Viewing and recording television shows on your computer is nothing new. In fact, the ATi All-In-Wonder series of video boards has allowed computer users to do this for years. While a good product, it wasn't a good solution for laptop users or for people who didn't want to open up their computers (yes, such people do exist).
In this article, we review ATi's TV Wonder USB 2.0, which will be launched in September 2004. It promises to put a portable face on television viewing and recording, meaning that laptop users will no longer feel left out. Does the TV Wonder USB 2.0 live up to the expectations of the finicky consumer? Read on and find out.
The TV Wonder USB 2.0 will be sold for $99 USD. The unit is small and light, so it can easily be transported in a backpack or laptop bag. It comes with a detachable USB cable and a power-supply adapter. The TV Wonder's power adapter is switchable with an input of 100 to 240 volts and uses a two-pronged (no ground plug) connection.
On the right side of the TV Wonder are the S-Video and Composite Video/Audio connections. You connect to the S-Video, Composite Video and Antenna at the same time, and you simply use the software to switch between them. The antenna connection for a coaxial connection is at the bottom side of the unit.
When the power and USB cable are connected, a red light located just above the ATi logo will come on. The unit does get a little hot during operation, so give it plenty of room for the heat to dissipate.
No Remote Wonder 2.0
Unlike some of the other ATi television products, the TV Wonder USB 2.0 does not include the Remote Wonder 2 unit. The Remote Wonder is an RF (radio frequency) remote control for operating the mouse and using the various features of the Multimedia Center, which is ATi's signature video playback/recording application.
Although the Remote Wonder is not included, buyers of the TV Wonder USB 2.0 are eligible for a 50% discount off the price. A coupon will be included in retail boxes of the TV Wonder USB 2.0.