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A more comprehensive TV Wonder Elite review!

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March 19, 2005 6:05:25 AM

You've probably seen a few reviews of ATI's new TV card, but those I've read have all looked like brief overviews. For an extensive review of the card, look no further than <A HREF="http://www.sysopt.com/reviews/tvwonderelite/index.html" target="_new">Sysopt</A>

I know someone was asking, so there it is!

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>

More about : comprehensive elite review

March 19, 2005 7:39:04 PM

How would you rate this card, Crash?

<pre><font color=red>°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°`°¤o \\// o¤°`°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°
And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign</pre><p></font color=red>
March 19, 2005 7:51:43 PM

ATI's TV Wonder Elite offers a great value for excellent hardware, a worthy HTPC solution that longs for desktop-friendly software.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
March 19, 2005 7:55:31 PM

:)  I read the article, but did not catch the author.

So the software sucks then, is how I interpret that. Why does ATI not modify thier decent MMC software so it works across the TV Wonder Pro and this card?

<pre><font color=red>°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°`°¤o \\// o¤°`°¤o,¸¸¸,o¤°
And the sign says "You got to have a membership card to get inside" Huh
So I got me a pen and paper And I made up my own little sign</pre><p></font color=red>
March 19, 2005 8:17:47 PM

This card doesn't have any hardware in common with the TV-Wonder, TV-Wonder Remote Edition, TV-Wonder VE, or any All-In-Wonder card. So MMC would have to be re-written to support it, and I think ATI's just not ready to commit to that just yet.

This is a real bummer for All-In-Wonder users of course, because ATI advertised that you could add Picture-In-Picture simply by adding a TV-Wonder to your AIW. They don't even mention that this doesn't apply to "other" TV-Wonder cards such as the Elite.

One thing for example that really bugged me was that you couldn't take a screenshot from the video input (for DVD comparison). Screenshots aren't supported for Video mode in the Cyberlink software. So to get comparison screenshots, I had to RECORD the input, then take the screenshot from a player. The screenshots from the AIW card were easy, just click the little camera icon on the MMC software.

ATI advertised with the AIW cards that by adding a TV-Wonder you could record one show while watching another (two channels using two tuners). You can still do that with the Elite, but it means you have to run two programs to view two shows using two tuners. And your AIW will never be "synced up" to the Elite because of the built-in delay. That also means the Elite will never be synched up to any nearby TV, so if you live in a studio apartment or whatever, you'll hear an echo when both a TV and the Elite are tuned to the same channel. I mentioned this last part in the review.

The major annoyance at my house is that my wife and I watch some of the same programs while I'm working at the computer and she's in the living room. So if there's a delay on mine, the annoyance is constant.

I'm hoping that future versions of MMC will allow you to select live or delayed TV on the Elite the same way it does with my AIW. I understand that some special code might have to be written to alter the function of the hardware buffer. But so long as ATI doesn't provide an ideal software solution, I'll keep praising the hardware and knocking the software.

For many users such issues won't matter. For example, using this in an HDTV with no other TV's nearby, it adds good TiVO-like functionality. And the remote has all the shortcut buttons you'd ever want.

Let's not forget the value of powerful hardware when it comes to digitaly encoding video, some people won't mind the cumbersome software so long as the end results are top quality.

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
March 20, 2005 3:29:04 AM

Nice review. I've been using Sapphire's version (the Theatrix) under Windows MCE2005 and have been very impressed. I get that delay you're speaking of. Didn't notice it until I was recording something and watching the same channel on a TV in another room. My channels change kind of slow too. The volume on mine seems a bit on the low side as well. Did you notice this? (it could be a MCE2005 thing, though).

According to the manual of my Theatrix, it says that ATI's MMC 9.04 will support it once it's released. But this is also coming from the same company who forgot to package my PowerCinema CD!
March 20, 2005 4:48:19 AM

I find it hard to believe ATI would not consider using software they own (MMC) in addition to software they pay for (PowerCinema). ATI can deny it all they want, but I've already been through the rounds of ATI's marketing departement having no clue as to what's going on with the rest of the company. For example, when I received my AIW 9600 Pro review sample, the documentation at ATI said it was 2x/1.0 compatable, even though it lacked the 3.3v key slot. It took over a week of contacts before they figured out I was right, at which point they delisted 2x compatability for all their current cards, even the then-current 9800 Pro which WAS 2x compatable!

