Taiwanese company AVerMedia is not about to set a new trend in simple, clear product names, but it will help you watch TV on your computer. The name AVerTV Volar HD A835M may look like the result of several very long meetings fuelled by gallons of coffee, but the product itself is delightfully simple.
The A835M is pitched at both Mac and PC users, with software for both platforms. It's slender, and should fit easily into a laptop, although it's worth remembering that if you knock it, you could damage your USB port. AVerMedia has thought of this and included a short USB extension cable. You also get a little aerial, with two mounts. One's designed to attach to your laptop screen, the other's a little sucker, for attaching it to a window or desk.
The software includes a driver to make the tuner work with Windows, and some viewer software, which includes the ability to tune in and store channels. It also allows you to connect to a site called SnugTV, which lets you watch your TV channels from anywhere in the world, via the Internet. Handy, although we had problems setting it up.
Tuning in all your DVB-T channels is dead simple, and takes just a few seconds. We were surprised that the included antenna was able to pick TV signals up at all, but it was -- a feat no other TV tuner, of any kind, has managed.
If you live in mainland Europe, you'll also be able to use the AVerTV to tune in HD channels, as the receiver supports H.264. In the UK, however, the device isn't compatible with our ultra-new DVB-T2 transmission system. AVerMedia tells us support for this is on the way for Freeview HD though, which is smashing news.
We liked the A835M -- the picture was good and the included software works just fine. You can record TV programmes too, which are stored in MP2 format for Freeview, or H.264 if the signal is HD. There's a built-in programme guide, but it's incredibly basic and not a patch on most of the systems we've encountered.
To use SnugTV to access TV shows over the Internet, you have to install some more software. We had some trouble with this, and it told us during the setup that our region wasn't supported. We weren't able to make this work during our short time playing with the device.
For watching World Cup matches while you're out and about, we think this is a terrific little device. That model name is a living disaster, mind. If we were in charge, we'd call this device the 'AVerMedia USB TV whoojamaflib with TV sharing over the Internet and little sucky thing that keeps the aerial in place' and be done with it. See? This naming lark isn't anywhere near as hard as these companies make it.