TV has been around for over 50 years and computers have been around for approximately the length of time. It is only natural that since computing speed has improved, we begin to see the convergence of computers and TV. Currently Microsoft is pushing their Windows Media Center edition of the their operating system. This along with some laptops and desktops has made more people aware of the fact computers can be used as TV's/VCR's these days.
This logically brings us to the subject of TV Tuners, which enables people to watch TV on computer. Many companies have made TV tuners, most notably ATi and Hauppauge. Many other companies do make tuners but aren't necessarily as well known as the two previous examples.
Compro has made strides in the last three years to provide a good TV tuner. They have only recently started creating their own products, though they have been around since 1988. So as we take a look at one of Compro's tuners, lets see how well they have done in the past three years in creating a good TV tuner.
Compro VideoMate TV Ultra
Today we will look at one of the higher end capture cards, the . Lets take a look at the packaging and the actual unit to see how Compro did with this card.
What do we get with the card, lets list it quickly:
- The card itself
- IR remote and reciever
- 1/8" to 1/8" cable
- FM Tuner cable
- ATX power switch cable
- Internal cable for audio
- 2* AAA batteries
- Users guide, setup guide
- Ulead DVD MovieFactory 2
- Ulead VideoStudio 7 SE DVD
- Compro DVD software, PVR and FM radio software
We can see that Compro provided plenty in the way of extra's from the IR remote to the Ulead based software. Its interesting to see that they included a more DVD oriented bundle with DVD Movie Factory, Video Studio DVD edition and their own DVD software. But lets take a little more in depth look at the card itself.
We can see that the back plate of the card has seven different connectors. Going from top to bottom we have: FM Tuner RCA connector; TV Tuner connector; IR reciever port; Audio in; Audio out; S-Video in; and Composite in. The only connector really that could be missing is a component in connector, but I haven't really seen any card with this on it yet. The controller of the entire card is the PCI video/audio decoder, which provides all the decoding of TV signals and other input signals. Lastly when we look at the top right corner of the card we see three connectors, first is the internal audio connector, then is the ATX pass through connector which we will look at next.
One feature of the card that is part software and part hardware, is that pass through connector for the ATX power switch. With the included software we can set the system to actually turn on at the specific time that you want to watch/record a program. This only really works with the included PVR program that they provide with the card.
Another feature that has become somewhat more of a standard in TV tuners these days is that of the FM tuner. As a tuner it works very well, though I found that to get a clear signal required a little more work than that of the comparison FM tuner in my RCA receiver. Now lets take a little look at the software that Compro decided to include.