The package arrived today and the tuner card is up and running. This is a good product! The setup was a snap. The picture quality on my laptop 16:9 display is fantastic. The tuner is picking up everything OTA with signal to spare. The FM broadcast tuner is even picking up a huge amount of stations and sounds great. The card sits almost hidden in the ExpressCard slot. The antenna connector "snaps" in and out ok, but I can see the stress on the connector. It would have been much better if they used a right angle connector. I think it will be ok if I bend the cable and secure the other end to the laptop power connector to keep it from stressing too much. Still, one good bump on the connector and it will snap off.
Other than the connector concerns the card works very well. I download the latest dirvers and app from AVerMedia's site and upgraded all including the WMC driver. That leaves me with three apps to run the card, and each has it's plus and minus. The original AVer Media Center may be the best. The newer app called AVerTV 6 had some initial trouble scanning the ATSC channels. Each time I scanned, it picked less an less channels. A shutdown and rescan worked ok. The interface is not near as nice as the original app (AVer MC). The new app did add the ability to choose diferent recording formats like MPEG-4 (H.264). The AVerMC just has MPEG-2, which is fine with me. I see no guide with either although I may be missing something. I need to explore more on that.
I went over to give Windows Media Center a try. WMC setup (now sees the card) was very easy. The guide setup was a breeze, and it added all the channels in my area...even channels out of range, but that is fine with me as I want the ability to tune in a channel with a better antenna setup. I did notice one channel that was very local that did not get a signal. That channel turned off the analog and moved the digital onto the old analog channel. The guide does not know this. Another problem I am having with WMC is the volume never goes above 50. Why? I do not know. The other apps go to 100 just fine. I did record two HD programs and they looked fine on playback. When I looked for the files I noticed they were in dvr-ms format which I am not able to change. I did burn a DVD in video format and it took hours to convert and burn, plus the picture quality was no longer HD. I did not have enough space on the disk for the "data" format. Although the guide is really good, and it makes setting up recording very easy, I want my recordings to be MPEG-2. Maybe there is a way to get WMC to do it, but I have to investigate that more.
So the card is a good product and well worth the money. All works well...just watch the connector! No major bugs. Reports from the user reviews say that has all been worked out. I now have a great PVR and did not have to pay Tivo the huge fee! That is what I really needed, but I also have a great portable HDTV. This will even come in handy when the next hurricane hits!
EDIT: The EPG program guide on the Aver MC program is starting to populate on some channels (PSIP?). I also found a setup screen in that app that allows you to change file formats. You can do MGEG-2, MPEG-4, WMA, H.264, and even iPOD formats. It even lets you break a show up (span) into DVD or CD sized files to allow maximum file sizes to fit on your disks. I burned an MPEG-2 HD DVD in about 15 minutes. Playback was just as good as the original live program. This application is working well. If only it had the advanced features of the WMC Guide where you can program the recording of first run series and whatnot. WMC has other problems that make it a second choice. The bottom line is this low profile ExpressCard tuner card is a great product. If you are looking for a laptop solution, this is maybe the best option...especially if you want low profile where no hardware is sticking out. You get a sensitive NTSC (supports international standards like PAL), ATSC, FM Broadcast tuner and no bugs operation. I just wish they made the mini-connector to F connector cable with a right-angle mini-connector and slightly longer cable. That would solve the stress issue.