Even though it’s not perfect, we really enjoyed working with the DVB-T PE310. It’s a combination of great picture, simple setup and the fact that it’s also one of the first TV tuner cards to finally start putting the PCI-e bus to good use.
It boasts two tuners, each of which can tune analogue or digital TV as well as FM radio. They are both designed around Philips TDA10046A decoder chips. The audio output is routed directly into the sound system, instead of using an internal audio lead to connect to an auxiliary sound card input.
We didn’t have any problems installing the software or tuning the channels, which in the world of TV tuner cards is cause for celebration. We ran into problems with 1080i signals from channel Nine and Ten, where the top left of the frame was displayed but was choppy, which we are attributing to bad reception.
There are two antenna connectors on the backplane: one for analogue and one for digital connectors. In practice though, we could pick up both analogue and digital signals from the digital connector once we hooked it up to the roof antenna. There’s also a 3.5mm socket on the backplane which the IR receiver plugs into, as well as an 8-pin connector and breakout cable for connecting a composite, S-video and an audio source.
The included antenna does work, but is mostly rubbish. It’s passable if you use it for FM radio or analogue TV, provided you live close to a broadcast tower and are prepared to put up with a noisy signal. Disappointingly for anyone with small form factor media PCs, there is no half-height backplane included.
The software only gave us two errors over the course of our testing period. Both errors brought up a dialogue box that had to be clicked, but neither crashed the software or stopped the signal. This may be fixed in an update. The screen saver isn’t disabled by default during full screen viewing, but this can be changed.
Time shifting features are included, as well as direct MPEG2 recording. A plethora of capture options, including video only and audio only modes, are available. The included software displays two TV windows, and you can mute the audio output of one as it records while recording the other. You can also resize the windowed display, which is a nice bonus.
Drivers for Windows Media Centre Edition are available if you’d prefer to use the card as part of a media PC. If you’re just after some TV in the background, the software and card don’t disappoint, making it a very attractive option.