|ASUS MY-CINEMA PHC3-150 TV-Tuner Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Accessories|
|Written by Dan Ferguson|
|Tuesday, 23 February 2010|
Page 3 of 6
Closer Look: ASUS MY-CINEMA PHC3-150
One thing I look for in product packaging is a clear listing of what to expect from your purchase. Too many purchases of poorly labeled packages have resulted in a piece of junk and poor customer service. The labeling is often a subtle indication of a company's integrity.
ASUS passes the packaging test with their flashy and clearly labeled box. Immediately I know that this card will support over-the-air digital (ATSC), unencrypted satellite and cable (QAM) and traditional American analog (NTSC). I also know not to expect results for anything else like PAL, SECAM, or radio. I also know what type of system I should be running to effectively use the PHC3-150. This card requires an open PCI slot, not PCI Express, so make sure to check your computer before buying the card.
Inside the box the hardware components are laid in form fitting plastic. Oddly, the software CD and instructions are sandwiched between two trays of plastic. Normally I expect to see the CD and instructions on the outside and the precious hardware nestled safely between the plastic trays, not exposed to the outside of the box. This didn't cause me any problems so I don't expect this to be a problem for anyone else.
Here is a look at the guts of the card. Two big metal boxes probably perform some type of reception, amplification or signal clarification before the real decoding work is done. Two boxes, presumably one for digital and one for analog. The signal then gets passed to the NXP chip on the top half of the card. A glance at the NXP features reveals potential support for 2 digital and 2 analog ports, HD, NTSC, PAL and SECAM formats, NICAM, A2 and FM radio, several audio formats, and a suite of video and audio enhancement technologies. However, this does not mean all those features are available from the card.
After the signal is decoded it is sent to the ViXS chip on the bottom center. Details on the XCode chip were scant, but as an MPEG encoder it likely supports conversion to various MPEG formats as well as time shifting and similar PVR features. All these decoding and encoding functions are supported by an on-board Winbond SDRAM module on the bottom right. Together these chips should significantly reduce the CPU and memory resources required to operate the card.
The back of the card is clean. This is probably for the best since nothing will snag on a neighboring card during installation. As far as card size goes, this one is big. It was harder to fit inside a normal case than most cards. Don't count on squeezing this one inside a case with a low profile or tight clearance budget.