There are alternative sotware like BeyondTV or Windows Media Center.>>
(ATI's answer points me to the <Clearance> area of their store, but I see they have regular offerings in their store area).
I use Windows Media Center included with Vista Premium. Without adding any software driver from ATI, my TV Wonder 650 PCI works very well for the TV function. I was looking for the ATI software because it seems to be the only solution to capture video from the sVideo connector. I am hesitant to buy from ATI for two reasons: while their hardware is great, their software quality is terrible and their support perhaps worse... I do not know if their software will run on my 64 bit Vista, and have doubts.
You have to go to the OEM (Sapphire in Zmans case) and get it from them or else buy it from ATi.
The reason is simple, there is paid for software included in the package that ATi has to license from others, so they don't give it away to everyone. This is the case for all IHVs, the OEM who sold you the end product has to verify your hardware/purchase and then provide you with the software, not the chip maker (going to ask Broadmcomm for software?), the only time it would be ATi would be if you bought it directly from ATi's store, then they would require your hardware information to confirm paying for the licensed material. I had to do that for an old TV wonder.
A little trick though, if you bought an OEM edition with only basic drivers on the cd that came with it, you may still be able to get the software, the thing is to look at the install script by Sapphire and see if it has an OEM flag, and then change that and see what happens. I have found in the past that changing that opens up access in the install to things like DVD-MPEG decoding software, basic editing/tweaking software, etc. And it's for the same reason, they don't want you (actually must try not to allow you) installing it if you haven't paid for the licensed software.
I am hesitant to buy from ATI for two reasons: while their hardware is great, their software quality is terrible and their support perhaps worse... I do not know if their software will run on my 64 bit Vista, and have doubts.
Well you obviously haven't used other companies' software much then either. nV's TV/Video capture software was actually worse, and while Hauppauge is good, they also had issues early in the Vista era. But of all of them out there ATi and Hauppauge are the best and are also the ones who have put the most into Vista compatible software support (after alot of initial problems due to the M$ vs IHV fighting on drivers/DRM/etc. Try other companies' hardware and you're in for a shock as to what crap sofware really looks like.
3rd party apps are always helpful and can do many things better, Windows MC is just very basic and doesn't offer you much in the area of tweaking and customization (like no QAM tweaks). For both my old ATi 650 and my new Hauppauge 1500 I use BeyondTV simply because I'm used to it as a platform agnostic tool and it works much better than M$ MC, but it's also not 'technically' free so you're no longer comparing apples to apples either.
Another problem is that we are used to getting regular updates on our software but things are a little different with the ATI CMC. I figured that the CMC that came with my Card was old and chucked it (the disk) but I made a mistake. Imagine that the CMC is part of the Hardware. When you update the drivers you're updating the CMC. It's really easy to find the original CMC if you just spend some time looking for it. There is a actual link on the AMD Forum Website. After that you just update the Theater Drivers to the latest ones.
Link with lot's of good info: http://visiontek.com/teksupport/faq/TVWHD_cmm_faq.html
EDIT OOPS I MADE A MISTAKE THERE IS A MINOR Patch **** To make the CMC version that came with the TV Wonder 650 Combo & others (version 1.0.3202) to version 1.0.4310. I installed & tested it on a Vista Ultimate machine & I'm this second installing it on an XP system....but SO Far i've seen little change (maybe a few less lock ups or freezes, need more time for testing on Vista & i'm just scanning for channels on XP)......
The "update" that's available for CMC Power Cinema through the link spoken about is for an OLDER version (Power Cinema 3) for what comes with the TV Wonder 650 & Elite/550 cards...so not much help there as the TV Wonder 650 Combo ships with CMC 1.0.3202 which is ~ Cyberlink PowerCinema 4 plus CMC has a few extras, so unless you want to go BACKWARDS and i don't recommend that since the NEWEST CMC provided with TV wonder 650 Combo is BAD ENOUGH!!! [[[CAVEAT unless there is some new not posted on The Green Button or Rage 3D recent update release that i'm just not aware of, but I search quite often and i've seen nothing new in CMC land for a LONG TIME]]].****SEE EDIT ABOVE there is a Minor patch but even that is hard to get at on ATI's site (WTH). Here's a link that should help: http://www.rage3d.com/board/showthread.php?t=33939643
==The drivers for the TV wonder do not update CMC power cinema's bugs and poor functionality.***Don't get too excited but see top of posting*** When the bugs are / were caused by the drivers then yes something is improved but CMC has it's own independent BUGS, CRASHES & LOCK UPS just trying to run in Vista, lesser so in XP. It's not like getting an update to the actual Power Cinema version 5/6 what ever's current now is.
