The explosion of digital channels and the emergence of Freeview has been a boon for those of us who like choice, but much of the current technology has its limitations. Few products allow you to record one digital channel while watching another – most of today's boxes come with a single DVB-T (terrestrial digital video broadcast) tuner.

Devices such as Sky+ come with more than one tuner, allowing you to watch and record two or more digital channels simultaneously. But Terratec, the German audio and video specialist, has come up with a more elegant solution in the form of the Cinergy 2400i DT, a television card with two Thomson DVB-T tuners.

The 2400i works through CyberLink's PowerCinema 4.5 software and gives you an interface remarkably similar to Windows Media Center. Plug the device into your PC and you can watch one Freeview channel while recording another. You can also use time-shifting features to pause a live television broadcast or watch programmes with a time delay, allowing you to skip through boring adverts by simply flicking a switch.

The EPG (electronic programme guide) lets you plan your schedule in advance, and you can watch two channels at once with the picture-in-picture function. We think Terratec has missed a trick by not letting you record two channels at once, but we can't fault the picture and audio quality. Provided you get good reception to begin with, you shouldn't notice any difference when playing recorded media.

We found the card easy to connect, but you'll need to have a spare PCI Express slot. It's x1-compatible, so you probably won't need to replace your graphics card.

Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT: Specs

  • TV tuner with twin DVB-T tuners
  • PCI Express x1 interface
  • compatible with Windows XP Media Center
  • electronic programme guide
  • picture-in-picture
  • Mpeg2
  • allows recording to CD/DVD. Requires: 2GHz Intel Pentium/Athlon CPU with 512MB DDR RAM
  • Windows XP
  • TV tuner with twin DVB-T tuners
  • PCI Express x1 interface
  • compatible with Windows XP Media Center
  • electronic programme guide
  • picture-in-picture
  • Mpeg2
  • allows recording to CD/DVD. Requires: 2GHz Intel Pentium/Athlon CPU with 512MB DDR RAM
  • Windows XP

OUR VERDICT

If you use your PC to watch Freeview, you'll probably find this useful – the Terratec provides a number of functions you'd otherwise have to do without. You'll need a spare PCI Express connector, and it's a shame you can't record two channels at once, but otherwise this is a neat solution to an irritating problem.

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