Its black styling makes the WinTV-HVR 900 stand out from the usual USB stick tuner crowd, ensuring that it attracts attention wherever you go. On the practical side, it accepts an ordinary antenna cable directly and comes with a portable aerial, too.

Lots of initial bonus points, then, but it wasn't long before we were taking them away again. Problem number one was that the manual pointed out that the aerial base contained a strong magnet and should be kept away from notebooks. Considering that Hauppauge is selling it as an ideal tool for notebooks, isn't this a little inconvenient?

Problem number two occurred when we started the software, were told the database couldn't be opened, and had to play around with data sources to get the program running. Not a good start, but it only got worse.

WinTV-HVR 900 comes with WinTV2000 software, which is very bad indeed. The Setup dialog is poorly designed and often hangs for seconds so you think it's locked up. When you do get the system running, WinTV2000 seems very unintuitive.

So to directly pause live TV, for instance, you don't click Pause, but rather a button labelled OTP, which means one touch pause. Not exactly obvious, and we've also just noticed that the Channel Surf button does absolutely nothing when we click it. Why? We've no idea.

Other problems include the lack of an integrated EPG; it's a separate application that's not easy to get working. The scheduled recording program is yet another application that relies on Windows Task Scheduler to ensure that it pops up at the right time.

Overall, the WinTV-HVR 900 is a good piece of hardware, but it's completely spoiled by the bundled applications. Avoid at all costs.