Terrestrial Terminator

Martin Pipe tries the world’s first PC tuner to support DVB-T2

Until now all of the digital terrestrial tuners sold for use with PCs complied to the old DVB-T standard. But all HDTV transmissions employ the newer and more efficient DVB-T2. The T2 290e, a tiny and stylish USB 2.0 dongle, is the first to be compatible with both. It can be used with notebooks or installed on desktop machines.

Highs

The main program, known as TVCenter, is sensibly designed. As with modern set-top boxes, initial configuration and tuning channels is a wizard-driven process. It’s also easy to use and offers all essential features. These include the selection of subtitles and alternative soundtracks, and a smart grid-based EPG for scheduling recordings (radio or TV) and channel changes. Timeshifting is also supported, and you can arrange for recordings to be transcoded into various formats, such as DivX, MPEG 1/2 or PSP/iPod-compatible MPEG 4.

Sensitivity also appears to be good. Crystal Palace’s HD channels were received reliably, from our location some 40 miles away. The decision to adopt BDA drivers, instead of proprietary ones, is handy, because it means you can use the T2 290e with alternative digital TV software. I was able to partner it with the DVBViewer program.

Picture and sound quality, especially with HD channels, proved to be excellent on our regularly-updated Yoyotech PC.

Lows

The software and drivers CD-ROM is Windows-only – there’s no Mac support. Also on this disc is DistanTV an application that streams the current programme/recording to another computer (PC or Mac) on your home network, or via the internet at large. A neat feature (it makes remote recording possible, too), but I couldn’t get it to work; a ‘stream not available’ error put an end to my excitement.

Decoding and displaying HD channels is a punishing task, and so you’ll need a super-fast PC. PCTV recommends a multi-core 2.6GHz processor for HDTV.


Nanostick T2 290E
Price:
£100 Approx

Overall: 4/5