Setting everything up wasn't too difficult and we had no issues with reception with the HVR-4400 installed inside our case. The software had a slightly clunky demeanor, but worked without a hitch and picked up all the channels we were expecting. It's not as slick as WMC, which we'll get to in a minute, and by default we were unable to bring up the TV guide without reaching for a mouse.
The HVR-4400 allows for 1080p HD H.264 recording (depending on broadcast quality) with DVB-S2 and MPEG-2 recordings with DVB-T and the WinTV 7 software provides easy navigation of recorded programs as well as scheduled recordings, although again, WMC was a little easier to use as far as scheduling and viewing recorded programs were concerned.
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We ran into a couple of issues with WMC when it came to viewing DVB-S2 channels in WMC though. BBC HD was viewable as was ITV 1 HD however Channel 4 HD and BBC 1 HD required the carrier frequency, symbol rate and polarity to be manually entered. Once we'd done this, we also ran a full satellite transponder scan for good measure and picked up further channels.
It's a bit of a palava, but it's a limitation of tragically under-supported WMC rather than being Hauppauge's fault, and the satellite tuning details are subject to change as well although a full transponder scan is probably the answer here, rather than faffing around trying to find the new tuning details.
Click to enlargeConclusion
We were pleasantly surprised by the WinTV HVR-4400. We had no signal strength issues, which are often reported with other makes, and bar a few issues with WMC, we managed to tap into the full complement of HD channels. The remote worked well, but we still prefer WMC to the included software. Thankfully the remote worked flawlessly here too, and both recording and playing back live TV and scheduling recordings were possible without feel the urge to reach for a mouse - exactly what you need for an HTPC.
With most decent Freesat HD set-top boxes retailing for around £100 and Freesat PVRs costing usually double this, the HVR-4400 doesn't seem that expensive in comparison. Even in WMC it's not quite as snappy as a set-top box, and you'll likely have to run through using it a few times with the less tech-savvy. However, if you're reading this review then you're probably equipped with a potent-enough techy aptitude to have it up and running in less than 20 minutes.
The main downside is the fact that neither DVB-T or DVB-S/S2 come equipped with dual tuners, meaning if you only have a satellite dish or digital aerial - not both, you won't be able to record one channel and view another. If that's likely to be a pain then this isn't for you. However, if you're lucky enough to have both and want to combine the best of Freeview with that of Freesat, then the HVR-4400 not only does both well in one package but will save you a whole wad of cash by not having to buy two PVRs.