SnapStream's Beyond TV 3 - The Must-Have Home Multimedia Softwareby Andrew Ku on May 12, 2004 12:00 PM EST
Installation and Set-upBeyond TV 3 is available either by download ($59.99) or CD ($69.99), but the installation process is the same for both. Installation is straightforward, as long as the system requirements are met (basically, you need a "current" system and a TV tuner with Windows Driver Model, aka WDM driver support). SnapStream recommends a Pentium 4 at 1.4GHz, 256MB of RAM, a 32MB Video Card, 40GB hard drive, and broadband internet access. We would recommend something along those lines, but you probably want to invest in a higher clocked processor, since real time encoding, particularly MPEG-2, is taxing. As for the video card, something more mainstream in the 128MB variety is probably best, while a 120GB hard drive is a much better choice for those heavier into archiving and recording.
Broadband internet access isn't a requirement, but it comes heavily recommended by us. Beyond TV 3 comes with the ability to be managed from a remote computer even to the point of scheduling recordings while you are away from home. Functions like this cannot be accomplished easily with dial-up, since the connection is more easily dropped. The program guide within Beyond TV 3 still needs some sort of internet access to download listings, so dial-up can still meet the minimum requirements in this regard.
Set-up was reminiscent of ATI's Multimedia Center and is self-explanatory. The only thing that stood out was the option of selecting the remote control. You can get on fine without one (there is a mouse and keyboard only option), but it is a must-have if you are planning to introduce this to your living room. We ended up using ATI's Remote Wonder in our tests, but frankly, SnapStream's Firefly remote control looks to be the most appealing. Of course, we would like to see SnapStream add support for Remote Wonder II because it is our favorite remote control of late. We suspect that the support wasn't added because the Firefly remote looks to be made by Philips, who also makes ATI's Remote Wonder II.