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The Bundle

The PowerColor Theatre 550 Pro comes bundled with some AV input cables and an FM cable antenna, to make use of the extra functions beyond SDTV tuning. Also included is a remote control, and some media software.

The remote is provided by CyberLink. It's a very basic controller, which will provide very basic functions like program queueing and menu navigation. However there isn't much in the way of programmable functions, and there is no way to control the mouse cursor with the remote. If you want anything more than being able to use "Play" and "Next Chapter", you'll want to look at something better, like ATI's own Remote Wonder Plus, or the Snapstream Firefly.

The Software

The software is also provided by CyberLink - an unskinned version of PowerCinema 3.

PowerCinema is again, a very basic Media Center Application, and is provided in case you don't plan on using something more substantial like Microsoft Media Center Edition, which requires a full OS replacement. As you can see, it is designed to be used on a TV display, so the interface uses large, easy to read fonts.

Many features are missing when compared to Media Center Edition, or even 3rd party apps like BeyondTV and SageTV. If you want a program guide, you are given 1 month free, but must pay a fee after that. Furthermore, only one tuner is supported, so you can't add more and record two shows at once, or whatch another show while one is being recorded.

So while the Theatre 550 Pro sets you up with the very basics to get started, it is nowhere near a complete package. Most people will want to at least upgrade the software to one of the above mentioned applications.

For now, let's see how the tuner itself performs.

Next Page: (Quality & Performance)