Our labs are full of new products that are currently being tested and not all of them fall into the motherboard, memory, or video card categories. In fact, we are excited at this time as we have several upcoming reviews that will delve into new or recent product introductions featuring storage technologies, optical drives, home networking, input devices, cooling, and more.

With the official release of Vista now behind us our focus has been on developing new test methodologies and benchmarks that will accurately predict the performance of components under the new operating system. While performance is important, rest assured we will be taking a hard look at the compatibility and functionality of these products in both XP and Vista.

Besides Vista, the arrival of Quad Core processors and the continuing proliferation of RAID on the desktop has also affected our testing methodologies for motherboards designed for the workstation or enthusiast markets. These changes along with verification of Vista (Premium, Basic, etc.) support as listed by the manufacturer will reshape our motherboard review process and presentation shortly.

We have seen a heightened awareness or interest of the average personal computer user in using their PC for media centric applications. In essence, with most versions of Vista including native Windows Media Center capabilities that have been greatly improved over MCE 2005, suppliers are hoping for the PC to finally become a mainstream digital content appliance in the living room. While we think this is still a ways off or might morph into something different, the mere fact that you will no longer need to purchase a separate operating system for Media Center functionality should help move the PC platform in this direction.

In the meantime, most of the multimedia product suppliers have started introducing new products or are providing functionality updates for current products to work properly under Vista. One of our favorite suppliers of value based multimedia products for the PC is Compro Technology. We are currently testing their unique and impressive VideoMate V600 TV Box but have updates on previous products that are now Vista Certified. Let's take a quick look at them again.

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  • CorrND - Tuesday, February 13, 2007 - link

    Are you guys getting paid by Compro to review their products? I swear you provide more coverage for them than you do for much more popular products from Hauppauge. I'm not ragging on Compro -- I've used tuner products by Compro and think they're fine. I just wish you'd provide more belanced coverage. Reply
  • bob661 - Tuesday, February 13, 2007 - link

    I prefer reviews on products and could care less about what it looks like to the neurotic among us. Keep up the good work guys and don't pay any attention to these clowns.

    On topic. It seems that the Compro DVB-S card would be an ass kicker if it could decrypt DirecTV signals or allow the use of the DirecTV cards. It would be nice to have an all-in-one HTPC with an internal DirecTV tuner card.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, February 13, 2007 - link

    This is again a case of "we review what we're sent". Hauppauge unfortunately has not been very interested in sending us product to review, while Compro is more than happy to ship out review units. If Hauppauge shipped Gary some of their cards, I'm sure he'd be happy to look at them as well - and that goes for other TV tuner manufacturers.

    Part of the problem is that not a lot is happening with analog tuners, so most of the companies are content to rest on their laurels, at least in terms of hardware. I'm not sure when the last real update to any of Hauppauge's cards occurred, and ATI's Theater 650 is more than a year old (and really only an incremental improvement over the 550). There are still analog tuners that are pretty poor, but the top tuners can only do so much with a low quality analog signal.
  • pirspilane - Friday, February 16, 2007 - link

    I found the review and comments educational. Please keep covering products that enable viewing and recording HDTV. Reply
  • CorrND - Wednesday, February 14, 2007 - link

    I agree -- it seems that analog tuning and A/D conversion has reached a plateau with quality that they're not likely to improve upon. Most people receive digital TV these days (of any flavor) and with the coming EOL for OTA analog TV, the last bastion of analog only has about 2 years left. Investing R&D in analog TV products is probably not the best business decision right now.

    However, there are lots of interesting things happening on the digital side. Perhaps a review of a dual digital tuner like Vbox Cat's Eye eDTA-164. Or how about a comparison of PCI-e digital tuners between that Vbox card and the DVICO Fusion HDTV5 Express? These products are only a couple of months old and these companies might be more willing to send review samples than Hauppauge.

    Of course, this is all just time filler waiting for CableCARD on PCs....

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