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Customer Review

on 6 February 2013
Well it is either OK or not very OK, depending on what you expect/want from it.

If all you want to do is plug it into your house Freeview aerial and watch TV on your PC and record then its OK.

I installed it on to a good spec Lenovo laptop 1 year old running Windows 7 Home Premium. I started the install and chose the Windows Media Centre option. Some way through it stopped and displayed a message about it had stopped and nothing had been updated. No inkling whatsoever as to what had happened, hmnn.

So I restarted and chose the other option to use the TV Centre software on the CD. That went through cleanly. I get an excellent Freeview (SD) reception on my TV. I plugged in the supplied aerial and had it standing about 2 feet from a large window facing in the same direction as the house aerial. I started scanning and after an hour and 15mins plus it finished. It had found the BBC SD channels and some radio stations; no ITV, 4 or 5 channels nor anything else really and no HD channels.

I then selected BBC1 and waited to watch; nothing really, just the occasionally sound and jerky blocks of partial video screen.
If you have any desire to use this as a mobile TV using the supplied aerial, forget it - as I have and will be returning the item.

I then connected it to the house aerial system and went through the tuning operation again - just as long I think. This time I got everything including all the HD channels. BBC1 played fine this time although I would say the video quality was not as good as the SD reception displayed on my TV (which is very good). I then tried BBC HD and that was good, better I think than the SD display on the TV.

I then tried the EPG which I had left at the default selection. It seemed OK, I did not spend a lot of time playing with it, but the information on the HD channels was garbage. I updated it again today but it was still garbage. The alternative option for the EPG is a demo and you have to pay money to get a licence to use it going forward.

So if you want to record HD programs you will have to enter it all manually. For SD programs you just find the program, right click and click record - very easy. I recorded 2 programs and both results seemed to be fine.

I then started to work on accessing the live TV program from another device -an Android tablet. I had assumed, although to be fair it does not mention it on the packaging, that PCTV would use DLNA but it does not. You set up a TV server on the PC and then access the server via your web browser, either via your local network (I used wireless) or via the internet. If the other device is a PC then there is a client that can be installed which may well negate the need to use your browser.

You need a flash enabled browser for this to work; not a problem with a windows PC, potentially problematic on newer Android devices, no idea about Apple. It took some time-you need to read the manual, I got caught out by missing that I needed to specify a port in the firewall for the application to use.

After a considerable number of hours I could read the EPG on my tablet, I could play a recorded program but I could not get it to display the live TV program.

This "remote" access uses software called Distan TV mobile (server and client) which is supplied but it is a 14 day demo and you have to pay more money to get a licence.

Playing recorded programs over DLNA. I tried a variety of players to play the raw recorded file but they all failed (including Windows Media Player 12) apart from the gobsmackingly good J River Media Centre. You will probably need to convert the file -software supplied - to a more recognised format. I tried this once and it worked OK, quite fast I think. I converted to an H264.mkv file but the file size created was half the size of the original which makes me wonder if the conversion software can only output SD files.

So in summary for me it was a nasty experience hence the score of two.
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