We had some trouble actually using the card at first, which we tried to do under Vista. After fiddling around with the software and hardware numerous times and being assaulted with errors for our efforts we eventually decided that the problem must be the lack of vista support.
Of course, the lack of Vista drivers was a little confusing thanks to the massively useless website which links only to blank driver pages. We tried to inquire with the relevant PR people about any possible Vista drivers, but were greeted only with bounced back emails. A Google search for the product name bought up a host of Vista drivers on an unofficial site, so we gave them a try too but were only greeted with the same set of errors when we tried to install the new drivers.
Under XP though, which is obviously what the card was designed for, the software functioned a lot more easily. Installation was simply a case of plugging the card into one of our few remaining XP test-beds (DirectX 10 is slowly taking over, no matter what some game developers are saying) and then running the driver from the CD.
The CD however didn’t exactly fill us with confidence as it was simply a shiny CD-R with some driver version numbers scrawled across it in black felt pen.
Click to enlarge
With the driver and software installed, we tried picking up some TV signals. This was pretty difficult for us using the puny aerial provided in the box and the matter wasn’t made any easier by the fact that bit HQ is located in the middle of a forest (from where we slowly pollute the surrounding woodland life with our glorious technologies). The card did a quick scan for available channels and was ultimately forced to admit defeat, with a maximum quality reception of three percent and no channels discovered.
So, we then had to wheel the test-bed over to a proper aerial and plug it in properly. This done, we ran the channel scan again and got some much better results. The TV was quickly able to pick a lot of the more awful free TV channels – ITV2 being our immediate choice because, though it’s a little embarrassing to admit, I’ve always had a soft spot for TV shows like The Jeremy Kyle Show and I even invented a drinking game themed around the show when I was at university (I think you need to tell us all about this, Joe - Ed).
Unfortunately, Jeremy was absent at the time and I had to settle with watching a bit of Judge Judy, which is possibly the second best show ever because I never get tired of watching stupid people going on TV to be shouted at by a grumpy old lady in the hope that it will somehow make them richer.
I seized a chance to have a quick fiddle with the various buttons on the Hypermedia software which comes packaged with the card and which is used to actually watch and record TV.
Judge Judy; a lady who knows how to get things done.
The software is unfortunately rather awful to use. There wasn’t any obvious help or documentation for the software, which made navigation and use more than just a bit difficult. It was easy to navigate up and down through the available channels by using the TV remote and it was just about possible to grab screenshots and the like, but using some of the other features such as digital recording were out of reach for us.
On the plus side, we were able to get dual channels working in a split screen mode but we only found it as headache inducing as you might imagine.
Things got worse as we experimented more and more with the software and discovered that not only was it without readily available documentation, but it actually used Comic Sans as a font on some menus. In the eyes of some, that’s an unforgivable sin.