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Leadtek WinFast TV DV2000 TV&FM Tuner Review

December 17, 2003



The Leadtek WinFast TV 2000 Expert tuner leaves an unclear impression. On one hand, it integrates the 10-bit CX23881 ADC from Conexant and has a user-friendly user guide; on the other hand, the audio quality in the FM mode is not that good. 

At first I didn't want to test the Leadtek WinFast TV DV2000 tuner - its circuitry is similar to the TV 2000 Expert reviewed some time ago. The developers just added the IEEE1394 (FireWire) controller, but it's the digital video epoch, and such controllers are widely used today. Besides, the DV camera support is not directly related with the tuner. It's just a kind of a bonus.

But the tests weren't that useless. 

Accessory pack

In contrast to the small package of the TV 2000 Expert, this box is the biggest and heaviest I even seen among TV tuners.




Because of the DV interface the board looks like a full-size video card (except 3D monsters).

The box contains




  • Tuner
  • Remote control
  • External IR receiver for remote control
  • MiniDIN 9-pin splitter for external video and audio sources
  • Cable for sound card's line-in
  • FM antenna
  • Additional card with 2 IEEE1394 ports (optional)
  • Tuner installation guide
  • Software manual
  • 4 software CDs

The software suite coincides with that of the Leadtek WinFast TV 2000 Expert, except the Ulead DVD MovieFactory SE updated up to v2.5.




It's used for creation of VCD, SVCD or DVD.

The version of the WinFast DVD (WinDVD 3.1) is the same.




Design

The board size was already mentioned:




The design differs a lot from that of the TV 2000 Expert. Below is the FireWire TSB43AB23 controller from Texas Instruments which is often integrated into mainboards, and the PCI-PCI bridge from HiNT that supports operation of two devices on one bus.




The ADC (Conexant CX23881) is moved closer to the board edge.




Under the radio unit are connectors for brackets with additional ports.




I don't understand why they removed a connector for sound card's AUX-in, sound goes through the line-in. No comments.

The tuner's features are identical to those of the Leadtek WinFast TV 2000 Expert, but for the FireWire.

The IEEE1394 controller is standard and functions properly. 

Testbed

  • Athlon 2800XP (Barton) CPU
  • Gigabyte 7VAX Mainboard (KT400 Chipset)
  • ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB DDR2 Video Card
  • 1 GB RAM (Samsung 512 MB PC3200 + Kingmax 512 MB PC3200)
  • Creative Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 Sound Card
  • FUJITSU MPG3204AT E Hard Drive
  • Windows XP Professional (SP1) ENG and Windows XP Professional (SP1) RUS

Connection

If we add the 1394 controller to the standard scheme we will get the following:




The same is about the connectors (plus an additional bracket).




The FM connector doesn't make it difficult to install the tuner, but the antenna connects very tightly. However, this is the cost of the additional interface.

The 9-pin S-Video + 3 RCA adapter is used for connection of input audio and video signals.




Tuning

Fortunately, Leadtek accounted for the problems mentioned last time, and on November 26 the company released WinFast PVR 3.0.9.26 and WinFast FM 1.52. I do recommend them instead of the CD versions.

After installation of the tuner the device manager looks the following way:




the IEEE1394 controller was found by the Windows XP itself




Also, there's the WinFast Wizard icon for quick access to all programs in the tray




The WinFast PVR




now well works with the Russian frequency range, the channels are detected where they should be.




Besides, you can choose the Russia (PAL) standard for unique regions with this broadcast type.




Sensitivity is high as before. Screening is ok as well.

Features and operation of the WinFast PVR and WinFast FM were already discussed in the reviews of Leadtek WinFast Cinema and Leadtek WinFast TV 2000 Expert

Quality

Have a look at the default color settings in the previous version (on the left) and in the new one (on the right).


 

Now comes quality.


  

  

  

Quality looks decent. I don't even compare it anymore with the Philips 7134 :-) .

Sound will be touched upon a bit later. 

Image capture and processing

Xoro AEP-810 DVD player,  the War movie, 5 zone, PAL.

Composite signal












S-Video












The Conexant CX23881 looks perfect in the PAL.

Finally, the WinFast PVR supports MPEG4. 

FM tuner

WinFast FM benefits most of all from the new version. 

Please, compare the settings of the WinFast FM of the TV 2000 Expert at the moment of writing the review




and those of the TV DV2000.




The previous version of the WinFast FM played Mono with no other options. Quality in that case couldn't be spoken about at all. 

I must say that there are more lows even in the Stereo mode compared to Philips713x based tuners (download a 20-sec clip, wma, 353KB). However, it must please those who are not indifferent to audio centers with V-Bass, X-Bass and other such functions :-) .

Sensitivity




Unfortunately, these settings seem to have no effect on selectivity - the tuner has found 93 to 98 FM stations though we have only 13. Earlier it worked much better, and now I have to remove fake stations manually. 

Besides, while recording the WinFast FM sometimes displayed the following messages.




 
 


Well I look forward to new versions of the WinFast FM, taking into account the similar disease of the Leadtek WinFast A180 TDH Cinema

Remote control




There are no changes from the previous model; more information can be found in the reviews mentioned above. 

Conclusion

Let me omit the FM quality as this peculiarity might look attractive for some. 

Highs

  • 10-bit ADC
  • IEEE1394 controller
  • Good sensitivity both in TV and FM modes
  • No pickups or noise
  • Deinterlacing
  • Time Shifting
  • Picture-In-Picture
  • Convenient connection of external devices
  • Original and user-friendly tuner software
  • MPEG4 support
  • Rich additional software suite
  • Multifunctional RC

Lows

  • No full support for mp3 (compared to ATI, for example)
  • Outdated version of the DVD player
  • No preview for Snapshot
  • No Channel Surf
  • No connection to sound card's AUX-in
  • Sometimes recording in FM mode fails

Leadtek worked well on the bugs. It also concerns the TV 2000 Expert. Leadtek's tuners based on the Conexant CX23881 can be considered a good alternative for the Philips 713x based models. Taking into account the IEEE1394 controller and the moderate price the Leadtek WinFast TV DV2000 becomes a good choice.
 

Alexey Samsonov aka AlS (als@ixbt.com)
 

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