Compro has used a traditional design for its VideoMate Vista U100 DVB-T TV tuner with a large RF connector on the end.

Although it only packs a single Realtek RTL2831U DVB-T tuner, the overall size of the U100 is almost identical to the dual-tuner from Hauppauge.

You may find it tricky to connect such a chunky USB device to your laptop, in which case the supplied extension cable will be welcome.

Packaged software

The styling of the Compro leaves something to be desired, as the body of the tuner glows with a flashing amber LED that burst into life while we were scanning for channels.

While we weren't swept away by the tapered looks of the VideoMate, we have to acknowledge that the perforated upper surface of the tuner ensured that it remained cool in operation.

There are two pieces of software in the package. Ulead Photo Explorer 8.5 SE can be used to organise photo, video and music libraries on your laptop. The TV application is ComproDTV4, which is fairly typical of its type, as it does a decent job but you have to put in some work to come to terms with its foibles.

Pausing TV

Once ComproDTV4 was installed we clicked the Scan button and waited a few minutes until the list of channels was populated and then we were faced with a black screen. Clicking what looked like the Play button had no effect, but once we figured out how to step through the channels we were able to watch TV.

Using time-shift to pause the TV show worked well, but resulted in unpleasant black lines all over the screen in box pattern, but once we switched over to Windows Vista Media Centre the Compro behaved perfectly.

The most interesting feature of this tuner lies on the credit card remote control, as you can use the power button to put your laptop into standby when you've finished watching TV. Unfortunately, you can't use the remote to start it up again, but even so, it's a neat trick for such a cheap TV tuner.