=If you want a better functioning QAM setup and already have Vista Premium or Ultimate then finding ((on Bit torrent or P2P sites)) the Vista TV Media Pack "Fiji" and installing it; ((CAVEAT PLEASE READ CAREFULLY ON THE GREEN BUTTON ABOUT IT, DON'T GO WILLY NILLY INTO IT)) which will enable QAM functionality right in Vista Media Center. It doesn't work on or for MCE2005, or XP though. If you want QAM there with the TV Wonder 650 you'll have to use GB-PVR (free) or something paid like Beyond TV 4.9 which. SageTv also seems to list TV Wonder 650 & QAM but i've yet to try out eithers. I will within the month. Unfortunately microsoft only released "fiji" the TV Media Pack to specific OEM - Boxed builders like Dell. But it leaked out onto the internet and continues to be there. Microsoft has issued several updates for it, that once you have the TV pack installed windows update will detect that & offer you the updates....
It's a shame that CMC didn't include that functionality (QAM in XP) in there software or at least continue to offer support/updates for it to fix problems in a timely manner and expand functionality.
-Also I have a love & hate relationship after having weathered the MMC disaster(s) and then final abandonment....but AVerMedia and HDHomerun have there $#1+ together and have released originally in seperate BETA programs to trick Vista (long before the TV Media Pack that enables QAM in Vista came out) long story short into displaying QAM. There seperate programs have matured very well and give them a LARGE advantage over ATI & Hauppauge; which have not put anything like this out nor have they hinted that any such driver is coming. The TV Pack is not without it's problems or undesireable changes so it's not quite the end all be all but at least it's now seemless and I have excellent QAM support (albeit only on Vista Only) for my three ATI TV Wonder 650 combo's.
CMC did a VERY POOR job of finding digital QAM64 and HD QAM256 channels as well as digital music channels after several scanning attempts. It found a total of one HD channel and displayed it like it was a fuzzy bright cartoon (like an Andy W. affect). It sometimes would find a few music channels other times none, and it missed many of the SD digital channels. This was usinga quality RG-6 Cable stright from the wall source no splits (I disconected everything else because I thought signal loss maybe at issue NOPE faired NO BETTER ---VS--- Vista Media Center pulling in All the HD channels, SD channels and digital music from the same RG-6 cable but split first from a 2way and split that goes into a 4way splitter & then gets it's feed from a 5 way splitter LOL, with No amplification and it still picks everything up in crystal clear quality.
So for the person stating that ATI is strongest or any sort of a LEADER in this area... Simply not true. There hardware has always been TOP NOTCH in these regards, coming from someone who lives & dies by his ATI AIW cards....but support (lack there of) and problems they don't address, facts they like to hide or gloss over, have always dragged down ATI.
If "they" expect us to PAY for software like Beyond TV that brings in full functionality then they need to price accordingly (as calling the TV Wonder 650 QAM supported in Vista) WAS about as close to a LIE as you could come.... If it weren't for the TV Pack it would have required an additional purchase, b/c as I said ATI's CMC version just isn't up to the task of tuning in QAM (again misses too many and no XP functionality). If I had it to do it all over again I might have still bought ONE, but i'd have spent the rest of my money on AVerMedia's QAM ready ==> (with drivers for over 1 year plus) or an HDHomerun.
The TV wonders being sold for around $109-$119+ needs to drop by half (sometimes they are onsale for that amount true), but that would accomedate the extra cost to buy a software package that would ACTUALLY TAKE FULL FUNCTIONALITY OF THE EXCELLENT HARDWARE; something that two providers ALREADY offer(ed), out of the box or with a internet download/update.
****EDIT Hauppauge also has a beta program to remap for QAM support like AVerMedia & HDHomerun. IDK the specifics but this really further makes ATI weak and that's coming from someone who owns three TV Wonder 650 Combo's.