Most helpful positive review
295 of 310 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2010
I've been using Media Center on a WinXP tower since 2004. My HP unit came with a built in tuner which could only receive analog channels and the 2004 version of MC that came with it only supported standard def TV. As the years passed, I was eagerly anticipating for a release of Media center that supported HD programming. Once that happened on Windows 7 (and perhaps Vista), I needed to find a tuner card that would work with it.
Over the years I would check release info on new products and read about one sad experience after another regarding the failure of available HD tuner cards on the market and issues regarding firmware, drivers, configuration settings, etc.
Knowing that most new technology needs a few years to get the bugs out, I didn't buy and waited. The last few months had me itching to try and finally set up a HTPC (Home Theater PC) system. When it comes to video quality, my assumption was that I'd get better performance from a PCI internal tuner card in a tower. Thing is, I don't have a new Windows tower but I do have an inexpensive netbook running Windows 7 Home Premium. As there's no way to install an internal tuner card I'm limited to using an external USB tuner. After reading the reviews on Amazon, I decided the Volar Max was my best bet (and at $55 I figured I could only go so wrong).
I remember going through error and configuration issues with Vista and XP in the past, the idea that this little flashdrive-sized gizmo was going to allow me to tune in analog channels, digital channels as well as actual hi res HD seemed suspect at the very least. I was dreading the thought of experiencing the usual whole night investment of getting a new peripheral up and running on Windows only to have it not work well.
I plugged the Avertv in the USB slot and it found & installed its driver automatically and quickly. It then gave me the option of installing it's own tuner/viewer software. I declined in favor of Media Center.
Now I can't say how this thing works with any other OS's but, with Windows 7 Home Premium, the Avertv Volar Max blew my mind. My laptop is connected to an LCDTV- I fired up Media Center, which found the Avertv right away. I selected it, went through the channel scan (like any tv) and was watching great quality analog & digital HD tv within minutes. It WORKED! And not only that, it worked without my having to do any manual installations or configurations. Windows media center rocks (and IMHO blows away Apple in this particular area). The picture and sound seems as good as any HDTV tuner I've seen built into HD televisions. I hooked up my HP Media Center IR remote and can now flip through channels, set DVR recordings, play music, etc. from my couch.
Maybe this shows my age, but I thought any kind of decent resolution tuner hardware needed to be relatively big in size. That this tiny unit does so much, so well and so easily is immensely impressive.
The age of HTPC's is definitely here.
Recently I've discovered Windows Media Center no longer picks up a lot of stations it used to- even if they are not scrambled or encrypted. Plus many stations in the TV guide listings come off as misidentified (Media Center says its CBS but it shows up as NBC). There are stations that my tv tuner can pick up but that Media Center cannot, I'm not sure if this is a function of the Volar Max or Media Center. It's possible that with software other than Media Center the Volar Max can still tune in all unscrambled stations. I noticed Media Center asking a new question during setup regarding protection of "premium" content. Not sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion this might have something to do with it. Right now, I only get about a third of the channels I used to with the Volar Max/Media Center combo as opposed to my TV tuner that still manages to tune in all my unencrypted channels. The TV signals are there, I just can't seem to have them show up in Media Center any longer.