Opening the TV2GO 3.0 program (after you've installed it) will give you a simple remote-looking window with either the contents of your photo album or video album (depending on which one you select at the bottom) displayed on the right and a few shortcuts to the various TV2GO programs on the left-hand side...
The icons from the top are: the one that looks like a TV and a remote will open the TVR program allowing you to watch live TV or playback/record video, next you have the little circle with "avi to mpeg" which will open the MPEG encoder so you can change your recorded avi's to your favorite MPEG/DivX or other format, the next icon is a scene marker with some film coming out the side of it and this will open Gainward's MPEG editor, and lastly the built in CD/DVD-burning software indicated by an external optical drive. This last one will allow you to burn not only DVDs but also VCDs, SVCDs, and even Data CDs (as long as they only contain video files). The burning software is extemely simplistic, but you don't need it to do much so I don't really have any complaints there.
The encoder has lots of options so that you can really get a quality video in the end coupled with a decent file size. To really utilize this software though, and like just about any other encoder, you will have to do a lot of playing with the settings to get exactly what you want.
The editor also has a great selection of options to give you what you want. Now it's no Adobe Premiere, but then again it doesn't cost $700 either. So if you are just the average person who wants to put together your home videos of Christmas and birthday parties with some nifty little transitions and maybe some basic titles then this will give you everything you need and more. If you're an aspiring Hollywood film editor then chances are your going to want to go with something a little more complex.
Finally the meat of the TV2GO experience and probably the reason you would purchase a TV tuner -- the TVR program. Not only can you get this by clicking on the TV/remote icon, you can also access it by double-clicking on the icon that appears in the system tray. It's made up of two main parts, the control panel and the viewing screen. The viewing screen is pretty simple -- it's just where the video shows up and can be adjusted from 320x240, 640x480, or 720x480 for the screen size. In that same right-click menu you can also change the aspect ratio to either 4:3 or 16:9 and you can select "Always Top" to keep the screen visible even if your surfing around the internet in another window that might overlap the TV screen.
The Gainward TVR control panel has some obvious features such as the input selector on the far left, allowing you to choose between TV, Cable, Composite, or S-Video, the channel up/down buttons, the number pad, the volume up/down/mute circle on the far right, and the basic play/pause/stop/previous/next along the top. The more obscure buttons are the red circle which is for recording directly from the signal being displayed on the screen to your hard drive. The red triangle next to it initiates the time-shift mode allowing you to pause live TV. Also the buttons under the words "File Size" on the bottom-center are from left to right: Schedule, Property Settings, Channel Scan, Skin (which allows you to change from a blue background to a green one...wow), Snap Shot, Channel Surfing (which I'll explain next), and finally iEPG Site which just pops up a browser window and takes you to Yahoo's TV guide type site.
The bottom of the control panel slides open to reveal any captured video or snapshots which you can select for playback, deletion, emailing, or editing.
Now for what I thought was pretty much the coolest feature of the software: Channel Surfing. Not exactly the channel surfing you're probably used to though. Upon pressing the button on the remote or the one on the control panel you will be presented with the following screen...
Each mini screen, from top-left to bottom-right, will play for about 3 seconds showing what's on that channel and then the pause and then the next screen will show the next highest channel and so on. If you see something you like you just click on that screen and it will continue playing while all other screens pause. If you decide it's what you want to watch, just click it again and you will exit channel surfing and go back to the regular viewing mode. If it's not what you want then just click the "continue surfing" button at the top of the window and the surfing will continue where it left off. This feature seemed to work quite well, but you have to go through and program the channels quickly before it will allow for surfing, but once you do it won't have to ever again.
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