Diamond XtremeTV HDTV 110 Hybrid Tv Tuner USB 2.0

Admin - 2007-12-13 10:28:02 in Music / Video Players, Digital Photography/Video
Category: Music / Video Players, Digital Photography/Video
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: December 20, 2007
Price: $69.99

Introduction:

I was first turned on to TV tuners with the 9800AIW card back in 2003. Since then, I have been hooked on watching TV on my computer when I'm not gaming. What better way to meld couch potato to computer geek then being able to to do both at once? Pop up the TV and surf the net on commercials. My wife often wonders why I give up the 42" LCD for her to watch "her" shows, only to be relegated to the lab to watch TV on my computer. If she only knew... I have been itching to get my hands on an HD tuner to upgrade my aging Theater 550 Pro PCI-E card.

The Diamond XtremeTV HDTV 110 Hybrid TV Tuner USB 2.0 is a dual tuner system packed into the size of a USB Key. The ultra portability is for people on the go, and can be set up in minutes. With today's screen real estate averaging 19", and the affordability of LCDs, the addition of a tuner to your computer is a worthy investment.

Closer Look:

The Diamond XtremeTV HDTV 110 comes packaged in Diamond's trademark red and black theme with the tuner in full view. The front of the box outlines the features of the tuner, as well as Vista certification. The back of the box details the capabilities of the tuner software to turn your PC into a "Digital Entertainment Center" with the ability for PVR (Personal Video Recorder) functions, DVD playback, picture editing, music library, and video capture.

 

 

The sides of the HDTV 110  box list the System Requirements and package contents.

 

 

Closer Look:

 

Getting the contents unboxed shows the tuner packed in a plastic clamshell case with the USB tuner on top, and the accessories secured below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tuner itself is nice and small, measuring 2.5"L x 1"W x 0.5"H. Small enough to throw in a pocket when you're traveling.

 

 

 

The hard accessories that accompany the tuner are the HD Antenna for ove- the-air HDTV, a USB 2.0 cable, video capture dongle, coaxial cable adapter, and remote control. The soft side consists of the installation manual and installation CD.

 

 

Installation:

Hardware Installation:

 

Installing the XtremeTV HDTV 110 USB 2.0 TV Tuner couldn't be simpler. Find an open USB 2.0 port and plug in the tuner, or USB extension cable if needed. To watch over-the-air HDTV, connect the HDTV antenna to the tuner. To watch analog over cable, use the coax adapter to connect the cable. To connect any external devices (video camera, VCR, game system) that uses RCA output, the video capture dongle is to be used.

 

 

 

 

 

Configuration:

 

Installing the software that comes on the CD is a quick process. Cancel out of any "Hardware Wizard" windows and select "install drivers" from the splash screen. Make sure that the XtremeTV HDTV 110 is plugged in, then confirm the dialog.

 

 

Once the drivers are installed, you can move onto the software installation. Accept the license agreement and TotalMedia will install automatically.

 

 

Once the software is installed, the last piece of the puzzle is the remote control software. Accept the dialog for the IRReceive and it installs automatically. Restart the computer and you are done.

 

Configuration:

TotalMedia Configuration

Once the computer starts, open up the TotlaMedia program and navigate to the Setup page. Under the General tab you will be able to set up the TV tuner to receive the signal. Basic information is needed to set up the software. First, select your country, then select the available tuner and how the signal is recieved, then the software will scan for available channels. Since there are two tuners on the StremeTV HDTV 110, you will have the option of setting up the second tuner. Select the audio device to be used and signal source, then grab a coffee and scan for channels a second time. TotalMedia includes TitanTV as its EPG (Electronic Program Guide), and there is the option to use a different provider if you have one. The tuner is now ready to be used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is all that is needed to enable the TV tuner in the system. There are a good amount of settings that are available to tweak the software for everyday use as well as for the DVD/Video/Pictures/Music.

Specifications:

 

Interface

USB 2.0

Compatibility

ATSC (over-the-air HDTV up to 1080i, SDTV)

NTSC (analog cable TV, UHF & VHF)

Antenna Input

F-Connector

Video Capture Dongle

S-Video

Composite RCA

Stereo Audio

 

Features:

 

Testing:

Testing will be accomplished using 90% subjectivity (ease of use, functionality, picture quality) and 10% objectivity (system resources used). The subjective portion will be setting up a program to record, viewing it, and basic PVR use. Moving on from there, testing of DVD playback, video file playback, picture navigation, and music playback will be tested. Picture quality will be compared against the Theater 550 PCI-E card, and system resource reports will be generated.

Testing Setup:

 

Ease of Use

In the past I have used ATI's MMC (MultiMedia Center), CyberLink's PowerCinema, and dabbled with BeyondTV. The software and interface included with the tuner is probably the easiest to configure and use out of the box. The speed (save for scanning for channels) with the time from when the tuner is plugged in to when you are watching TV is well under a half hour. Then add in the time going through the settings to tailor TotalMedia to you tastes. There were no issues at all in setting up and configuring the tuner out of the box.

 

Functionality

The functions available with the TotalMedia software are the run-of-the-mill media center choices, PVR functions, DVD player, file player, photo navigation (with some light editing features), and music library. The nice plus is the inclusion of the TOGO feature that allows easy sync and transfer of files between popular formats such as iPod video, Sony PSP, Windows Mobile Devices, Creative Zen, SanDisk Sansa e200, and the Zen Vision. Unfortunately, these devices were not readily handy at the time of review, but look for a revisit on this feature.

 

 

Picture Quality

The picture quality of over-the-air HDTV is beautiful. I wish there were more HD channels being transmitted.

 

HD 720i Resolution

 

HD 480i Resolution

 

HD 1080i Resolution

 

Analog picture quality is lacking. The picture has visible noise throughout, and compared to my Theater 550 PCI-E, just looks bad. This is one of the only knocks against the XtremeTV HDTV 110, but considering 80% of the viewing will be via the analog connection, it is considerable.

 

XtremeTV HDTV 110 Analog

 

Theater 550 PCI-e Analog

 

System Resources

 

The XtremeTV 110 HDTV takes a serious chunk of CPU resources to run since it is coming over the USB bus.

Conclusion:

The Diamond XtremeTV HDTV 110 Hybrid TV Tuner USB 2.0 is an innovative device that would be very useful anywhere a laptop would be used (airport, internet cafe, long trips) where you could grab an HD signal over the air and have HDTV available. On the desktop side, the plus of being able to remove the tuner at any time, to free up IRQ's or just swap between household computers, is great. The accompanying software suite, TotalMedia, from ArcSoft, is arguably one of the best I personally have used and offers a quick setup out of the box, with enough settings to satisfy the discerning user. The one big downside has to be analog output with the visible noise generated in the picture that makes watching analog TV painful. As said above though, the XtremeTV HDTV tuner really shines on the go where you can grab the HD signal.

The screen captures of picture quality do not do it justice. The crispness and clarity of the HD signal was outstanding (especially for an USB tuner) and the sound clear and dimensional.

 

 

Pros:

Cons: