When we think of TV/Video combination cards, we often think of ATI's All-In-Wonder series and NVIDIA's Personal Cinema. Each company has been offering various hybrid cards for quite some time, covering the spectrum from high-priced enthusiast-class to the value-priced solutions. ATI clearly has the name recognition with its All-In-Wonder and the Personal Cinema is also a solid offering in its own right, but you may be surprised to find out that these are not the only solutions out there.
Today, we are going to take a look at a new TV/Video combination card from S3 dubbed OmniChrome. S3 married an analog TV Tuner with its DeltaChrome S4 Nitro Graphics chip, upping the clock speed by 50MHz over the DeltaChrome S4 Pro. Rather than take on the big boys and their high-end offerings, S3 targets the lower-end of the price scale, aiming to supply affordable alternatives to ATi's and NVIDIA's products.
The OmniChrome does bring a few interesting options to the table. Along with the DeltaChrome S4 Nitro GPU, the bundle comes with a custom copy of InterVideo's Home Theater as well as an IR Remote, making it an attractive option for a custom Home Theater PC. Let's take a look at what S3 brings to the table with the OmniChrome, then we'll take a closer look the card and accompanying components.
S3 Graphics DeltaChromeS4
Analog TV tuner
Techwell TW9905 Video Decoder with adaptive comb filter
Silicon Image Si1162 TMDS Encoder
Cable Ready CATV R/F Input (Coax)
7 pin Video-in and Video-out Connectors
DVI-I Digital and Analog Monitor Support
VGA 15-Dsub support via standard DVI-VGA converter
Vertex Shader 2.0+ and Pixel Shader 2.0+
DirectX 9.0 VS/PS hardware
Chromotion Programmable Video engine
Highly Integrated Mobile Features
7th Generation DuoView (extended desktop)
2 Channel 165MHz, 12-bit digital TMDS port
480p/720p/1080i/1080p component (YPbPr) output
High Performance 400MHz 10-bit CRT DAC
Advanced Display Features
The package we received for review was not a retail version, but it did contain all of the components the retail version is expected to have. The OmniChrome retail bundle has several flavors, the currently available European version and the soon to be released United States version. The European package includes everything seen below with the addition of Colin McRae Road Rally 2004. On the U.S. side of the coin, the contents are still being ironed out, but the package is expected to come with a few more software titles and features.
The OmniChrome came with a very thorough User's Manual that covered the card's installation and features in excellent detail. Additionally, a Setup CD has the necessary drivers as well as several software titles from InterVideo. The first title is WinDVD Creator 2 for DVD authoring. The next is InterVideo Home Theater which works in conjunction with the IR Remote Control and Receiver pictured to give smooth onscreen control of the OminChrome's features. Both titles are customized for S3, requiring an S3 product be detected in order for the setup files to run. Lastly, there were two Component to S-Video adapters for use with the card's input/output functionality and an audio cable for connecting to a sound card.
It's safe to say that S3 does cover all the bases well with the OmniChrome, with some variations possible with the final retail package. Now that we've explored the essential components expected to accompany the OmniChrome, let's take a closer look at the card itself.