Best Damned PC TV Tuner Ever?
Based on the Theater 550 Pro chip, the TVWE delivers quite simply the best-quality analog television images we've ever seen on the PC, rivaling the performance of true high-end home theater gear. It is the only add-in TV card with a motion-adaptive NTSC/PAL 3D comb filter, as well as a superior 12-bit video decoder for a more lifelike picture. Everything, including PVR'd content, looks better with the TVWE. Full on-chip MPEG-2 encoding (both audio and video) handles the recording, which results in better sound/picture, but this on-chip approach also gives your CPU a break. There's also 16 megabytes of memory to ensure full framerate recording plus natural-looking noise reduction, and all this without a heatsink or fan, for those who worry that a "Home Theater PC" might be too noisy for the living room! And to remove all doubt, this is the only PC TV tuner product certified by the notoriously particular folks at the Imaging Science Foundation.
A newer, slimmer, more versatile RF wireless Remote Wonder Plus—now with a range of up to 60 feet!— is packed along with the TVWE to control it all, including FM radio and DVD, with the bundled CyberLink PowerCinema (ATI Edition) application.
For those who prefer a more comprehensive single-card solution, ATI's All-In-Wonder X800 XT is their most powerful does-all video product yet. Built upon the world's fastest graphics engine, the Radeon X800 Visual Processing Unit, the AIW X800 XT effortlessly serves up TV/DVD, video editing, and high-end gaming, all from an easy install to a single AGP slot. Noise reduction, intelligent deinterlacing, and video playback acceleration are among its many skills, with the necessary hardware to display the results not just on a computer monitor (separate VGA and DVI outs are integrated, to feed two separate monitors at once if so desired) but also an NTSC TV or an HDTV. The latest design innovation, and much of the secret to its slender form factor, is the set of external, domino-like input/output dongles which can stack together neatly, providing easy access via composite video, S-video, analog stereo, and component video (interlaced or progressive) out and coaxial digital audio out, a great match for better home theaters. The video processing engine enables encoding and decoding of the most-used video standards, including MPEG-1, -2, and -4, Real Media, DivX, and Windows Media Video 9. The Radeon X800 XT Graphics Technology at the heart of the card—3D architecture with 16 parallel pixel pipelines capable of eight gigapixels/second fill rate in full precision—combine with 256MB of available memory and ATI's unequalled 3Dc image enhancement technology for impressive results even on large, widescreen displays.
As always, Multimedia Center; the all-bases-covered suite of audio/video players and more; is packed inside the box, with a host of sophisticated features which become apparent the more time we spend with it. TV-On-Demand television timeshifting and recording offers the ability to transcode and burn or save to portable devices for later viewing, the transparent Thruview live TV window allows access to the desktop while we watch, the newest VideoSoap filtering demonstrably improves the image quality of captured video (especially when creating smaller, low-bitrate files), and the dual-tuner /picture-in-picture functionality of mulTView when you add a TV Wonder Pro card alongside the All-In-Wonder. EazyLook puts all pertinent multimedia information on the screen in a lucid interface that can be seen across the room, should we be using the second-generation Remote Wonder II RF remote control included here. (No surprise, this is also the heftiest A-I-W box ever!) The updated ATI TV tuner adds FM-On-Demand, to perform feats like timeshifting FM radio, and even export it in MP3 format. Gemstar's GuidePlus+ is also integrated, the smart (and free!) TV listings software from the people who brought you TV Guide, allowing search-and-record of available shows with just a few clicks. The software bundle also incorporates some fairly sophisticated applications for video production/editing and the creation multimedia presentations, an outstanding value for the $499 package price. And the card itself sports an unusually snazzy gold finish, a real boost to the coolness factor should you have a see-through PC case!