Which TV Tuner did or have you purchased? Is the Video Quality good? Have you encountered major problems with the product? Was it fixed? Please share your ideas or experiences. ^_^
[Update January 15, 2009]
If you want a sample recorded video (raw format is AVI) with Terratec Cinergy HTC USB XS HD, please watch this.
[Update January 29, 2009]
If you want a sample recorded video (raw format is MPEG) with Terratec Cinergy HTC USB XS HD, please watch this.
[Update January 29, 2009]If you want a sample JPEG Image Capture with Terratec Cinergy HTC USB XS HD, please read this post.