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Mustek's H140 PVR Delivers Modest Quality and Features

Low Price, Modest Performance And Some Disappointing Features

Video and audio quality is the hallmark of a good personal video recorder (PVR). After all, that's what they do for a living - if they can't get that right, they have limited utility. Unfortunately, though the Mustek H140 PVR is certainly useable, it isn't in the big leagues when it comes to video and sound quality. [Note: Images from the H140 display in this article are of lower quality than they are on the H140 itself.]

The H140 PVR has a relatively low street price, less than $300, and it looks good. It can perform a wide range of tasks, including displaying your photos, recording and playing your favorite music, and recording and playing videos from your camcorder, VCR, DVD player or TV tuner. So what's not to like? Well, the H140 display's contrast levels are not adjustable. To get good contrast you have to hold the unit at just the right angle. Sharpness is not bad, though on the video side it is highly dependent on the quality of the recordings you make. The unit's brightness is adjustable, but without matching contrast adjustments, images can look too bright and sometimes appear out of focus. The small 3.6" display is also not friendly to wide screen movies.

Additionally, sound is not a strong point of the Mustek device. The monaural speaker is very poor, and the included earbuds are nothing to write home about. You can get decent sound with a good set of headphones, but they do add to the size of the load you have to carry around with you and to the real, total cost of the PVR.

Ergonomics are another weakness of the H140. It's not always clear what functions go with what buttons, and the device is slow from a computing point of view. It starts up slowly and the on-screen menu system often functions so slowly that you find yourself pushing a button a second time thinking the first push didn't take.