Only half the picture?

An HD tuner for PCs for £30? Martin Pipe discovers the catch...

This neat dongle adds terrestrial digital TV reception to a Windows PC. But let’s get one thing straight from the beginning – the packaging (and product name) may suggest HD happiness, but the tuner is DVB-T only. Some other countries use the DVB-T standard for HD broadcasting, and the AVerTV Volar HD may well be ready for them. But in the UK, it’s SD-only folks – although manufacturer AVerMedia has said it will release DVB-T2 standard devices in the second part of this year.


The supplied AVerTV software installed without a hitch and works well. It supports the H.264 codec commonly used for HD broadcasting, meaning that if laptop and tuner are taken abroad you may well be able to tune into terrestrial HD services. A UK ‘exclusive’ catered for by the package is MHEG-5 – ‘red button’ digital teletext to you and I. Picture and sound quality are both top-notch, because the video and audio are ‘snatched’ directly from the off-air transport stream.

You can also ‘timeshift’ live TV, your computer’s HDD being used as a temporary buffer. Timed recordings can be scheduled via the basic EPG..

The AVerTV Volar HD is compatible with third-party applications and so you’re not stuck with what AVer gives you. The device is also compatible with the TV functionality of Windows Media Center Edition.


The supplied TV aerial is, to all intents and purposes, useless. Unless, of course, you can see the transmitter mast out of your window. With a properly-installed external aerial, though, AVerTV Volar HD proved its mettle.

Even if two channels are in the same multiplex, you cannot record one while viewing the other.

AVerTV Volar HD
£30 Approx

Overall: 3/5