Widget-reviewing means watching a lot of pop-ups and base hits, but occasionally you see a home run.

TV tuners to put video on your computer screen have been around for years. And whether as cards inside the PC or external boxes, they pretty much worked _ but not so well that they'd take you off the regular tube.

So when an AVerMedia TVBox 5 External TV Device arrived, there was no rush to review it, and it didn't get hooked up to my home PC monitor until the middle of the World Series.

My mistake.

``Wow!'' was and is the reaction, and it certainly wasn't generated by Yankee baseball skills. After about five minutes of setup, the reward was a good, crisp, bright picture with a very easy-to-use remote control that let me toggle between PC or TV use of the monitor or use TV in a Window while surfing the Net.

The full-screen resolution is up to 1024 x 768. The sharpness and clarity are due to progressive scanning and 3D-Motion Adaptive De-interlacer, the company says. With my limited understanding of TV mechanics, that might as well be Welsh, but it does produce a fine picture.

If you're into that sort of thing, the tuner has a sleep-timer and favorite channel function, as well as controls for fine tuning and brightness, contrast, tint, color and sharpness.

Tuner and remote together weigh less than a pound, and the silvery tuner itself is 6.3 inches tall, 4.5 inches wide and an inch deep, so desk space isn't an issue. It comes with a VGA (video graphics array) and audio cable and will work with any VGA-capable display, whether or not its connected to a computer.

It will also drive a video projector with a VGA input.

AVerMedia wants to see $129.99 for the TVBox 5, and with a little shopping, you can get an ordinary 20-inch TV for around that, or an ordinary 13-inch TV for less. That prompts the question, why use this thing?

Two advantages:

_Space conservation, for places like dorm rooms. It has an earphone jack, which can help promote roommate harmony.

_Multi-tasking. As long as the boss doesn't catch you, you can work on the monthly budget report and keep up with the daytime soaps.

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Mention here of the Axis 205 network video camera said it sells for 199 euros, which is about $230, and it does _ in Europe. In the United States, the Swedish-traded company's product sells for $199 _ less than you'd pay if you bought it in France, say.

Now if we could just apply that practice to fine wines.

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Questions and comments are welcome. Send them to Larry Blasko, The Associated Press, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020-1666. Or e-mail lblasko(at)ap.org.