The push by manufacturers to bring the PC into our front rooms means there's never been more demand for good TV tuner cards. Compro has been making quite a reputation for itself in the TV tuner field and, following closely on the heels of the Compro VideoMate E700 and Compro VideoMate T750 comes the E800.
The Compro VideoMate E800 is a tiny PCI Express card (complete with a spare blanking plate for low-profile PCs, and a remote control unit) that offers a huge range of features, from the ability to watch both digital and analogue TV.
Compro is rightly proud of the DTV 3 tuning software bundled with the Compro VideoMate E800, and we've enjoyed using it. The interface is smooth, and the range of abilities stretch to allowing you to watch as many as four pictures at once – you will, of course, need a powerful PC to use such a facility, but it's good to have the potential.
Generally though, the Compro VideoMate E800 isn't particularly hard on your system resources. This is mainly down to the built in MPEG-2 encoding that relieves the PC processor of much of the strain.
Consequently, we suspect you could coax good results out of quite a modest machine. We would, though, like to see Compro at some stage introduce support for MHEG-5 into the Compro VideoMate E800.
The Compro VideoMate E800's video and audio capture facilities work well, and the card has all the regular features for time shifting, pausing and scheduling recording.
And since the Compro VideoMate E800 can power up your PC to initiate a recording, this is one of the more workable multimedia solutions available.