The Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT is the first PCI-Express dual digital tuner TV card on the market.
Let's have a look at the card, for my test's I will be using Windows Vista Ultimate as my bench operating system. This is great for two reasons, Windows Vista will have a much larger Media Center exposure than XP MCE 2005 (as it's shipped as standard) and most importantly has native 64bit support in Media Center, this means that for the first time we will need 64bit drivers for Media Center.
The great news is, that even though Vista is not officially released yet Terratec have already got drivers available for the card, and even more importantly they have both 32 and 64 bit versions of them available.
Unboxing the card showed that Terratec have put some thought into the card, the box includes everything you may need, the card obviously, but there is also a USB infrared receiver and controller that will allow you to control Media Center as well as the included software.
Talking of which as well as the Windows XP drivers, there is also the Terratec Home Cinema software that has all the usual DVB-T features. There is however another great addition is the inclusion of Cyberlink's Power Cinema software, so even those that don't have XP Media Center or Vista can get the nice Media Center style 10 foot interface.
Both of the Micronas tuners are well shielded and the card only requires one antenna connection.
Installation into a spare PCI-Express slot was a brieze, and after downloading the latest drivers for vista installation went straight in.
To make sure all was working well I popped on the Terratec Home Cinema software and kicked off a scan for channels.
I was not expecting too much in the way of reception, as the antenna that the card was connected to was a standard analogue one, and I live in a class 2 antenna area. To my surprise the software brought back all of the major channels, and only a few of them had some partial stuttering. The Terratec software also had another bonus hidden, it includes a subscription to the TVTV program data service.
After all went so well with the Terratec software I decided to fire up the Vista Media Center interface.
On first coming up, and going into the TV settings Vista Media Center said that a new tuner had been found, so I clicked through the screens to set the card up. After the setup all the channels found with the Terratec software where available to me in Vista Media Center. Why was this so surprising? The card that I was previously using (a Hauppauge Nova T) struggled to get some of the channels, and just did not find some of the fringe channels using this antenna.
After setting a few recordings up in Vista Media Center so that the card would have to use both tuners at the same time, and inspecting the output video it seems that both tuners on the Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT perform just as well as each other.
I have been using the card in this PC for a month now with no issues raising there head.
To benchmark the Terratec I popped the Hauppauge back into the box and disabled on of the Terratec tuners, this forced Vista Media Center to use the two different manufacturers of card to record dual channel recordings. Both cards were plugged into the same booster/splitter box and the Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT clearly out performed the Hauppauge on every test, I even swapped the aerial cables round to make sure it was not a badly screened RF cable. This showed that the tuners on the Terratec Cinergy 2400i DT are certainly more sensitive, and as such are more capable of holding a weak signal.
That said after plugging both cards into my DVB-T antenna they both received and recorded all channels available in my area, however even then the Hauppauge showed more dropout and stutter issues.
I would rate this card very highly indeed, everything that I have seen so far is good news. The card is relatively cheap (around 70GBP / 130USD / 100Euro), performs exceptionally well, and has great support (Hauppauge, who after all are the market leaders have very few 32Bit let alone 64Bit drivers at the moment).
I would highly recommend one of these cards for your Vista Media Center project at a drop of a hat. I'm very happy with the one I have, so much so that it has replaced my trusted Hauppauge card.