Not too long
ago we reviewed LG’s stunning
23” LCD widescreen monitor which unfortunately we
already had packed and ready to be returned to the
manufacturer by the time we started writing this article.
Although the big screen was the most obvious attractive part
of the LG 23” “Media Station”, it was not only a gorgeous
monitor that we were going to miss but a multimedia station.
And to think, for a measly $2,500, I could have kept it. A
small price to pay for a multimedia workstation of such
caliber, don’t you think?
You might have to think again. If an
affordable multimedia workstation is what you need, you
could be saving that $2,500 and look up one of these
affordable units that also add TiVo-like options to your
system. They may not have the sexy looks, enormous included
monitor, or sleek lines like the LG unit, but they get the
job done. These are no frills units that allow you to watch
television on your monitor, or play an Xbox game or two. How
about a night at the movies, right on your laptop? Need a
place to connect your camcorder to, and record the video? Do
you like to pause and record live television? And guess
what? It’s pretty darn cheap.
We took on three different products for
this shootout, all of them external devices which should
offer extra versatility versus its internal counterparts.
The first is a unit from Transcend, which is called the
TV-Box. Next on the docket will be a unit from Digistor. And
finally, the largest of the bunch is the RTV VEG-N Video
Products For Me?
These products have the ability to turn
your workstation into a multimedia tool. The tested units
all have built-in television tuners, along with remote
controls which allow watching television on your computer
either on full screen or windowed modes. All products came
with software that enables the user to record live
television (similar to a Tivo), schedule future programming,
and edit for burning to DVD, provided you have plenty of
hard drive space available.
The space needed will depend on the
quality of the recording, which can be selected by the end
user. To perform these tasks, each reviewed unit comes with
its own PVR (Personal Video Recorder) software suite. As a
side note, you must have at least one USB 2.0 port available
in your machine, or you won’t be able to use any of these
All of the units reviewed here also have
external connectivity for input devices such as video
recorders, DVD players, or even gaming consoles. With this
you should be able to transfer old VCR tapes to DVD discs,
and edit unwanted portions if desired. You can also transfer
video from your camcorder, and burn it to disc. The units
all have the ability to be connected to a gaming device, but
only one of them offers enhanced resolution capabilities,
which supposedly enhances visuals in your Xbox or
PlayStation games. Here are a few pictures of the units, and
how they size up to one another:
Here’s where we start seeing bigger
similarities and differences between products.
As you can see, both Transcend and
Digistor products are touted as very small, unobtrusive
units that get the job done with the flexibility of an
The smallest unit is the Digistor,
followed by the Transcend. The largest of the bunch is the
RTV tuner which more than doubles the size of the others
although later you will find what all that space is being