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Multimedia is this card's specialty and it does not disappoint. Based around a toolbar design, the Multimedia Panel is the control center of the AiW drivers, featuring a TV Tuner, DVD player, Video Disc player, and ATI's video file player.

To start off with we'll take a quick look at the TV tuner and combined capture abilities of the card. The TV abilities of the AiW are certainly the bread and butter of this card, and the best part is they work quite well. TVIO functions are handled by ATI's Rage Theater chip, with support for both the NTSC and PAL standards. The Rage Theater chip is the same as has been used on previous All-in-Wonder cards and is generally considered to have excellent i/o image quality. Getting things going is as simple as connecting your cable to the coax connector on the rear of the card. From there on the ATI TV tuner software takes over, scanning for available channels and asking for an audio input. The tuner software itself is not bad. Picture quality is very good, easily the best that we have seen on any TV tuner card, as well the window size is not fixed, allowing the user to scale to any size they wish, or place the live feed in the desktop background. But the real power of this program lies in the Digital VCR and it's TV on Demand abilities. As the name implies, the VCR can be programmed to record shows to your hard drive for viewing at a later time or permanent storage. The most useful feature of the Digital VCR is something called Time Shifting, or as it's more commonly known, "pause". At any time you can hit the pause button to stop playback and then return later and continue right where you left off. It works by recording the TV feed to your hard drive and then playing the stream back at a later time, all while still recording the live stream. Obviously this puts quite a load on the system, capturing and compressing video to the hard drive, then decompressing and playing it back while still recording the live stream. So you will want to have a fast system if you intend on using this function, we recommend at least a P3-500. The system requirements can be substantially lowered if the capture resolution is lowered or the compression lowered, minimum requirements as suggested by ATI is a P2-300. Also included on the driver CD is Gemstar's GuidePlus, a digital TV guide that integrates with the Digital VCR to create a very robust system for TV program recording.

Above you can see ATI's DVD software. It's nothing too special other than it is able to tap into the Radeon's hardware MPEG 2 decoding abilities to aid in the decoding process. If you have a slower CPU this may be a big benefit, otherwise the rather limited functionality would lead us to other DVD software.

On the video capture and output side of things we were very pleased with the quality and performance. As we said earlier, Svideo, composite, and coaxial video inputs are provided in a purple breakout box. Svideo and composite video as well as a Dolby digital S/PDIF outputs are provided on a dongle.

Video capture is a snap with the included Ulead Video Studio, connect your video source and your ready to go. Capture resolutions range anywhere up to 720x480 MPEG2 at 30fps and we experienced very few hiccups along the way. Capture quality largely depends on the video source, using digital video input via Svideo, the quality is amazing, no noticeable changes to the video what so ever. Quality when using the composite and coaxial inputs is very good, not nearly that of Svideo, but still quite good. The image quality from both Svideo and composite rivals that of even dedicated capture cards.

Unfortunately we do not have a television capable of accepting an Svideo input, but even the composite video output quality of the Rage Theater is amazing. As anyone who has used TV outputs will know, working in windows is not really an option due to the low resolution of NTSC. The real enjoyment lies in DVD's and movie viewing. This may all change soon with HDTV's making their way onto the market, that may be the start of a bigscreen computing revolution, but until then do not plan on using your bigscreen for word processing.

The only problems we experienced with the multimedia functionality was a bug in the file player application under Windows 2000. When displaying video at 50% size, the video display speed drops dramatically in action scenes, but the framerate stays constant. The video speed appears to slow and 3 or 4 frames blur together, much like the T-Buffer's motion blur, but quite ugly looking. Almost as if the video was still being rendered correctly, but the display buffer was being copied to the screen about 25% as often as it should. Windows Media Player did not experience any problems using the same video codec.

The Tally


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