For the purpose of this review I will be testing the Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT with the following system.
Intel Core 2 Duo 6400
Western Digital 80gb Sata2
Antec P190+1200 integrated psu
Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT
To test the Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT I will be installing it as per any other TV card and checking the features work and how easy they are to use.
Physically installing the Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT into the PC was no more difficult than fitting any other card, remove the appropriate pci blanking plate then plug it into the motherboard and fit fixing screw, easy as that. Once that was done I installed the supplied drivers and software, connected up the aerial and set about getting it up and running.
The software, once installed only needs a couple of mouse clicks to get you watching TV, this is done by opening up the supplied software, called Terratec Home Cinema, right clicking on it and selecting “OPTIONS” this brings up the following box.
As you can see there are quite a few tabs to click on but it is very easy to work out what you need to do. As you can see from the opening page you can make a couple of choices, like whether to use both tuners and all the CPU’s, and whether or not the card gets high priority etc. For now though we are interested in the “SCAN” tab.
Clicking on the “SCAN” tab brings up the following screen, the “SCAN” button bottom left of the box starts the tuners scanning for channels, and assuming you have a digital aerial connected and are in a location capable of receiving digital channels a couple of minutes later you should be presented with a list of channels, both TV and radio. Once finished, click OK and the card should be ready to go.
That is all you really NEED to do to enable you to watch and record TV / listen to digital radio, however should you wish to tweak a few settings, like how much time before and after a program you want recordings to start / end then you can set this up too by clicking on the “RECORD” tab.
This is also where you can choose where to store the recordings if you want them stored in a particular location. There are similar settings for setting up the taking of still screen shots under the “STILLS” tab. You can also select which codec’s you want to use for the various AV settings.
You also have the option of synchronising your TVTV account to the Terratec Home Cinema software to allow more freedom when setting up recording schedules.
The bundled EPG is a little basic and unless you record a lot of things then it should be sufficient. Personally I don’t have a tvtv account so can’t really comment whether it’s worth paying extra for. One thing that I did find frustrating to the point of being almost annoying was the fact that once the channels were tuned in they didn’t appear to be in any particular order, as you can see from the below picture BBC1 is on channel 7 BBC2 is on channel 10, now call me fussy but on EVERY other Freeview tuner I have used without fail the stations are all in the same place, BBC1 on channel 1 BBC2 channel 2, ITV channel 3 etc etc.
They can be rearranged but this is a time consuming affair and one that in my opinion you shouldn’t really need to do, although it only needs to be done once, until you retune, then it will need doing again.
In use the supplied Terratec Home Cinema works well, picture quality is as good as any other TV card I have used but, to be brutally honest, in my opinion it’s no comparison for Windows MCE. Which brings me neatly on to using the Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT with Vista MCE. After testing the bundled software I decided to use Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT within Vistas media centre. However this wasn’t quite as straight forward as firing up MCE and away you go, MCE detected the card perfectly and went through the motions of scanning for, and finding, TV channels etc but when it came to viewing them I was informed that "There is no tv signal detected for this channel" or words to that effect.
This was the case for every channel. I scoured the Internet for a solution and found there were a lot of users in the same predicament that hadn’t found a solution. So I sent an email to Terratec’s technical support and waited for a reply, in the mean time I continued looking for an answer myself which I eventually found in the form of a beta driver buried deep on Terratec’s website, I was also pointed to this same driver a few days later when I got a reply back from Terratec’s tech support. I installed it and sure enough Vista MCE now worked perfectly. Picture quality etc was as per the bundled software but MCE, in my opinion, is a lot nicer / easier to use.
Once I had all the software working I decided to install the supplied remote control. This went very smoothly, a lot smoother than I expected as I plugged the USB receiver in and Vista installed it automatically, presumably the drivers were installed with the tv cards drivers? Once installed you can set the remote up to control numerous installed programs on your pc, well launch anything using the supplied “TerraTec Remote Control Editor” software.
The default list is quite impressive, unfortunately I don’t have many of the programs installed, hence the little warning triangles below. You can add your own by pressing the “NEW” icon, the left most icon under the Menu tab.
Once you have decided what you want to launch you can assign it a position on the main page. Pressing Auto select installed the above.
The third tab, the options tab is where you set the colours and time of the pop ups that appear when using the remote.
Once you are happy with the settings pressing the “Home” button on the remote, the button with the house shape on it, pictured top left of the remote.Brings up the following screen.
Upon which pressing the assigned button on the remote opens the appropriate program, pressing 3 for example would open windows media player. A simple but a very impressive piece of software.
The remote works almost perfectly, all the functions work within MCE and the only thing I would have liked included was the ability to control the mouse pointer with it.
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