It's not the tiniest or most interesting-looking of its kind, but it will fit snugly into a USB 2.0 port on your PC or laptop. A small plastic aerial fitted with a magnetic base is included (though, unfortunately, we could not receive any channels using it) and you can plug in a standard aerial feed.

Also attachable is all-in-one lead that features S-video and RCA jacks for external A/V capture (from a camcorder or VCR, for example) and an infrared eye for receiving commands from the remote control. The latter is small but it does the job well enough and the adapter responds well to commands.

KWorld's Hypermedia is the sole software application (the device will work with Windows Media Center Edition 2005) and comes with a choice of skins including a wacky cow option.

Analogue and digital channels are accessed separately. In fact, the two are exclusive in that you cannot record from one source while watching the other (or two channels at the same time). You can also opt to display video in full-screen, 4:3 or 16:9, change channels using an onscreen keypad, and use a snapshot mode to view in thumbnail form what's on nine channels at once.

Biggest omission

There's no MHEG-5 or teletext support but the biggest omission is a proper integrated EPG, save for a list of what's currently showing. Recordings are scheduled from a capture menu (also used for external sources) with daily and weekly repeat options and you can record entire transport streams if you wish. You can also set the software to bring your PC out of hibernation in order to record, and timeshift.

TV Recordings are made in MPEG-2 and you can record directly from external sources in MPEG-4. You can record audio only (in WAV or MP3) and convert and (unlike many similiar software packages) edit files afterwards. You can also burn the results to DVD.

The 310U performed very well on our fairly low-spec test system (an Athlon 2100XP with 512MB RAM); both recording and timeshifting proved relatively glitch-free.

The EPG is a disappointment, but if capturing, converting and 'burning' TV programmes is your prime reason for buying, you'll find the 310U a welcome budget-priced solution. Grant Rennell