IntroductionThe recent introduction of Microsoft's Media Centre edition of Windows XP really thrust the concept of using the PC as your home media hub, controlling everything from DVD to TV, into the limelight. With that explosion in recognition, related products have come crawling out of the woodwork, thrust into the hands of reviewers like yours truly.
Products that combine TV, radio and PVR are increasingly common. The most well known approach comes from ATI, their integration of those products under the All-In-Wonder umbrella the one that most people could name.
However advantageous the All-In-Wonder approach is, being able to decouple the tuners, capture hardware and software from the same PCB as the GPU may be just what you're looking for, an ATI GPU and controlling software not agreeing with you for whatever reason.
Decoupling from the same PCB as the GPU means the tuners must be augmented to your PC via another method and the best candidate is the PCI bus. It's therefore no surprise to see a variety of TV and FM radio tuners available as PCI add-in cards, shipping with the required software for a non-ATI All-In-Wonder approach.
Prolink, long time purveyors of graphics cards and other multimedia hardware to the masses, are one such company who offer products with the functionality mentioned above. One of their latest products, the PlayTV@P7000 Media Centre, part of the Pixelview product range, does everything we've mentioned above and possibly a little more.
It combines the same Philips TV and FM tuner that ATI spec for their recent All-In-Wonder hardware, fed into a Conexant decoder, coupled with some Windows-friendly software for most of the features you'd expect from a 'Media Centre' product.
Let's take a closer look to see how it stacks up.