So as far as trusting the source, I'd probably find it more reliable than ATI's marketing department!

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
March 20, 2005 10:32:41 PM

Quote:
I know someone was asking, so there it is!

I think that would be TheGreatGrapeApe that requested that one.


<b>Ned Flanders said that im a BAD ASS</b> :lol: 
March 21, 2005 1:44:52 AM

That's what I remembered, but my memory isn't perfect, so I just said "someone"! One cannot be too careful!

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
March 21, 2005 5:33:04 AM

You may recall a few weeks ago that me you and APE were discussing the pros and cons of using an EDTV PLASMA for a Monitor/TV. Well, I bought a 37" Panasonic and am very pleased with the results. Im still confused about a few things however and the one that confuses me the worst is about what exactly the EDTV is capable of doing/converting as far as a signal is concerned. I understand that it will display a digital signal, but what exactly does it mean to say that its HD ready? It says that it is capable of displaying 1080i and 480p DTV when connected to a DTV Tuner Set-Top-Box. It has regular composite inputs and also HDMI as well as the (Y, Pb, Pr) inputs. Panasonic says not to use the HDMI for computers and when I use the other (Y, Pb, Pr) cable that came with my X800Xl the pic is weird looking, the colors arent right and the pic is strange looking. I just use the regular 15 pin cable and it does a good job. If one of the other options would be better however I would use it. What am I not understanding here? Does this card that you reviewed give me the correct signal so that I could use the HDMI or (y, Pb, Pr) inputs?

<b>Ned Flanders said that im a BAD ASS</b> :lol: 
March 21, 2005 6:03:00 AM

Aha! Well, it's simply complicated.

EDTV should be 852x480. Higher resolution signals are downconverted. Considering that anything you send to an EDTV is either downconverted or upconverted, the analog VGA cable is actually an ideal solution (I've heard arguments with monitors that component video cables are better, but never actually seen any visible difference).

DVD's are 720x480 in NTSC format, so they at least match the verticle scale of your screen. Now, 720x480 isn't 16x9, so my guess is that DVD's are being stretched no matter what, but EDTV IS 16x9.

This card only accepts analog cable, composite video, and S-Video inputs. That should be good enough for DVD quality, and in fact it is capable of capturing DVD's at both NTSC and PAL DVD resolutions.

HDMI should work from a PC using p resolutions, I don't know why Panasonic urges against it unless it has to do with security features. The problem here is that the only progressive resolution you listed is 480p, very low quality. Video cards can't output 1080i, they could be set to the equivelant of 1080p but that's not a standard as far as I know. Computers use progressive scanning, not interlaced.

Are you certain your TV can't scale 720p? Because 480p doesn't sound like a good option, and 720p is possible from most video cards!

Given that you don't have a good match between your video card and your TV (no 720p support on the TV, no 1080i support on the PC, 480p being low quality), an analog cable is probably the best match, and that would include the VGA cable which as you've seen on your computer monitors is a perfectly acceptable choice.

I don't know if your TV can receive a direct 852x480 progressive-scan digital signal via HDMI either, it seems like the native resolution for the screen isn't supported by the rest of the hardware! Back to VGA cables!

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
March 25, 2005 2:10:15 AM

Hey Crash! From your review, I see that you are using a Soyo board with the C-Media onboard audio(8738). I once had a Soyo dragon+ (KT266A) and when used with the C-Media onboard audio, I had some kind of a hissssssssssssssssss when recording. I eventually changed my motherboard but to get a better sound while capturing, I had to use the MIC input. Good.. unless you have a stereo source.. Does your Soyo board has this trouble too, or if that was a problem of the Dragon+ KT266A serie?

-Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware, UNLESS YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH A MSI BOARD !!!
March 25, 2005 6:26:19 AM

I use the "line-in" to input audio from my AIW, and the hissing noise is so low I just had to turn my speaker up full blast between a commercial break to hear it. The hardware differences between your older board/sound chip and my newer one are probably the reason for the difference in recording quality. Heck, it could have even been trace routing to blame for your problem!

<font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
<font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
!