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AVerTV Box 9 – Flagship of the Series of Portable TV Tuners from AVerMedia Technologies Inc.

November 17, 2004



Many manufacturers of TV tuners have been recently expanding their ranges of portable models, which can be connected between a video card and a monitor. For many users the drop of prices for LCD monitors and a relatively low consumers' price for a combination of such a monitor with a portable tuner compensate even for such cons as no video capture.

AVerMedia Technologies Inc. needs no introduction. We have already reviewed such models as AverMedia TV Box 3 and its successor AVerTV Box 5 Live. It's high time to meet the top model.

If you want, you may get acquainted with the retrospection of our articles on this topic.

Package Contents

Unlike AVerTV Box 5 Live, this box does not have a transparent insert. I cannot say that the box looks any worse because of that. On the contrary, it looks quite good because of the loud combination of orange and dark-blue colors.




The box contains the following items:




  • Tuner
  • Vertical stand
  • Infrared remote control
  • VGA cable
  • S-Video/Component YPbPr (480i) 2 in 1 Cable
  • Audio cable
  • AC power adapter
  • User manual
  • "TV by AverMedia" nameplate

Design and specification

Features different from Box 5:

  • Supports 1280x1024 resolution
  • Supports A2/NICAM stereo
  • Supports component YCbCr input
  • Multiple channel preview
  • Picture-in-Picture See-Through Translucent Mode
  • On/off timer

This device claims to support teletext in european countries, but either Russia is not a part of Europe or this function fell a victim of adaptations to our market.

You may have noticed that the tuner design does not differ from that of Box 5. Its dimensions (158x113x24 mm) remained unchanged, and so Box 9 is one of the most compact portable tuners.




The tuner can be installed horizontally as well as vertically (the bundle includes a vertical stand).

The front panel still houses audio-ins, composite video input, headphones jack, IR-receiver, and a tuner activity LED. Implementation of the component input resulted in the transformation of the standard S-Video 4-pin into a 7-pin connector.




The rear panel was not modified. Antenna connector (flush-mounted and extended with an adapter), VGA connectors, and audio in/out stay put.




The model range is certainly designed with due regard for manufacturing unification. Nevertheless, the new features of this TV tuner naturally resulted in some changes in PCB design.







Box 9 uses Philips FQ1216 ME/I H-3 HF-module (common for all models of this series).




Video processing is performed by a proprietary AV3003B processor.




Philips SAA7114H replaced the 9-bit Philips SAA7118E ADC from Philips Semiconductors supporting component YCbCr output.




A2/NICAM stereo is decoded by a separate Philips TDA9874AH demodulator/audio decoder, which is installed on the back side of the PCB.




We are also to mention an 8-bit microcontroller from SyncMOS Technologies Inc.




and a 2 MB memory module from ESMT.




Testbed configuration

  • CPU: Athlon 64 3000+
  • Mainboard: ASUS K8V SE DELUXE (K8T800 chipset)
  • Video card: HIS Excalibur X800 Pro IceQ II
  • RAM: 1 GB (512 MB PC3200 from Samsung + 512 MB PC3200 from Kingmax)
  • Sound card: Creative Audigy 2 ZS
  • TV- and FM-tuner: AVerTV Studio Model 307
  • TV- and FM-tuner: Leadtek PVR2000
  • HDD: FUJITSU MPG3204AT E
  • HDD: 120GB Maxtor Plus9-6Y120M0 7200rpm SATA150 8mb
  • Operating system: Windows XP Professional (SP1) ENG

We used Samsung SyncMaster 797DF (CRT) monitor in our tests.

Connections

Connection diagram.




3 RCA + S-Video 7-pin adapter is used to connect to component YCbCr and S-Video input.




Note that the component connection supports only 480i mode.

Configuration

Tuner controls and its peculiarities of configuration and channel sorting were described in the AVerTV Box 5 Live review.

All frequency channel scan helps detect all the channels regardless of their quality.

