Nuggets: Give your PC its turn in the limelight

Morph your PC into an entertainment centre... as long as it's a PIII

You've all heard of the TiVo and ReplayTV devices, machines that let you record, pause and rewind live television broadcasts. Well, as long as you live in the States.

MGI Software has come up with a clever little software solution that lets you do all that and much more. It's on a mission to turn that lumbering PC sat in the corner of your bedroom into the centre of your home entertainment system.

Diva, (Digital Interactive Video and Audio) turns your PC into a combined DVD player, television and video recorder.

One of the most impressive features is its television recording capabilities. Diva records a running stream of television broadcast direct to a PC's hard drive, creating a buffer of up to 90 minutes. This means that you can pause a live broadcast or rewind to an earlier point and then pick up again where you left off. Which could indeed "revolutionise your television experience," as the company brightly chirps.

The only exception to this is when you're watching stuff using Macrovision, such as Sky Movies On Demand, which prevents any copying of the transmission.

So in brief your PC can act as a video recorder -- a 4GB hard drive will store upto 1 hour of television. You can also transfer content to and from your VCR for archive storage.

Diva links up to MGI's Electronic Programming Guide (EPG), hosted online by Freeserve. This lets you choose shows to view or record in an easy-peasy sort of manner.

Another nifty little addition is the pan feature that lets you zoom in on any part of the picture, be it live television or DVD, at up to x8. OK, the uses may be a tad obscure at first, but there are some shows you really will want to zoom in on... honest

MGI reckons Diva could replace all the various black boxes -- DVD player, VHS player etc -- that are piling up in your sitting room. One obvious advantage of this point of view is that Diva, being a pure software solution, can be simply upgraded online. Which, if you're sick of chucking out obsolete equipment, is a significant bonus.

If the thought of all this has already got you thinking about emptying your sitting room of redundant pieces of black machinery, hold on just a second. At the moment the software is only available in the Advent PC range available from PC World, Dixons and Currys.

Apparently this is down to its reliance on Pentium III architecture. However the company expects that as this proliferates Diva will find its way onto the shelves of your local retailer.

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