With HD-ready TVs still costing far more than comparable analog TVs, adding Hauppauge's $399 WinTV-HD card to your PC is a much cheaper way to check out digital television and HDTV. The easy-to-install card packs a lot of features for the price, with just a few small drawbacks. With HD-ready TVs still costing far more than comparable analog TVs, adding Hauppauge's $399 WinTV-HD card to your PC is a much cheaper way to check out digital television and HDTV. The easy-to-install card packs a lot of features for the price, with just a few small drawbacks.
The next step up the digital ladder
You may be familiar with Hauppauge's earlier DTV card, the WinTV-D, which was able to receive and decode HDTV signals. However, it couldn't display them at true high-definition resolution. The WinTV-HD overcomes that hurdle and displays any DTV or HDTV signal at its native resolution or at any of 12 up- or down-converted resolutions that you select.
The WinTV-HD's package contains everything you need. You get the PCI card, a CD-ROM with drivers and software, an infrared remote control, and a small IR sensor that you connect to the computer. The included pod cable offers connections for a second monitor or an HD-ready TV and an A/V input for a VCR or DVD player. To run the WinTV-HD system, Hauppauge recommends at least a 400MHz Pentium III computer with 64MB of RAM and either Windows 98 (Second Edition), 2000, Me, or XP. Our PIII 866MHz PC with 128MB of RAM and Windows 98 SE provided more than enough horsepower for the task at hand.
Installation of the card is quite easy; in addition to the photocopied quick-start sheet that comes in the box, there's an extensive, well-written manual in PDF format on the supplied CD-ROM, with plenty of photos to help novices install the card properly. In most cases, your PC should recognize the card and get the correct driver from the CD-ROM (our test unit came with software version 1.9). Before you close up your PC's case, don't forget that the card only has one audio output. For surround sound, you must change a jumper on the card itself to switch the audio output from analog to digital. Hauppauge provides instructions for this somewhat awkward step. Problems with a driver installation error on some Windows machines have been reported, but Hauppauge attaches an addendum sheet that shows you how to deal with this minor glitch so that you can complete the installation.