1280x1024 resolution is added to the proper menu item.




Nasty surprise – the tuner can operate in this resolution only at 60 Hz. When you set 75 Hz, 1280x1024 resolution becomes blocked.




The same thing when you try to raise the frequency in this resolution.




We have to admit that AVerTV Box 9 is inferior to Greenwood TV POP 1280S by this parameter.

Stereo sound options are specified for each channel separately, so there appeared another option in the settings.




Box 9 has a clock and on/off timer. Note that the time settings are reset, when you turn off power.




Picture In Picture

This function displays video from the TV tuner over a part of the analog picture from the video card.

"Picture-in-picture" is called using the PIP button on the remote control. PIP CH and PIP Pos. buttons remap the volume control and channel settings buttons from their direct functions to window position control.




When you press the PIP button for the second time, the PiP video becomes semitransparent.




Note that Box 9 uses only its video processor to manage this mode.

There are some drawbacks here as well. PIP is possible only when both the tuner and the monitor are set to 60 Hz. And unlike Greenwood TV POP 1280S, the video window size is fixed. Besides, when you press the AV/PC button in this mode, there will be no sound at tuner activation until you switch to the full-screen mode.

Multi-channel preview

The PREVIEW button on the remote control switches the tuner to the multiple channel preview mode.




The matrix consists of 12 cells and a larger window in the center. We have come across a similar Channel Surf implementation in the latest version of the software for tuners manufactured by Compro Technology.

Unfortunately, the sound is muted for some odd reason, when this function is in progress.

Quality

Video path of the tuner underwent no changes in comparison with Box 5. Video quality is on a good level. Enabled deinterlacing creates ghosting, which is however much easier to accept that the comb like effect.


   

   

   

Strange as it may seem, when rewinding a tape in a VCR connected to the composite video-in, we had a synchronization glitch resulting in a blue screen. Perhaps it's a peculiarity of our sample, at least Box 5 used to operate absolutely correctly in the same conditions.

Despite a casual look of the small-diameter VGA cable that comes with the bundle, we have no complaints about the picture quality on the monitor.

Infrared remote control

It's the remote control, which is used in AverMedia portable tuners since Box 3. It's powered by two AAA batteries included into the bundle.

Note that Box 9 actually uses PIP, PIP CH, PIP Pos. and PREVIEW buttons. Reminder – using the PICTURE button you can get a quick access to the menu responsible for video settings.

Conclusions

Though the 75 Hz mode makes it impossible to use "picture-in-picture" and 1280x1024 resolution, AVerTV Box 9 is presently the only available portable tuner that can decode stereo sound. That's why this product is honoured with the Original Design award.




Pros

  • Good audio and video quality
  • Good sensitivity
  • Supports 1280x1024 resolution
  • Decodes A2/NICAM stereo
  • Supports component YCbCr input
  • Frequency setup
  • Channel sorting
  • Individual colour-television system and audio settings for each channel
  • Deinterlacing
  • On/off timer
  • Multiple channel preview
  • Picture-in-Picture See-Through Translucent Mode
  • Localized menu
  • Compact dimensions

Cons

  • 1280x1024 resolution is available only at 60 Hz
  • Picture-in-picture is available only at 60 Hz
  • Fixed video window size in PIP mode
  • No sound in multiple channel preview
  • Sync glitch when rewinding a tape in a connected VCR (it may be a peculiarity of our sample)

For the time of this review AVerTV Box 9 is almost the most expensive model among portable tuners available on the Russian market. But by some parameters it's inferior to its competitors. For example, Greenwood TV POP 1280S offers the 1280x1024x75Hz mode and "picture-in-picture" with resizable video window. However, taking into account the all frequency channel scan (this feature is especially useful in case of complicated conditions of television broadcasting), individual colour-television system and audio settings for each channel, and A2/NICAM support, the price difference will not seem that excessive to many users.



Alexei Samsonov aka AlS (als@ixbt.com)

November 17, 2004

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