Dual Tuner Freeview - which one?


Standard Member
Hi all,

I'm looking at getting a dual tuner PCI Freeview card for my PC. It's a 3Ghz P4 with 1.5 gig of RAM and currently running Win XP Pro.

I want a card that will let me record two Freeview channels at once and not be affected by anything I might be doing on the PC at the same time (so ideally done in hardware rather than software).

I can spend upto £60 on this and have been looking at the Pinnacle PCTV Dual DVB-T Pro PCI and the Hauppage WinTV Nova-T 500 Dual Digital.

I was leaning towards the Nova-T, however have come across complaints of the card causing blue screening and also being too sensitive (momentary freezes on picture if there's a brief drop in signal strength). I already have a fussy DVD Recorder with Freeview that does this (but two Freeview boxes that don't!) so am keen to avoid another fussy device!

The Pinnacle sounds interesting but I have read some of the reviews online and found them to be less than glowing. :(

So, my question is what are the experiences of anybody who has either of these cards and, if they aren't good - can anybody recommend any alternatives for similar cost?


- Gord


Established Member
I have tried both of those cards and I am not impressed with either.

BSOD on the Nova-T 500 and constant problems (unable to change channels, software lock ups (I suspect Pinnacle drivers are responsible as it happens with multiple TV softwares) with the Pinnacle. I have tried two sets of drivers for the Pinnacle with no improvement with either. Re-installing the software works briefly and then the problems start yet again. It's totally unusable.

Not everyone has a problem with the Nova-T 500, it has been suggested that it is an incompatibility with a M$ USB upgrade that causes the problem. I would say that Hauppauge testing and quality control must suck big time if they failed to find and more importantly fix this problem after 12 months of reported problems. You will have to spend time trying to juggle IRQ's with the Nova -T 500 as they use a hell of a lot and loads of horrible Via USB drivers.

So there are none to recommend. I so wanted to like the Pinnacle card, it has things I like about it such as hardware power up with connection for the power button so it can power up the PC for Bioses that do not support it (my main PC does not support wake on PCI, my 2nd PC does). It does not require lots of resources such as IRQ's like the Nova-T either. My problem COULD(???) be an overload of signal but I have tried an attenuator to lower the signal level with no success.

I have a Humax 9200 that has no problems with the signal and I have experienced virtually no problems with freezing or blocking while watching/recording. I use my Humax to do recordings for my PC as no TV card (I have two and have tried 3 in total) works well enough. The only problem I have seen with the Humax is a very occasional loss of audio/video sync. This has been extremely rare (I have only noticed it once) so it is practically nothing and not really worth mentioning (only trying to be precise)


Prominent Member
You can try the Nebula cards, but you should note that they do not have any stable vista drivers yet. Their software is the best in the world in my opinion and if you want dual tuner solution, you can buy a master and a slave card, however, the software will recognise the two separate tuners and you can record multiple channels at the same time.
I have been using them for a couple of years and they have never let me down (apart from 64 bit drivers and vista support).


Established Member
I did consider the Nebula card myself when I was researching them but the tuner and signal lock was not reported to be all that good, at least not as good as the Nova T-500 and other Hauppauge cards.

Also the makers of the Nebula cards are yet again in some financial difficulty from something I read very recently, so how long will support remain?

The software is meant to be good however, far better than the software that comes with other cards but software can be changed, it is the hardware that is most important.


Established Member
I'm using a portable aerial on both cards and I get solid signal lock and quality.

But if you are near the Sutton Coldfield transmitter then that would be possible. Someone who is further away from a transmitter or whose transmitter is lower power than the Sutton Coldfield one (which is fairly powerful) might have a different experience.

I am not saying it was bad, just that some people had reported problems which indicated that the signal lock was not as strong as some other cards. But no PC card is all that brilliant, certainly no where near as good as a separate Freeview receiver as PC's are such electrically noisy things and TV cards are fairly cheaply made and not using the more expensive designs like high quality Freeview receivers.

You only have to see TV Rips to see that it is fairly common to find corruption in TV ripped using a TV card, you notice it as the programs used to deal with it cuts out whole GOPs which means loosing several seconds (often 4 to 9 seconds) for each corrupt section. So the TV episode comes out noticeably shorter. I have not experienced a similar problem using the USB to PC of my Humax PVR and I used to get a lot of car ignition noise where I am which effected reception using a TV card which made the programme unusable due to the shear amount of corruption. That was before I fitted a Margin Rising Device which is meant to reduce interference, but has created other problems which I have not got around to fixing (meaning TV cards are practically unusable)


Ex Member
I was keen on the Pinnacle Dual DVB-T Pro until I saw how much my two cards differed. The AGC on each card behaves completely differently to the other - one card gives a consistently reliable signal whereas the other one seems keen to push up the gain giving 100% strength on certain channels and a subsequent drop in quality. I can swap leads around and the problem always stays with the card. Amplifying or attenuating the signal makes no difference. The other card performs perfectly so perhaps there are some QC issues. I've found Pinnacle's drivers to be fairly good. Their software seems good at first, but after I tried to use it for a while I found it to be quite annoying (particularly related to the speed at which is operates). Hauppauge's software isn't exactly brilliant either. For any DVB-T card you should factor in having to try freeware alternatives such as MediaPortal and GB-PVR, or purchase a copy of DVBViewer.

The Hauppauge Nova-t 500 is probably your best bet. There are some BSOD problems (if you've manually installed updated Microsoft USB drivers) but I'm currently working with Hauppauge to resolve it. I'm not sure how good the support<->engineering communication has been on this problem, but they do definately know about it as of late-December. To be fair, Hauppauge aren't required to have tested with the newer usbehci.sys drivers because they aren't a general hotfix - they are one of those "intended to fix a specific problem only" type. But you're right, now that they know about it they should try to fix it, and I know that they will.

The VIA USB controller shouldn't really be an issue. Whilst it does use 3 IRQs it won't be doing much on 2 of them, and IRQs don't really matter these much anyway. You shouldn't be using VIA USB drivers - that will cause problems; stick to the Microsoft USB drivers (just don't update them from SP2 level! ;)).

Neither device is perfect though, and if you have two PCI slots you'd be better off choosing two Hauppauge Nova-t PCI cards or similar cards. The Nova-t PCI (single tuner) is the only card that I know I can trust 100% to provide a stable signal. This is what I'm using at the moment because I've been using these cards for nearly 3 years and they have always worked consistently. Weak signal, strong signal, they never skip a beat. Newer cards just seem too picky. Another positive point are the mature drivers, which have actually been corrected by Hauppauge themselves (a lot of newer cards use reference drivers from the chip manufacturer and rely on them to fix things), as a result of feedback from their testers.

As for Nebula; that is one to avoid at the moment. The software is very feature rich but development has been slow for quite some time, and they have had financial difficulties. I'm all for supporting British businesses, but only if they produce a product that delivers. As it is, you can nearly buy two dual-tuner cards for the price of one of their single tuners, and you will get better drivers etc. Two years ago the Nebula was best-in-class, but things have changed substantially since then. Even ignoring the problems of the company, I'd be reluctant to buy one again.

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