The best, and most interesting, thing about the AVerTV Vado isn't the USB tuner at all. It's the little high-gain antenna that's packed with it.

This cute little twin-set has a flat plastic signal booster that can stick on to any smooth surface thanks to the fact it has a sucker for a base.

Two telescopic aerials can then be pulled out of the sides and rotated around to find the best signal. It's proper old-school gadgetry at its finest - if best used while sitting near a window.

The cable is a little short for reliving childhood memories of making Dad wander around the room and stand holding an antenna next to the ceiling, but the memories are there, all the same.

Somewhat less exciting is the supplied tuner software, which is functional, if not particularly attractive or intuitive.

It can pick up digital radio as well as Freeview and Freeview HD channels, although annoyingly there isn't a signal strength meter to guide you into positioning the aerial before you try to autotune it in.

All of the essential features are there though, including timeshifting, scheduled recording and the ability to wake up your PC from sleep to start a recording. There's none of the more adventurous stuff such as series linking, though.

Still, it is much quicker at finding channels than Windows Media Center.

If you use a PC to regularly watch TV on, you'll be better off with an internal card that boasts a pair of tuners for recording and viewing two separate channels simultaneously.

If you're out and about a lot with a laptop and want something to watch on the go, the AVerTV Volar HD is a good way to get HD TV at a reasonable price.

We liked

The quirky antenna is a quaint throwback to days of yore, and the picture quality on the USB tuner is good for the price. It's simple and straightforward - and Freeview HD for £20 seems like a bargain to us.

We disliked


The tuner software is a bit dated and unfriendly, and the signal from that cute aerial isn't actually that good once you move indoors. There's also only one tuner, so you can't watch and record separate channels.

Verdict

TV tuners are very much a commodity these days, but if we had to pick one the AVerTV Volar HD would be high on the list.