Hauppauge has produced a long line of PCI and USB Freeview TV tuners, each with incremental improvements in signal technology. However we're yet to see the results that we'd like. The WinTV-NOVA-TD (Diversity: The Power of 2) is the latest USB storage device-sized tuner from the camp. It's a slim affair with similar features to the WinTV-HVR 900.
The major selling point of the new stick is the dual antennas, supposedly for the best Freeview reception. Picking up any Freeview stations on the hop still isn't easy, but with two antennas you've got double the chance - right? Sadly not: we found it struggled to pick up any channels in a strong Freeview area. How much this is down to the woeful WinTV2000 software, we're not sure, but reception from a standard house aerial is excellent.
Scanning for channels on a main aerial took about eight minutes to find 50 plus channels, as described by the manual. The moment we plugged the twin antenna into the USB tuner all signal was lost. Considering this is sold as a mobile product, a lack of portable signal is a real disappointment. Furthermore because the antennas are highly magnetic, it's bad for laptops to be around them.
Then there's the WinTV2000 software itself, which shows no improvement from the WinTV-HVR 900 days. Vista isn't supported out of the box; however, the update from the Web site was easy to install and worked perfectly. Unfortunately, a bug in the Vista driver code means that when you attempt to use the dual mode it won't work. A fix is promised...
At 80 pounds for little or no mobile Freeview signal, you'd feel pretty cheated. Despite a neat design and what are actually quite stylish portable antennas, the NOVA-TD's primary aim isn't achieved. That is, unless you plug it into a house aerial, but why you'd want to would replace your TV with a laptop screen is anyone's guess.