Product Avermedia Windows 7 TV Starter Kit
System Specifications Hybrid DVB-T/analogue USB tuner; 1 x 75Ohm coaxial input
YOU WOULD THINK by now that Freeview certified TV tuners for PCs would be ten a penny, but Freeview’s website relegates the entire topic of DVB-T tuners to a single answer in its FAQ. Of course, there are dozens of digital tuners out there of all shapes and sizes, and from experience we know that most branded models work pretty well with Windows 7 Media Center.
But Avermedia has seen fit to go one step further and get one of its USB tuner dongles officially blessed by both Microsoft and Freeview, turning a fairly standard product into the Windows 7 Starter Kit. Obviously, this should mean that it’s an easy sell for those worrying types who like the comfort of a logo, but it does seem a little late in the day.
This minimalist kit consists of an Avertv Hybrid Volar HX dongle and a driver CD that includes some cheesy Vole-produced how-to videos. The dongle itself has been available for about three years in non-certified form, and is a hybrid analogue/digital model. This means it can be used for either kind of TV input or an FM antenna, but not both. It's quite chunky, so for some installations you'll definitely need an extension cable (stingily not supplied).
According to Avermedia, as this bundle is aimed solely at Windows 7 users, there's no remote control supplied. We're still chewing over the logic of that one, so if you want a remote you'll have to fork out for a third party Media Center model, about £20. The dongle has a proprietary AV input socket on the side, but the cable isn't supplied, unlike the standard Volar HX unit advertised on the Avermedia website.
The dongle drivers installed easily and it was immediately recognised by Windows 7 Media Center. We successfully tried both analogue and digital inputs, and found picture quality to be indistinguishable from our other Hauppauge tuners. Although it's not supplied, you can download the free Avertv viewing app from the website and use it with this tuner if you wish, and it's also compatible with Avermedia's Snug TV location-shifting service, for which a 30-day free trial is available to registered owners.
The Avermedia Windows 7 TV Starter Kit is an easy plug-and-go solution for Windows 7 users who just want something guaranteed to work. However, it really brings nothing new technically to the world of PC TV. µ
Full Windows and Freeview certification, analogue or digital reception, no software needed for Windows 7.
Bulky, no remote, no AV input cable, no USB cable, expensive.
An old product in a new box, but it still works well enough.