While we are
all sitting and watching the 3D Graphics card battles rage
on, in the PC TV Tuner industry, competition is a little
less prominent. While a lot of enthusiasts are
caught up in the hype of whose video card is faster and
which one has the better image quality, there are other
developments going in adjacent markets, that sometimes
catch us off guard. The latest of these developments
is ATi's recent announcement of their new HDTV Wonder TV
card that can deliver a High Definition Television
experience to the PC. Recently some manufacturers
have made the jump to HDTV technology, but ATi may be
poised to lead the pack with the HDTV Wonder with features
that are currently not found with other solutions on the
Here are some
of the features of the new HDTV Wonder from ATi.
Brief Introduction to the HDTV Wonder
Taste of What's to Come
Wonder is a compact card that has the ability to deliver a
high definitiion television image. The card supports
Analog, Digital and High Definition Television signals,
making it an extremely versatile TV Tuner Card. One
of the key components behind the HDTV's capabilities is
ATi's NXT2004 Digital Modulator. This chip is
already included in a number of set-top components from
such companies as Sony and Samsung and is making its first
appearance in the PC market through the HDTV Wonder.
The modulator is the brains behind the HDTV Wonder,
helping to unlock all of the features of the card,
ensuring optimal signal processing . The NXT2004
gives the ability to detect the signal being received,
whether its Analog, Digital or HDTV, and maintains the
signal quality, ensuring the best picture is available.
What is most
exciting is that the majority of the country's local TV
Networks are already broadcasting HDTV signals over the
airwaves at no cost. This means you can hook up an
antennae to the HDTV Wonder and pick up a few local
channels free of charge. Most of us have gotten so
used to having a cable connection at home, it's difficult
to think about having a TV antennae setup that can offer
the same video quality or better. This ends up being
a great alternative to subscription based services
although obviously your channel selection will be
significantly more limited than a Cable TV package.
While HDTV programming is still evolving, most major
networks are providing HDTV programs during primetime and
the choices will continue to grow over time.
only part of the picture however. ATi's "Multimedia
Center 9" compliments the HDTV Wonder to ensure an
intuitive user friendly high quality PC experience.
Card for a Larger View
- HDTV WONDER will
function as both a HDTV tuner and an analog tuner
functions like picture-in-picture (PiP) right on
your monitor when paired with an ALL-IN-WONDER
9600 or above graphics card.
- High definition
Television does more than just increase image
quality. All DTV shows are broadcast in digital
stereo sound and most primetime content today
comes in as Dolby digital surround sound.
- Free-to-air DTV
- Now you can
receive DTV programming in more places across
North America than ever before, and at no cost.
- There are
currently 1,129 DTV stations on air in 202
markets in the USA, serving 99.35% of
- With an optional
HDTV antenna, you can access this expanding
universe of DTV for free!
- Record TV programs
to watch later, add TV clips to your presentations
- Watch, pause and
record live analog TV, DTV and HDTV
- Burn HDTV to DVDs
While we don't
have any shots of the Multimedia Center 9 to share, we do
have a good list of features and changes that come with
the latest version. The biggest addition to the
package is ATi's DTV application which is the centerpiece
of the digital TV experience. This application
delivers TV-ON-DEMAND functionality which let's users
pause and record live TV and resume when they are ready
without loss of video quality. According to ATi,
this is a unique feature with HDTV cards, offering a more
versatile solution over the competition. Even more
important is DTV's ability to record video to a CD or DVD.
Realistically, if you are recording a HDTV program, you're
going to fill a standard DVD after about 30 minutes of
recording at the highest quality. So it's safe to
say recording to CDs won't be of much use, and DVDs are
going to fill up pretty fast. But the beauty of this
is that the HDTV signal is so clear, you should be able to
step down the recording quality a notch or two and still
have video quality that exceeds that of DVD.
So how good is
the quality? Before we get into the details, we
should take a moment and go over the differences between
Analog, Digital and HDTV.
So How Good Is It?