The MSI Digivox Duo is a USB TV tuner that turns your Windows PC into a Freeview TV and PVR for around £30.

That's right: thirty quid. At that price expectations are low, but barring the tortuous install, chunky design and clunky interface, the MSI Digivox Duo rocks.

The MSI Digivox Duo isn't snazzy looking, but it sports an RF connector, so you can run it from your roof aerial. This entails attaching a cable to your PC or USB hub, however, and the discreet portable aerial works well - reception permitting. More stylish is the slimline remote.

Installation is a pain, not least because you have to install drivers for the MSI Digivox Duo as well as a media app. It took us over an hour, batting away Vista drivers and wrestling with the media software, which didn't want to install. Eventually we found a download of ArcSoft TotalMedia and installed that using our boxed licence key - no set it and forget it here.

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TotalMedia is a less glamorous version of Windows Media Center. It works perfectly well and has all the requisite features.

Scanning for TV stations with the MSI Digivox Duo is a cinch, and TotalMedia orders the channels it finds using LCN (local channel numbers). This may sound insignificant, but not all TV tuners do this, and you don't want to be hunting for ITV1 when Corrie is starting.

You do have to scan for channels twice - but this is a good thing. Because the MSI Digivox Duo is a dual-channel tuner, you can record one channel while watching another or, like Grandad on 'Only Fools and Horses', simultaneously watch both.

Image quality is similar to other USB TV tuners, relaying Freeview's Mpeg2 TV broadcasts. In the interests of research we watched 'Match of the Day' using the MSI Digivox Duo. Subjectively, quality was good.

The EPG (electronic programme guide) is simple, and easy to navigate. It doesn't bombard you with information, however, showing you only what's currently on a handful of channels, and what's coming up on the channel selected. You can upgrade to a web-based TV guide, but this costs £15 a year - we'll stick to the Guardian Guide. And you can, optionally, branch out and use Windows' own Media Center with the MSI Digivox Duo.

MSI Digivox Duo: Specs

  • 51-858MHz tuning range
  • Transmission Mode: 2K FFT or 8K FFT COFDM demodulator (Fully DVB-T compliant)
  • Code Rate: 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 5/6 and 7/8
  • Guard Interval: 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32
  • Constellation: QPSK, 16QAM, 64QAM
  • Bandwidth: 6, 7 or 8 MHz
  • 2x Freeview tuners
  • USB 2.0
  • includes ArcSoft TotalMedia software, remote control, portable DVB-T aerial, USB extension cable
  • 31x11x103mm
  • 51-858MHz tuning range
  • Transmission Mode: 2K FFT or 8K FFT COFDM demodulator (Fully DVB-T compliant)
  • Code Rate: 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 5/6 and 7/8
  • Guard Interval: 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32
  • Constellation: QPSK, 16QAM, 64QAM
  • Bandwidth: 6, 7 or 8 MHz
  • 2x Freeview tuners
  • USB 2.0
  • includes ArcSoft TotalMedia software, remote control, portable DVB-T aerial, USB extension cable
  • 31x11x103mm

OUR VERDICT

The MSI Digivox Duo is not the most elegant-looking of solutions, but it will turn your laptop into a portable digital TV and video recorder. For the money, a bargain.

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