If you decide that watching, recording and storing TV shows on your computer is what you want, you need to purchase a TV tuner card. The Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2250 is hands down the best TV tuner card we reviewed. It does everything you expect a TV tuner card to do and much more. This is why we gave it our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award.
When you install the Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2250 onto your computer’s motherboard, you’re essentially turning your computer monitor into a fully fledged television, but with much more usability than your average standalone TV.
This TV tuner card contains a dual tuner. This means that you have the ability to tune in two separate channels simultaneously to your computer. This is useful because it allows you to not only watch whatever channel you want on your computer, but also to record a separate channel at the same time. Granted, people have been able to perform this task since the early days of VCRs. However, doing it directly on your computer offers several advantages. Chief among them is that the recorded programs are stored directly on your hard drive. This means that the recorded shows are yours and yours alone; they are not stored by the cable company and are not therefore subject to the limits and terms of whatever cable company to which you subscribe.
This TV tuner card also has a built-in antenna splitter. This feature allows you to ditch the cable company all together. With so many HD signals floating through the air for free, this feature makes a lot of sense. If you don’t utilize some of the premium channels offered by cable companies, you ought to kick cable to the curb and attach an antenna directly to your computer. When you’ve done this, you have the ability to capture over-the-air broadcast channels to watch and record the best shows broadcast by networks like CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and more. In all honesty, those channels are where most of the quality content lives.
The Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2250 integrates seamlessly with Windows Media Center. This means that apart from the CD and drivers that come in the package, you don’t need any special software to use this TV tuner card. Additionally, this TV tuner card comes with an infrared remote control, so you can use it just like you would a normal television or monitor.
This TV tuner card is easy to install. If you possess even a passing knowledge of computer construction, it should be a piece of cake to open up your computer and install the Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2250 into an open PCI slot. If you don’t know what that means, or if you are not confident you will install it correctly, one of your computer-minded friends should be able to hook up your card for you. Absent that, just take your computer and card into your local computer supply store and they will certainly be able to install it for you in no time.
This TV tuner card is compatible with every iteration of the Windows operating system in wide use today. Compatible operating systems include the latest and greatest Windows 7 back through Vista and even legacy operating systems such as Windows XP. The only caveat is that you must have the Windows Media Center installed on your machine. That is not too much of a chore, since most computers come with this feature preinstalled.
There are a few other requirements worth mentioning. The computer you install this TV tuner card on must have a 2.2 GHz processor or faster. Additionally, if you want to experience the deep, rich, high-definition images of today’s broadcast television, you need to have a monitor that supports HD video. HD monitors are not as expensive as they used to be and are a far cry cheaper than HDTVs that only perform one function.
You also must have a PCI slot available to install the TV tuner card. You’ll need to have a sound card installed and a graphics card with at least 64MB of memory. Lastly, your computer must have a CD-ROM drive so you can install the software that comes with in the package of the Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2250. However, none of those things should be a problem if you’ve bought a desktop computer built since 2005.
The Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2250 has the best picture quality of any TV tuner card we reviewed. Every resolution and aspect ratio all the way up to the 1080i format are supported and displayed in their full HD glory.
You don’t have to worry about a degraded picture to fit a smaller monitor that some computers support. If your computer has only a standard-definition monitor, this TV tuner card will adapt the aspect ratio and resolution of the HD picture to fit your monitor with no visual artifacts or distortion.
The connection array on the Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2250 is the most extensive on any TV tuner card we reviewed. It has the obligatory female coaxial port so you can connect your cable or antenna signal. It also possess an FM radio connector so you can pipe your favorite radio stations through your computer to record and store all your favorite music and radio shows.
Additionally, this TV tuner card has an S-Video input as well as an auxiliary AV connector built right into the chip. Therefore, you have the ability to connect almost any device that sends or receives audio and video signals. Also found on the connectivity array is the remote-control connector, which enables the included infrared remote control to perform its intended function.
The breadth and scope of support that Hauppauge offers for the WinTV HVR-2250 pleasantly surprised us. On Hauppauge’s website, you’ll find everything you need to not only purchase the TV tuner card, but you’ll also find comprehensive installation guides and user manuals that can answer every question you might have about this TV tuner card.
Furthermore, Hauppauge offers a tech support line. However, if you live outside the 631 area code, which you most likely do, it’s a long-distance call. We would like to see the company acquire a toll-free number for customers looking for help.
Additionally, you have the option to cruise through the company’s support section located in its website. Simply click Support and find the WinTV HVR-2550 section and you’ll be presented with a wealth of information relating to the product, its installation, maintenance and much more.
Lastly, you have the option to fill out a Technical Support Contact Form. This feature allows you to email Hauppauge directly. It’s a simple form and shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you are clear and concise about the problem you’re dealing with. The Hauppauge support group will get back with you in a timely manner.
In the final analysis, we recommend the Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2550 because of its robust feature set, ease of use and simply outstanding performance. With this product, you will be able to capture audio and video from a multitude of sources including, cable, broadcast signals and radio frequencies. It’s easy to install and the company provides a full range of support options. We highly recommend this device for all your TV tuner card needs.
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