Although TV tuners have been in the desktop PC space for more than a decade, only in the last couple of years have they started to become integrated and widely used in notebook computers. OEMs started to recognize that many consumers simply didn’t want large desktop systems. But at the same time they wanted the multimedia features offered only by larger PCs, so many OEMs started working on ways to incorporate Video inputs and TV tuning into their notebook designs. After the introduction of Windows XP Media Center Edition in 2005, we saw many of these new multimedia notebook designs brought to market by companies like HP, ASUS, and Alienware among others, but the addition of TV tuning and video inputs added significant costs to these notebooks.
Not much later, a slew of companies like Diamond, Terratec, and Pinnacle Systems all brought to market USB 2.0 versions of their desktop TV tuners to give TV tuning and video input access to notebook users - or desktop users who didn't want to open up their systems - without any built in tuning or video capability. However, most of the products either suffered video quality issues or were too big and bulky to be used by the casual notebook user on the go.
Today AMD has announced a brand new product, the ATI TV Wonder 600 USB, that they hope will appeal to all notebook users looking for TV tuning and video input capability. Only the size of a credit card, the TV Wonder 600 USB features support for OTA (over the air) HDTV, OTA digital TV, analog cable TV, and analog video capture. Will the TV Wonder 600 USB live up to ATI’s established reputation as a leader in PC TV tuning? Let’s take a closer look to find out.