The Kworld USB 2.0 Combo TV Box is a PVR device. The Kworld website promotes this device as providing a way to display television on you computer monitor. This device is also able to save the tv programs as either MPEG-1 or MPEG-2, which would allow the device to be used like a TIVO and record and save TV programming for later viewing.
- USB 2.0 compatible Encoder box
- Watch TV on PC
- Video Inputs supported are TV, Composite and S-video
- Video input format :4:2:2 YUV CCIR-656
- High-quality real-time encoding (I-,B-,and P-frames)
- Export your final works to Elementary,Program,Transport,MPEG-1,DVD and VCD
- MPEG-1/2 capture of up to 8 Mbit/sec
- Audio capture of up to 384 kbit/sec
- Full TV frequency range for CATV/VHF/UHF
- Resizable TV-in-window – up to full screen
- Enable On Screen Display Function
- Built-in Video (Composite, S-Video) and Audio (Stereo) input connectors
- Provide user-friendly OSD (on screen display) to control functions
- Brightness/Contrast/Saturation/Color/Sharpness Adjustment
- Built-in microprocessor
- Full function remote controller
- Stereo input and Stereo/MTS/Nicam output
- Supports YCbCr Video input
Ease of use
Hooking up this machine is very easy. All the outputs are clearly labeled and easily accessible in the back and in the front. I really appreciated the fact that the Video (Composite, S-Video) and Audio (Stereo) input are on the front of the machine. This made it so I didn’t have to reach behind to hook up my camera or VCR. There is a coaxial input on the back, so you can just attach the cable and leave it. A USB cable is included and the connector is in the back.
Once the machine is hooked up, it is time to install the software. During the install you can choose PAL or NTSC format, and it also installs a demo version of some PVR software. During the install it would frequently ask if I wanted to overwrite a newer version of a driver that was already on my machine and replace it with the one from the disk. I like to keep the newer versions so I would always say no. Big mistake, after the install the software would load up and I would get a usb connection error. I spent about an hour trying to figure this out and nothing worked until I reinstalled the software and used the older drivers that came on the install disk. I should mention that doing this broke all my other usb devices and I had to reinstall their drivers to fix it. But reinstalling those drivers would break this device, so for now I left all my other usb devices broken so I could perform these tests.
The first thing I tested was the ability to watch tv on my computer. I stretched my cable to the back of the machine, turned it on, and started the software. The first thing I noticed was that the video was extremely choppy. I went to reference the user manual and found that the 10 pages they provided just didn’t contain any diagnostic instructions. I couldn’t find anything on the website either. Eventually, after exausting all my other options I went out and bought a USB 2.0 card and installed it in my computer and plugged it into that. There was a definite improvement in the video quality and I could actually watch something.
Recording TV was another issue. Turing on the record function nearly killed my machine. I should mention that I am running an AMD 1700+ with 256MB of RAM and 100GB western digital hard drive and a Radeon 9800 PRO with 128MB RAM. My processor usage went to nearly maximum and the ram usage didn’t seem to increase at all. I quickly exited out of all my other programs and that helped to keep the machine away from 100% usage. The picture was nothing to shake a stick at, I wasn’t expecting it to be crystal clear, but it seemed a lot more grainy than my tv was.
Another feature I wanted to test was the pausing live tv function. It only took the click of a mouse button to turn it on and everything seemed to be going well. There wasn’t any increase in cpu usage or memory, but when I tried to turn it off and watch the video I had paused, my cpu again went through the roof and froze up the program. I tried it again several more times but was unable to get it to work correctly, I assume that trying to play video and record video was too much for my computer to handle.
Unfortunately, recording from other devices like a VCR, had the same results as the cable tv; high CPU usage and grainy picture. Kworld could definitely improve the performance of this device by putting the MPEG encoding in the machine, instead of making the computer handle it all. The software was really not very good either. Some of the features were disabled because it was a demo version and there wasn’t any documentation on how to upgrade. After digging through filenames and doing some internet searches, I finally found the company that made the software. Honestech makes the software and their website even had a trial version of their latest PVR software. I quickly downloaded it hoping there would be some improvement. Well, I couldn’t find any improvement because the software wouldn’t work. I would click to start it and an icon would appear, then disappear. I tried all sorts of different options, but nothing else ever happened.
The design of this machine is good. It is very thin and stands tall, making it great for putting next to your monitor or tucked away behind your speakers. It has easy to push buttons and it looks good. The remote is really plain and has buttons on it that don’t apply to this device, such as the FM tuner controls. The user manual is pitiful, I know some of you think that a 10 page manual is adequate, but for this device it needs 5 pages just for trouble shooting.
If you are looking for an easy to use, hassle free TIVO like device for your computer then I recommend you not purchase this. If you want something that will hog your system resources and give you a big headache every time you turn it on, then this is the machine for you.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|