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Besides the novelty of actually being able to use a PCI-E X1 slot in your PC, there are no advantages to the use of the PCI-E bus on a TV tuner card. We won't hold that against PowerColor of course, since this version sells for about the same as their PCI version, and other PCI based hardware MPEG2 TV tuners.

On first glance, it looks like PowerColor includes everything you need to get a media PC going - a remote control and multimedia software are both included in the package. However, on further inspection, both of these are very basic solutions, and will leave you wanting more. Luckily, there are much better solutions out there, and you probably had them in mind going into purchasing a TV tuner anyhow.

Image quality is where the Theatre 550 Pro falls short. Compared to the Hauppauge WinTV PVR250, it exhibits a softer, more noisy image. If you want the highest quality possible on an SDTV tuner, the PowerColor Theatre 550 Pro falls a bit short.

However, since SDTV is so poor to begin with, this isn't saying much. You won't likely notice the poor quality of the 550 Pro, unless you are comparing it directly to a superior product that costs twice as much.

Overall, it's a good solution, and leaves some PCI slots open for soundcard and networking upgrades in your HTPC project.

  • Comes with everything needed to get started watching TV on your PC
  • Doesn't cost any more than the PCI version
  • Validated for Windows Media Center Edition

  • Software is lacking compared to 3rd party solutions
  • Poor quality compared to other tuners