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Leadtek WinFast TV2000 XP Expert TV-tuner Review

Leadtek WinFast TV2000 XP Expert TV-tuner Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: This PCI card has ambitions to replace your VCR, with video recording straight to DVD, timeshifting and an assortment of other goodies..
 81% Rating:   
Filed under: Video Cards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Leadtek Apr 30 2004   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Video Cards > Leadtek WinFast TV2000 XP Expert

Using Time Shifting on a PC

Never having had the privilege of playing with a Tivo or other time-shifting TV appliance, I was a bit disappointed to learn that this feature merely allows you to create a recorded 'stream' of the TV signal, slightly behind the original signal's time, which of course can be paused, fast forwarded or rewound. Useful if you have to get up and do something during the movie, but hardly a deal maker for us.

Expectations about the remote Leadtek bundle in with the TV2000 XP were a little tepid at first, considering it uses a small infrared sensor on a cable plugged into the card in order to pass its signals to the card. However, I found the range and operating angles perfectly fine. All the functions of the Leadtek TV2000XP Expert are controlled through the bundled Winfast PVR software, and the interface for the software is a fairly intuitive skinnable control panel.

In the first part of our test, we used the Leadtek TV2000XP Expert to bring TV signals into a 19" Samsung CRT monitor hooked up directly to the PC. We used a small antenna to receive broadcast signals, and also plugged in an Expressview satellite TV decoder via the S-video cable input.

The automatic channel scan built into the TV2000XP worked well for us once we had entered in our location and signal type (NTSC, Canada). Quality from the TV tuner was about what you would expect from a small antenna, but the experience of using the tuner card in this way, especially in full-screen with the remote control in hand, was just like having a TV in front of you.

Switching modes to the S-video input, and the signal from the satellite dish, I found myself wishing that Leadtek included a universal remote control, as I natually had to pick up the channel changer for the satellite box to switch between stations when connected in this manner. Mental note: make universal channel changer for TV-tuner.

The picture quality on the computer monitor while inputting a cable signal in this mode was decent, though slightly inferior to the picture on a comparative 20" Samsung TV sitting a few feet away. I'd chock this up to the S-video cable which tends to wash out the colours. Resizing the TV window was extremely easy, and having a small TV window onscreen while I wrote this was admirably distracting... distracting. ;)

I recorded several video streams during the course of testing out Leadtek's TV2000XP Expert, and in each case it worked well. I tested the video recording capability with a variety of media formats, and on a midrange 2.1GHz, 512MB AMD XP 3000+ system, MPEG-2 'optimal quality' at 640x480 resolution gave the best tradeoff between speed and picture quality. This is the default setting of the Winfast PVR software, so this is not a surprising revelation.

The uncompressed AVI files gave the best picture quality and speed of course, but as they take up well over 200MB per minute, so this is not really a viable option.

Recording can be accomplished easily with the remote, but rather annoyingly.... As soon as you stop recording, the clip you just made begins to play back, taking up the main window and relegating the TV signal to a tiny PIP window. This makes watching something you are also recording difficult. There did not seem to be a way to change this behavior that I could figure out, which is unfortunate. Overal though, I found the recording experience much smoother when we ditched the remote for the mouse instead.

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Contents of Article: Leadtek WinFast TV2000 XP Expert
 Pg 1.  Leadtek WinFast TV2000 XP Expert TV-tuner Review
 Pg 2.  TV2000 XP Expert Features
 Pg 3.  — Using Time Shifting on a PC
 Pg 4.  Home Theatre with the TV2000XP Expert

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