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Watch TV on your PC -- now you need never miss a moment of your favourite soap -- and that's just one of the tricks Miro PCTV card has in store…



TV tuner cards for PCs have been around for a few years but until now they haven't attracted much interest for the simple reason that most of them cost as much, and sometimes more than 14-inch colour TV, and usually didn't work as well. Now there's a new generation of cards coming on to the market, like this one from Miro, costing a good deal less than a TV, in fact the MiroVideo PCTV currently sells for less than £60. In addition to turning your PC into a television, it can also display teletext, plus it comes with a suite of video capture and editing software, and if you buy it now, a copy of Actua Soccer 2 and a freebie wall poster.


The card is designed to fit into a spare PCI slot on a Pentium PC running Windows 95 & NT. On the card's backpane there are sockets for a TV aerial, audio, plus composite video and S-Video inputs. The driver software is contained on a CD-ROM, which also includes a video and audio capture utility called VidCon32. This can store both still frames and moving video, as AVI format files, with a frame size of 768 x 576 pixels. Also on the disc is Kai's Power Goo image manipulation program and Intercast Viewer, which displays pictures and images broadcast over the Internet.


When it goes smoothly installation takes only a few minutes, the instruction booklet and on-line manual on the CD-ROM are very good and contain plenty of useful information and advice so even first-timers should have no trouble with it. We had a bit of difficulty with it on a P233 machine running Windows 98 and in the end had to give up. We will be charitable and put it down to the fact that particular machine has a lot of legacy software plus odd bits and pieces from other PCI card installations, that it didn't get on with. However, we have heard that some TV cards, using the same or similar BT (Booktree) chipsets do require special driver software for Windows 98. If you have an Internet connection on your PC it's worth visiting the Miro web site (, for up to date information.


On our P133 testbed PC the card and software settled in without a hitch. When installation is complete the next step is to initiate the search tuner, which seeks out all locally available TV channels, after that it's simply a question of setting the screen size (a postage stamp to full screen) and sitting back to watch your favourite TV programmes. Picture quality is excellent, at least as good as a similar-sized TV screen, in some cases better. Teletext is sharp, it's a pity data cannot be directly loaded into word processor or spreadsheet applications. The Video capture facility can be used to create simple movies, on higher compression settings the quality isn't too bad -- okay for internet web use -- but too coarse and jerky for any serious movie-making applications.    


TV on your PC is bound to be distracting but what the heck, it's a quick and cheap way to get a second TV, and the video capture facilities could be useful.



Make/model MiroVideo PCTV


Guide Price £58


System Requirements

IBM PC-Compatible Pentium 90 or faster, Windows 95, VGA card (see text), free PCI slot, CD-ROM & sound card



TV/Cable tuner with external AV input, image capture, AVI video capture (AVI editing software included), teletext


Distributor Pinnacle Systems, telephone (01895) 442003,


Video Camera Rating


Fit one of these and you'll never get any work done…




ă R. Maybury 1998 1610



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