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FlyTV Prime 34 FM (FlyVideo 3000 FM) TV&FM Tuner

January 18, 2004



Animation Technologies Inc. is not that well known as its LifeView trademark under which this company (founded yet in 1990) sells its products. Its solutions are not High-End, but there is also a silver lining thanks to the democratic pricing.

The model tested today is not new on the market but it's one of the widely available TV& FM tuners equipped with Philips713x 9-bit ADCs. The FlyTV Prime series (earlier named FlyVideo 3000/2000, prefix FM wasn't changed) includes models both on the Philips7134 (index 34, former 3000), and on the Philips7130 (index 30, former 2000), like AVerTV Studio Model 305. Be careful when making your choice. 

Accessory pack

The colorful box with abstract images of eyes and ears doesn't look that impressive.




The accessory pack is predictable.




  • Tuner
  • Remote Control
  • External IR receiver for RC
  • Sound card line-in cable
  • FM antenna
  • Software CD
  • Installation manual

The developers offer a software suite from Honest Technology which is also supplied with the Manli USB TV 2.0. It's named LifeView Suite




The components were renamed too.

LifeView Encoder (alias MPEG Encoder 4.0)




and LifeView Editor (alias MPEG Editor 4.0)




The DVD Maker is replaced with LifeView DV which can be explained by unification taking into account the FlyDV Prime models coming with the integrated FireWire controller.




Design and specification

This sample has the latest revision H.




The FlyTV Prime 34 FM is not the last word in fashion, and TV and FM signals are received by old Philips solution - TCL2002MB-1F.




Philips SAA7134HL is used to decode the signal.




The tuner's specs are standard, but we didn't expect any revolution.

Testbed configuration

  • Athlon 2800XP CPU (Barton)
  • Gigabyte 7VAX mainboard (KT400 chipset)
  • ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB DDR2 video card
  • 1GB RAM (512MB PC3200 from Samsung + 512MB PC3200 from Kingmax)
  • Creative Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 sound card
  • FUJITSU MPG3204AT E HDD
  • Windows XP Professional (SP1) ENG OS

Connection

The card has a standard set of connectors,




and a standard circuitry.




Tuning




Instead of the drivers and TVR software supplied we installed the latest drivers available on NVIDIA's site. Here you can find the list of corrected errors and additions, and a full list of models with the old and new names. 

After installation you get the following devices




and a scheduler icon in the tray.




The None option in the audio input source section enables sound transfer via PCI bus (it's supported in the Philips7134but not in 7130).




Let's have a look at the settings in TVR 3.00 (exactly with two zeros).




On the TV Settings tab you can choose between air or cable reception, enable autoscanning or input channels frequency manually, edit it, delete or resort to fine tuning. Country auto detection works correctly, as well as the other options in this section.




The outdated radio unit couldn't get one channel and received signals unsteadily, the manual input and fine tuning brought only the sound. There were no more problems, but a good antenna can be of much help here. 

TVR 3.00 has a new option of channel scanning by frequency using settings from the Fully Scan tab.




Video Settings are not new.



Here are Record Settings.




For the Honestech codec used for MPEG1/2 decoding you can select a resolution and a bitrate. TVR 3.00 supports MPEG4 through Microsoft's and DivX 5.1 codecs (older versions of the DivX codec are not supported). However, this support is limited by 352x288. But even such bonuses are rarely offered by other companies.

The Misc Page houses TimeShift settings, frame capture and Multi-Channel Preview.




The audio settings have a dedicated button on the panel.




Apart from choosing a source (remember that None means PCI audio transfer) and volume adjustment you can change balance and treble, but they are sound card's mixer's settings, and they have no effect on recording.




The most part of options which can be enabled with the 713X Chip Audio Settings button are not available because they are supported only in 7135 chips with expanded audio capabilities.




The only useful option is Preview (Analog Out) which should be disabled when sound goes through the PCI bus and the sound card line-in is connected in order to avoid echo caused by asynchronous audio streams.

On closing the program the TVR 3.00 icon remains in the tray.




Quality

When making screenshots we faced the problem with color described in the Manli USB TV 2.0 review.




