Diamond XtremeTV PVR660 USB 2.0 Power Pack Edition review: Diamond XtremeTV PVR660 USB 2.0 Power Pack Edition

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 7.0
Pricing Unavailable
Reviewed:
Updated:

The Good Plenty of connection options; great software package; includes cables.

The Bad Credit-card-style remote may not appeal to some; IR blaster not included; typical TV tuner image-quality problems.

The Bottom Line The Diamond XtremeTV PVR660 USB 2.0 Power Pack Edition boasts the best combination of features and quality of any external TV tuner we've seen, but it shares the same image-quality problems as other TV tuners.

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TV tuners housed in external USB devices have several advantages over their PC Card-based brethren. They're portable, easy to set up, and most importantly, don't require cracking open your computer case to install. The Diamond XtremeTV USB 2.0 is a comprehensive package of software and hardware for users who want to record TV programs on their PCs. The heart of the PVR600 is a USB 2.0 TV tuner box, but the $149 package comes with lots of bundled extras, including USB and S-Video, RCA, and FM antenna cables, plus a remote control. While the device's image quality doesn't match that of the best internal TV tuners, casual viewers will be hard-pressed to spot the differences, and the Diamond XtremeTV offers one of the better software packages we've seen.

The external USB 2.0 box is about the size of a small external hard drive or a paperback book. Its front panel features an illuminated power switch and RCA audio, S-Video, and composite-video inputs. The back panel supplies inputs for a coaxial cable and FM connections, as well as a USB port for connecting the unit to your PC and a DC power input in case you're using the XtremeTV PVR660 with a nonpowered USB port. An IR blaster is not included, but there is small remote receiver in the bundled that you attach to your cable box, allowing you to point your Media Center remote at the cable box instead of the PC. IR blasters are, in realty, a pain to set up and fairly useless, so it's not a big omission.

The bundled remote control is about as thin as a credit card and can control a variety of functions on your PC, including powering down your whole system. The sealed buttons on the remote are an acquired taste and may not appeal to all users.

The main upgrades from last year's Diamond XtremeTV PVR600 are found in the included software. The new model ditches SnapStream's Beyond TV and Beyond Media software in favor of ArcSoft Total Media. A Microsoft Media Center Edition clone, ArcSoft Total Media does a great job mimicking the simple interface of MCE, and it adds lot of functionality. Like MCE, the software can control your videos, music, and photos, plus it allows you to watch and record TV signals and tune in radio stations. Under the photo tab, you can perform simple photo editing, such as cropping and rotating, and even remove red-eye with a built-in filter. Setting up the TitanTV electronic program guide is as easy as entering your zip code and selecting your service provider. We also tested the Diamond XtremeTV PVR660 with Microsoft's Media Center software and experienced no problems.

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Where to Buy

Diamond XtremeTV PVR660 USB 2.0 Power Pack Edition

Part Number: PVR660RCUSB Released: Jul 1, 2006

MSRP: $149.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jul 1, 2006
  • Interface Type USB 2.0