Installing the Cinergy T USB XE proved to be pretty straightforward. Connect it to your antenna with the full-sized port, plug the tuner into your PC and it's recognised by Windows immediately.

There's no need to cancel the usual Add Hardware dialog: just insert the driver CD, a couple of clicks with the mouse and it's done.

You'll have to install the TV-viewing software manually and then up pops the configuration dialog, ready to scan for channels. This offered more options than other tools, but somehow seemed less effective, with the default settings only picking up about half the Freeview channels we expected.

Increasing the scan intensity to 'Finest' picked up everything, but it did make us wonder if the tuner might, just sometimes, fail to find channels that were actually available.

Easy to use

Most of the bundled software we've seen in this review has been a nightmare to use, but Terratec Home Theater was very different. For example, an attractive EPG shows what's coming up for all your channels on the same screen. This enables you to schedule recordings in a few mouse clicks.

Time-shifting operations are easy, too. You want to pause LiveTV? Click the pause button. Need to record right now? Then click Record. There are tooltips for the more complicated operations so it's straightforward to figure out what you're doing.

Everything just works as you expect, so for instance right-clicking the screen displays a context menu leading to everything you're ever likely to do. It's a very comfortable application to use.

There are still one or two problems, of course. The teletext feature doesn't work in the UK, like most of the competition. Yet overall it delivers most of what we'd expect from a TV tuner at an excellent price.