Fortunately, there are a lot of alternatives for Philips713x based tuners, and we used probably the best one - Fly 2000 TV

The program will be discussed a bit later, and now you can see the capture settings.




Quality depends mostly on the ADC, and the Philips7134 doesn't let us down.


   

   

   

The sound is a bit muffled, but I would hardly have noticed it if I were not alerted. 

No screening problems. 

Additional features

TimeShift works both in TV and FM modes.




There's a combined gallery for frames captures, audio and video files, the full list opens when a new file is added. You can send a bmp picture or a wav file by e-mail.




Multi-Channel Preview (one more function that has different names)



can set broadcasting time for each channel and show several channels simultaneously, but it works only in the full-screen mode.




The schedule recording surprised us with the need to enter channels or frequency manually for recording FM stations.




Unfortunately, you can't make the PC turn off on finishing the recording.

For dessert, you are offered to change the panel look.




There's just one style supplied but it differs a lot from the default one.




You can manually modify it using the tools from the program folder.

FM Tuner

TVR 3.00 has the same interface for TV and FM modes, they can be switched with special buttons on the panel.




The stations in the FM mode are listed in almost 1MHz steps. However, the list can't be edited. I had to delete unnecessary stations manually in TvrSFile.ini in [CHANNELLISTFM] section. If you go this way, see that the number in line 'FM=' corresponds to the number of stations left after editing. Fortunately, you can edit stations' names.

Although the radio unit is outdated, FM sensitivity is ok.

TimeShift and schedule recording were described above.

The sound lacks for high frequencies (download a 20-sec fragment, mp3, 486KB). But it's not that fatal, and it's acceptable for listening to radio. Besides, Leadtek's tuners also have this problem. Also remember about the mixer settings which can improve it. 

Remote Control

 

The remote control is the triumph of stylistic minimalism. There are only essentials and the Power button to turn on/off PC. By the way, the company offers a special patch for this RC mode under the Windows 98SE/ME. The RC takes power from CR2025 3V battery supplied. 

Fly 2000 TV




This software suite is developed for Philips 713x based tuners. The Native mode is based on direct programming of chip registers, without enabling the WDM driver. But this mode needs the WDM driver kernel mode to provide for the DirectShow conception. It supports several remote controls and offers a lot of fine settings for 713x chips.




Fly 2000 TV has integrated deinterlacing filters, sharpness and noise reduction settings. Besides, you can disable automatic brightness adjustment.



Beside the PCI audio transfer Fly 2000 TV supports Volume from SIF function (audio capture from tuner's intermediate frequency. But this option is not supported for Philips7130 based tuners. 




Audio Input Voltage controls input sensitivity for different modes. If you reduce it, the volume level will get higher.

The scheduler and the support for all codecs including DivX for capture are also provided.

I recommend that you download the trial version (the registration fee is very low) of the Fly 2000 TV if you have a Philips713x based tuner.

The only disadvantage I noticed is that mp3 recording quality is limited by 24 kHz/ 56 Kbit/s. However, there are very few companies that offer more features. More about features of the Fly 2000 TV you can learn from here

Conclusion

Highs

  • Good image quality
  • Good screening, no noise or pickups
  • Stereo-On-TV
  • Audio transfer by PCI bus
  • BG/DK/I
  • Deinterlacing
  • Decent sensitivity in FM mode
  • TimeShift both for TV and FM
  • Multi-Channel Preview
  • MPEG4 support (though the resolution is limited)
  • Additional software
  • Moderate price

Lows

  • Outdated TCL2002MB-1F radio unit
  • Sensitivity problems in TV mode
  • Lack of high frequencies (audio)
  • Manual changing of parameters in the configuration file for editing a list of FM stations
  • Resolution limited by 352x288 for MPEG4 capture
  • No mp3 support
  • Sound card's AUX-in can't be connected
  • No options for turning off PC on finishing the recording

The FlyTV Prime 34 FM still looks competitive though it's not new. It can be a good choice for those who do not need impeccable sound and who have good conditions for good reception of TV signals.
 

Alexey Samsonov aka AlS (als@ixbt.com)
 

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