AverMedia's Hybrid TV tuner card is a half-height PCI card, which ships with a mounting bracket and has broadcast driver architecture support, making it suitable for use in a media centre PC.
The card can tune into analog or digital TV signals as well as FM radio and it also has composite and S-Video input ports. For testing, we had to update the driver software that the card ships with (AverTV) in order to eliminate stability problems when recording programs. However, not all problems were resolved by the update as we found that high definition (HD) recordings lacked sound. Standard definition (SD) recordings worked perfectly and the recording scheduler, as well as the time-shifting function, worked flawlessly.
The picture quality of SD and HD channels were clear and vibrant and the card displayed both types of broadcasts without stuttering. CPU usage was 20 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, for both types of broadcasts on our AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ test platform.
Its ability to tune into analog signals was also very good - it even picked up Sydney's community TV station. Its ability to record from analog devices, such as VCRs, is adequate for short recordings, but during our tests we did note some slight skips. It is very useful as a pass-through for watching videos through your PC. The card can only record MPEG2 streams, not entire transport streams. This is not a huge omission in today's digital TV climate as most TV channels broadcast the same content on all their sub-channels.
For ease of use, Aver ships the card with a remote control and an infrared receiver.
Specifications: SD and HD tuner, analog tuner, composite and S-Video input, FM tuner, time-shifting, recording scheduler, BDA driver.
Verdict: Despite the audio problem we faced during HD recording, this card has enough versatility to make it a worthy choice for a PC or media centre. The product is distributed by Altech.