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ASUS My Cinema-U3100Mini HDTV Tuner E-mail
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Written by Mathew Thompson - Edited by Olin Coles   
Thursday, 15 January 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASUS My Cinema-U3100Mini HDTV Tuner
Closer Look: ASUS My Cinema
My Cinema U3100Mini Details
Testing and Results
Testing and Results Part 2
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Testing & Results

I was curious to see what range of computers could use the ASUS My Cinema U3100Mini. The box states that a Pentium 4 2.6ghz is required for PCs and a Pentium M 1.3Ghz is required for Netbooks, but that a Core 2 Duo is required for high definition video. Most testing was conducted on my main computer, which contains these main specs:

  • Intel E8400 @ 3.0 Ghz
  • 8GB (2GB x 4) DDR2 800
  • EVGA GeForce 9600GT
  • Seagate 500 GB HDD, 7200.11 RPM.
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit w/ SP1

I also tested this device on three other computers, a typical, low cost computer, a laptop and an HTPC using QAM. Their specs are as such:

  • Alternate Computer #1 (Laptop)
  • IBM T40 Laptop
  • Intel Pentium M 1.5Ghz (1GB + 512 MB)
  • 1.5 GB DDR 400 memory
  • Mobile Radeon 7500
  • Seagate 120GB HDD, 5400 RPM
  • Windows XP Professional w/ SP3
  • Alternate Computer #2 (HTPC)
  • Athlon 64 X2 4200 (Socket 939)
  • 2GB (512mb x 4) DDR 400
  • EVGA GeForce 7600GT
  • Seagate 250 GB HDD, 7200.10 RPM
  • Windows XP Professional w/ SP3
  • Alternate Computer #3 (Low Cost computer, Dell Vostro 200)
  • Intel Pentium Dual Core E2140
  • 1GB (512mb x 2)
  • On-Board Intel G33/G31 video chipset
  • Generic 80 GB HDD, 7200 RPM
  • Windows XP Professional w/ SP3

The first thing I noticed, when testing the TV tuner out is that antenna adjustment and placement is of paramount import. Research on the matter indicates that the hierarchy of antennas would be to have an outdoor antenna and then to have an indoor antenna as a second choice. Indoor antenna reception is far more tenuous and larger designs are typically used (especially with telescopic poles like those in traditional rabbit ears).

u3100-antenna.jpg

The included telescopic antenna that comes with the tuner is quite small, which makes it good for portability, but is not a great choice as a permanent fixture. The antenna tended to have somewhat weak reception. A larger antenna would work wonders for getting better reception. However, I was a little disappointed with the antenna connector on the tuner. It's a small plug that resembles that used by AC adapters, but its small size looks like it may be prone to breaking eventually.

u3100-antenna-usb-connector.jpg

When it comes to the digital signals and reception, you're not going to find the problems traditionally associated with TV reception. You're not going to have fuzzy or snowy reception with the audio going from clear to static over and over. Rather, when it comes to digital signals, you'll either have it or you will not. When you get weak reception, you'll find video drop outs (the video just stops or freezes) and sometimes video artifacts (color blocks, pixilation, etc). With an analog video signal, you could get away with small antenna in a non-optimal direction and still watch TV, albeit in a distorted fashion.

u3100-all-parts.jpg

Digital TV requires an appropriate antenna be connected and pointing in an appropriate general direction to function, else the signal will not be received in its entirety. This, of course, is not a fault of the tuner itself, but more a function of digital TV as a whole. The trade off is that digital TV signals require far less bandwidth.



 

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