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AVerMedia has begun shipping just the card you need to connector your computer to freebie satellite TV channels. Its DVB-S Pro PCI card hooks up to your reception dish and get the kind of PVR and programme archiving features you don't get from the standard FreeSat box.

The DVB-S Pro hooks into AVerMedia's AVerTV 6 software and comes bundled with an infra-red remote control. Together, they provide picture-in-picture and picture-on-picture viewing, along with a 16-channel preview screen. AVerMedia claimed the combo finds channels and switches between then quickly, while the card's video processing chippage boosts signal strength for a "sharper and more stable picture".

The card can save programmes to your hard drive in MPEG 2 format, and it allows you to pause, play and rewind live broadcasts. It has a screengrab feature, and there's an album facility for index such stills and video recordings. Programmes can be archived to DVD and CD, AVerMedia said.

You'll still need a dish, of course, and you won't necessarily get the full range of channels included in Sky's £150 one-off purchase FreeSat package. Some channels, like BBC and ITV free-to-air services, are transmitted unencrypted, but others aren't, largely because Sky is providing free access as a loss-leader. Since the DVB-S Pro lacks a viewing card slot to enable their decryption, these will remain off-limits to the AVerMedia solution for now. In any case, it's still a handy solution if you're in an area where Freeview DVB-T reception is poor.

The DVB-S Pro is fully compatible with Windows XP Media Center Edition. Available now, the card costs around £50 inc. VAT. ®

avermedia avertv dvb-s pro pci card

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