The Leadtek's WinFastTV 2000 XP TV tuner is based on the famous CONEXANT fusion 878A chip also known as Brooktree 878A. As it's impossible to squeeze anything new from this chip the developers further improve software and add user functions, which are sometimes useful and sometimes useless.
This model supports the following functions:
The remote control works in an infrared channel. Its design is very flat, that is why it doesn't fit your hand ideally. The most frequently used keys are grouped in its lower part to be easily pressed with a thumb. There are too few buttons, and management of additional functions is not provided.
InstallationInstallation of the drivers and software was flawless. But when you start the program a first time a traditional window of channel settings doesn't not pop up. You have to open it manually. The settings are quite scarce. You can choose just a country, a frequency grid ("antenna" or "cable") and "Auto Fine Tune".
We chose "Russia SECAM" and "Antenna". It took less than a minute to scan, and the tuner found only two channels: TV6 and PTP-2. And while the former had normal sound, the latter had only a typical FM noise. They were oddly found on the 69 and 70 channels. The auto search found nothing in the cable grid. The "Auto Fine Tune" turned out to be useless, even harmful. When we enabled PTP-2 was lost. Just for comparison, my old AverMedia TVphone 98 found all 13 channels that lived in my antenna. It means that this is the tuner to blame as it has crippled frequency arrays. Unfortunately, the software doesn't allow for manual search of channel or direct input of frequencies. I tried some other countries and other settings and found out that with "Poland SECAM" the tuner finds 8 channels in the antenna. In the cable it finds 6 channels out of those 8, but no new.
CapabilitiesThe appearance of the TV tuner looks traditional. The only new thing is small animated colorful indicators in the right part of the main window and on edges of the other windows. But they have a decorative character and loads the processor uselessly. The number of functional buttons is minimal:
The SnapShot function converts separate frames into raster files like *.bmp. The name of a file contains a date and time when it was saved. You can't use this program for browsing files recorded. Depending on the VideoQuality parameter files can be saved in 320x240, 640x240 or 640x480.
The program lacks for such typical capabilities as PreView, TimeShifting, teletext etc.
Basic color parameters can be adjusted. Here you can also choose a signal type for S-Video and Composite inputs (one for both). There is also "Color Scheme" tab, but there is nothing to choose here:
The PIP window can't be disabled - you just can drag it away from the main one and it will become an independent window. Here you can change its size but you can't close it. Well, the way these functions are realized is somewhat confused and inconsistent.
The window of sampling parameters is clearer:
The MPEG-2 behaves similarly. In resolutions up to 352x288 it compresses without problems with any stream. But a file created at 720x576 could be opened with no means, though it has a normal size.
QualityQuality of a TV signal is not bad. Other tuners had it sometimes worse, sometimes better in the same conditions.
And now let's take a look at quality on the Composite and S-Video inputs:
As expected, this model can receive FM signals. Let's see how the tuner handles it...
Frequencies can be entered manually, for which you must click on the main menu with the right button.
Choose an audio device and its channel for the tuner's audio-out in the main settings of the FM tuner. There are all necessary settings for recording as well. The program records uncompressed *.wav files, Windows Media Audio (*.wma), and compresses into mp3, but only into *.wav files. While without compression the sound can be sampled at 44.1 KHz 16 bit stereo, quality for mp3 is limited at 22 KHz 56 Kbit/s stereo:
The remote control handles all main capabilities of the receiving part of the tuner. However, it's impossible to record, play and change FavoritesGroup.
On the whole, the FM tuner leaves a pleasant impression of a user-friendly and finished program.
ConclusionThe card is a good solution for home use for any average multimedia computer. In its hardware capabilities the tuner is similar to other models based on this chip, though the TV quality is a bit better and the number of channels received is smaller. The software disappointed me much. Instead of proper realization of all necessary functions the developers worked on decoration of the interface.
Remember that the manufacturer tries to distinguish this tuner placing emphasis on its operation under the Windows XP and on the picture-in-picture function. But if the former is actually obligatory, such realization of the PIP raises doubts in its necessity.
Mihail Androsov (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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