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Compro VideoMate TV Ultra Compro VideoMate TV Ultra: Looking for a TV-Tuner? We look at a great solution from an industry veteran.
Date: April 21, 2004
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Software

    First lets take a look at the software that is made by/for Compro for this tuner, the PVR software and the FM tuner software.  After that we will look at the other software.

    With the software that Compro includes to watch and capture TV, is one that covers all the basics you need to watch TV.  Closed captioning, still images, and the standard button to make the image stay on top.  The one thing that I was extremely disappointed is the encoding properties.  The only options allowed for encoding are MPEG-2 or MPEG-1 which while not horrible doesn't give one anywhere near the options one could use.  In use this program works well though I still prefer the ATi TV software for ease of use, and variety of encoding options.

    The FM tuner program looks extremely similar to that of the TV tuner.  It auto detects the channels of your FM radio, and in my case managed to get all of them pretty easily.  The recording options are for the standard Wave, WMA, and basic MP3 encoding levels.  MP3 is only for up to 56kb/s unless you happen to have a full version encoder that Windows allows.

    Compro also includes a DVD player, similar in design to that of the other two programs they provide.  However we can see in the above picture who actually makes the program is CyberLink, creators of PowerDVD.  Thus this version should perform as well as PowerDVD which puts it at or near the top of the DVD decoder market.

    Moving on to the non Compro based programs we will look at Ulead's DVD Movie Factory 2 SE.  This program has many of the featuers of the higher end DVD Workshop program.  Only some parts have been cut down to provide a more basic version.

    Next is the program that you will use to edit the video that you capture with the PVR software or even this program.  Again this is a cut down version of the higher end MediaStudio Pro.  You have the choice of either story board editing or my favorite, timeline editing.  This is a good program for the beginner as it helps you learn and enables you to move up to a higher end program later on.

Image Quality Tests

    If you buy a TV Tuner for your computer, part of what you plan to do with it is capture video.  Even if you are just watching the video on your computer screen you still want the best quality picture that you can get.

  First lets look at the quality provided by the TV tuner. All the images were taken within a few minutes of each other (as the time stamp on each indicates). The same cable was used in all three cases. This was live TV that was captured to HuffYUV compression at 720*480. The channel used was the weather channel for its repeatable video. So does the Compro Videomate TV Ultra have the quality to beat our previous TV-in quality leader the ATi AiW 9000 Pro, or is it more like the TV Wonder or Hauppauge WinTV-GO.

Hauppauge WinTV-Go

ATi TV Wonder

ATi AiW 9000 Pro

Compro VideoMate Ultra - 2D & 3D Mode

Compro VideoMate Ultra - 2D & Noise Reduction

Compro VideoMate Ultra - 3D Mode

    First we can see the weakest quality comes from the Hauppauge tuner, as its the very basic tuner.  Then there is the ATi TV Wonder, which has some very aliased text among other things.  Next we see that the ATi AiW 9000 Pro has basically the second best image quality of the cards tested here, with the only problems being there is small artifacts near the text.  The best of the cards in all aspects of image quality is the VideoMate card, when in 2D and noise reduction mode, which has very good text quality but its the moving image quality that makes a difference between this mode and the other modes which include the 3D mode.

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