Television tuners in your desktop are great devices, but for the most part involve you having to dismantle your PC to get them working. But what if you have a laptop?
Terratec thinks it has the answer with the creation of the Cinergy T2, a small compact device that allows you to tune into Freeview channels via your laptop.
The small white box comes with an external antenna, battery-powered remote control and all the software you need to watch and record television and radio. Powered by a USB2.0 connection, the strength of the device is that you won't need to lug around additional chargers or batteries to make this thing portable. However for older laptop users, forget it - you won't be able to get video signal from USB1.1.
The strength here over other devices is the unit's ability to pick up Freeview channels (as long as you are in a Freeview area) that means you get access to over 16 channels for your money rather than the standard five here in the UK.
Software and drivers come included in the box, or are available for download from Terratec's website and everything is self-explanatory. The software as with most Terratec applications isn't the sexiest looking, but it does serve the job in hand. A preliminary scan is carried out when you first install everything and it will happily tell you whether or not you're in a good signal area or not. While the package does come with its own aerial, Terratec has been clever enough to make this a standard fitting so if you have got a television socket in the room you can always connect the device directly to it without need for special cables only sold by them.
Aside from the television application that pre-scans on set up and comes with an electronic 7-day programme guide. Also included in the box is Ulead's DVD MovieFactory 3 TV and Cyberlink's PowerDVD 5. Both programmes serve different needs but the combination of the two allows you to record what you're watching, edit it and then burn it to DVD (as long as you have a DVD burner). Ulead's MovieFactory 3 will even allow you to remove advertising blocks from your recordings before you archive them.
Overall this is a good piece of kit that really only lacks the final finesse to make it really worthy of a high recommendation.
Two pieces of advice to bear in mind though before you rush off to buy it. You will need to have a USB2.0 port for this to work and you will need to make sure you are in a Freeview area. While Freeview coverage is growing, it's not available nationwide just yet.