STB's Desktop TV

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STB's Desktop TV

 

TV, FM Radio, Video Capture and Edit Delivered to your desktop!

 
   
This week we had the pleasure of testing a new product from the Industry Graphics Giant, STB Systems. I was more than happy to have the opportunity to check this board out, as I expected "the fun factor" to be high. In a previous review, I mentioned the notion that it pays to delight the customer. STB absolutely delivered in this area. Here is why. Let's look at the specs first.  
       

 


 

 
       
  • View TV in a scalable window, all the way up to full-screen
  • STB?s VisualReality? full-featured, 32-bit, on-screen ?remote control? software interface
  • Pick your own remote control interface design
  • Supports Closed-Captioning and channel-blocking for parental control
  • Control Brightness, Contrast, Color, and Tint for the perfect picture
  • S-video, composite video, and stereo audio inputs
  • Capture video clips in .AVI format
  • Save individual video frames as .BMP files and view them with new ?flip-book? technology
  • Full FM tuner capabilities: scan, seek, preset stations, and more
  • Plug-and-Play, only needs a cable to your sound card (provided)
  • Video-conferencing ready; runs with White Pine?s CU-SeeMe, VDOnet?s VDOPhone, Intel?s VideoPhone, Microsoft?s NetMeeting
  • Accepts standard video line signals (composite video) from a VCR or Video Camera
  • Accepts RF-modulated (broadcast) video signals form Cable TV or from a standard TV antenna
  • Accepts FM radio signals from a standard FM antenna
  • Accepts S-video input signals from S-video Camera or VCR for improved image quality
  • Cable-ready TV tuner supports up to 122 channels
  • Stereo Audio Input and Output connectors
  • Fully supports Microsoft DirectVideo and WebTV
  • Provides freeze-frame , frame-capture, and clip-capture functions
 
   

STB VisualReality? Virtual Remote Control

  • Click up or down through 125 channels or punch in a channel number on the numeric keys
  • Switch between TV, S-Video, and Composite input mode
  • Full FM tuner capabilities: scan, seek, preset stations, and more...plus choose your interface from several options
  • Multiple new virtual remotes to choose from. Pick one of many shipped in this box or download more from our web site.
 

 


 

 Our Test System

Full Tower ATX Case w/ 300W PS, Pentium 2 -333 Overclocked to 525, Shuttle HOT-649A Dual Processor Motherboard, 128 MB of PC100 CAS2 RAM, IBM Deskstar 14GXP 10GB 7200 RPM EIDE UDMA Hard Drive, IBM 4.5GB DDRS34560D 7200 RPM Ultra SCSI 2 Drive, STB Velocity 4400 TNT w/ 16 MB AGP Video Card, Metabyte Wicked 3D 12MB Voodoo 2 PCI Card, Monster Sound MX300 PCI Audio Card, Toshiba SDM1202 3rd. Gen. 4.8X DVD/32X CDROM, TNT Detonator Drivers, LanCity Cable Modem and Windows 98

 

 

Installation

This card was a total pleasure to install. I had it in the system and configured in Windows 98 in about 5 minutes. The card actually took an interrupt that had at least two other devices sharing on it. Regardless, the board installed and configured in Windows without a peep and it didn't make any other component in our system flaky either. The most difficult part of the installation for a TV on your PC setup with this card, will probably be getting a cable line or video antenna to your PC. We had a Cable Modem installed with our test site, so all we had to do was rig up a splitter and we were smiling and dialing. Incidentally, we had no compatibility issues with the Cable Modem running and browsing the web simultaneously, on the same line, while viewing the TV. That is what I call a delight!

 
   

Features and Operation

You'll recall I mentioned the "fun factor" of this card should be high and it was. I installed the standard set of utilities for TV and FM Radio reception and was very pleased to see all the "gizmos". Yes, that is a technical term. I am a serious "gizmo" guy and this board has more bells and whistles in its standard driver set, than you can shake a clicker at! For starters lets look at the remote controls

These are just two of the "skins" that you can have on your remote control. You guessed it right! Just as in the ever popular Quake 2, you can customize things with graphical overlays which give you a different look and feel. You can also use tool bars like this...

or this

 
       

The FM Radio control rocks like this!

These are just a few of the user interfaces that you can customize and make your own Desktop Entertainment System with. Now, let's look at some TV shots!

 
 

 

 

These are still captures done with the card's automatic image capture feature button that you see on the above remotes. Capturing stills was a snap (pun intended) and we could save them in BMP or JPEG format. The image quality for this card is nothing short of superb. This card has the best TV image I have seen on a desktop to date! You can also adjust color intensity, tint, contrast etc... We were able to dial in, a super crisp and vibrant picture, very easily. Nice swing huh? See that shot from the bunker at the bottom, I was all too familiar with that image! :-) You can also do quick freeze frame shots while viewing...

Just so you don't miss the pretty scenery !

 
       

In addition, for the couch potato in all of us, there is the "surf" feature!

 

The software captures stills for you on every available channel so you can see what is playing first hand! See that guy with the tie in the bottom row? I caught him sleeping sitting up!

 
   

I did mention this card was fun right? Additional features, like the video input, come in handy for taking home movie clips on your PC for email out to family and friends. Just hook up your camcorder's video out to the RCA video in jack on the card and your ready to take clips of junior spitting his strained peas all over the place! I know, I speak from experience (with the strained peas that is). The card also has an S-Video input for better fidelity in higher end work.

Sweet Sounds

We have been concentrating so much on the video part of this board that I forgot to mention the sound. An internal audio patch cable comes with the card. You can run it to your sound board's CD Audio Input or Auxiliary Audio Input. If you use the CD Input of your sound card, the Desktop TV comes with a CD ROM Audio Input connector for a pass through to your sound card as noted in the above image. The sound quality from all sources on this card was excellent. We heard Stereo Broadcasts in full stereo and the sound was rich and clean. The FM sound was excellent too. When paired up with our Cambridge Soundworks Speakers, we really had the roof on fire!

 
   

This board impressed me in every way that it was supposed to. There was not one down side of this board that I can report to you. It is a truly excellent product and performs well in every aspect of it's feature set. If want TV on your PC with Video and Image Capture. This is your card with FM to boot! I highly recommend it!

We very rarely give out this kind of score at Hot Hardware but the Desktop TV from STB earned a Temp-O-Meter rating of...

100! Scorching good hardware!

-Davo

 

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