Compro VideoMate TVGold+

Compro VideoMate TVGold+

  • Internal Analogue PCI TV-Card with NICAM/DualFM stereo sound
  • FM Stereo Radio
  • Software MPEG1&2, MP3 and WMA encoding
  • Stereo sound
  • ComproPVR (TV & PVR with time-shift)
  • ComproDVD (PowerDVD 4.0)
  • Ulead DVD MovieFactory 2SE
  • Ulead VideoStudio 7SE DVD
  • Philips Vtx Teletext
  • Remote control (batteries included)
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TVGold+ The Hardware

The hardware is about as fully featured as you can get for an analogue TV-Card. The tuner is a Philips FM1236 feeding a Philips SAA7134HL 9-bit ADC chip. The card has a standard layout with sockets for the FM aerial, TV aerial, external IR receiver (supplied), 3.5mm audio input, 3.5 audio output, S-Video input and a Composite video input. The card also has an internal sound connector and unusually, connectors to intercept the PC's power switch (cable supplied) for the card's 'Power up scheduling'. It's all very well labelled and the accompanying manuals are easy to follow with plenty of diagrams, pictures and photos.

The supplied remote is solid and is not just a generic unit thrown in. It's labelled to integrate fully with the TV/PVR software. All the cables you need to install the unit are provided including internal and external audio cables.

The Software

ComproPVR Software installation was simple and when first run, ComproPVR opens up the tuning screen. Sadly the TVGold+ suffers at the hands of the DirectX 9.0b bug. There is a patch available and Compro's website clearly addresses the problem. Unfortunately the troubles didn't end there as even with the patch, channels that were displayed were broken up. A visit to Compro's download page and a driver update (2.4Mb) and ComproPVR update (6.2Mb) fixed that. Disappointing that it didn't work out of the box, but understandable as the UK is one of the later markets to receive this product.

The ComproPVR application looks well polished and in operation was stable throughout. The channel tuning is a tad un-intuitive for beginners but generally not too difficult. The whole application can be controlled from the remote control and it is frankly easier to do it that way. ComproPVRThe recording and time-shift function take a few seconds to kick in, even on a fast PC but they do work well and are easy to understand. The codec and settings for recording are all highly customisable from within ComproPVR and the results are of very good quality.

The 'channel surf' function is quite handy in that it gives you a matrix of still snapshots from each channel so that you can choose which one to watch. Sadly it's a bit slow to update and the channels get moved around the matrix as it updates so it can get quite confusing. A nice eye-candy feature for showing off though.

TVGold+ remote control (batteries included) The unit comes bundled with Ulead DVD MovieFactory 2SE for making DVDs, Ulead VideoStudio 7SE DVD for video editing and ComproDVD which is essentially PowerDVD 4.0 with a Compro front-end. I didn't get to test the 'Power up scheduling' as my SFF case doesn't give access to the power switch cable.

Teletext is provided by the old Philips Vtx application from 1998. The great thing is, it's pretty much the simplest and most elegant teletext software out there. Unlike so many other teletext applications, it actually works! A very good choice by Compro. ComproFM the FM radio application didn't work out of the box but with an update was very good indeed. It's clearly very sensitive and picked up channels that I otherwise didn't know existed. The recording function is easy to configure and produces excellent sounding results.

The only thing missing from this whole package is an Electronic Programme Guide (EPG). ComproPVR has been updated to integrate with the TitanTV service but this is only available in the USA. Other customers will have to resort to 3rd party applications.

About Compro

Compro were founded in 1998 and initially produced products for OEM customers including HP, Compaq and Visiontek. They released their VideoMate TV-Card range in 2003. Support on Compro's website is relevant and the software is receiving updates, a very positive sign.

Conclusion

This is probably the best analogue TV-Card package I've seen. The bundled software is comprehensive, looks good, is easy to use, stable and integrates well. Add in an EPG and it's good enough to use as a PVR. The hardware is of good quality with an excellent FM radio and works with 3rd party applications including DScaler. Support is available from Compro and software updates are being produced.




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