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ATI updates Theater TV tuner chip

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ATI today announced the Theater 650 Pro, an evolutionary upgrade over the 550 Pro predecessor. According to the manufacturer, the ASIC offers improved TV reception, picture quality and PVR performance. Paul Lypaczewski, ATI's senior vice president marketing for the company's desktop division, claimed that entertainment center PCs equipped with the chip "will match or better most consumer electronic solutions today."

Compared to the 550 Pro, the 650 version adds a new 3D comb filter, noise reduction features, a modified MPEG encoder and support for digital TV standards around the globe. Users in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and South Korea will see Theater chips with integrated ATSC capability, while European buyers will get chips with DVB-T support.

Other features of the chip include PVR functionality, video compression and conversion capabilities for MPEG2, MPEG4, DivX, WMV9 and H.264 as well as tuner support for both analog and digital TV with one TV card. One of the first applications to take advantage of the features in the 650 will be Snapstream's Beyond TV 4.3, a new version of the digital video recording software that will be introduced this Thursday.

ATI told TG Daily that TV tuner cards, including boards from Asus, Sapphire, MSI, Powercolor and Visiontek, will become available in the July time frame. According to the manufacturer, the 650 Pro chip meets Microsoft's requirements to carry the "Vista Premium" logo.

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