S3 OmniChrome TV/Graphics Card - HotHardware

S3 OmniChrome TV/Graphics Card

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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.

Specifications of the S3 OmniChrome
A Low-Cost All-In-One Solution

 

OmniChrome Features
Compact Design
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
128-bit (4xFP32) vertex precision and 96-bit (4xFP24) pixel precision
PS - 16 concurrent texture map references per pass
Shadow Volume acceleration with two-sided stencil
Unconditional non power of 2 textures
Floating point render target / texture formats
High accuracy floating point render target for cinematic quality image rendering
High quality advanced 16x anisotropic filtering
High performance anti-aliasing with 4x multi-sampling up to 1024x768
Volume and cube maps for photo-realistic reflection
Programmable per pixel gamma correction (PS 2.0+)

Chromotion Programmable Video engine
Motion compensation
S340 uncompressed format support
Per pixel adaptive de-interlacing (PS2.0+)
MPEG -2/-4 hardware acceleration
Windows Media Video hardware acceleration
4x4 programmable kernel filter video scaling (PS2.0+)
Microsoft Video Mixing Renderer support
Real time post processing (PS2.0+)
ArtisticLicense real-time video effects (PS2.0+)

Highly Integrated Mobile Features

7th Generation DuoView (extended desktop)
Up to 128MB of integrated frame buffer memory
2 channel LVDS transmitter for LCD panels up to 2048x1536

2 Channel 165MHz, 12-bit digital TMDS port
IDCT hardware support
Full Clock gating for major functional blocks
Dynamic voltage and frequency scaling
Pulse width modulation for panel lighting control
High quality bilinear LCD panel scaling
CRT display up to 2048x1536 75Hz resolution
DVI display up to 1600x1200 resolution
AGP 8X
256 MB frame buffer
128 bit DDR memory interface

Integrated Hi-Def HDTV & Standard TV Encoder

480p/720p/1080i/1080p component (YPbPr) output
4:4:4 conversion with 10 bit DAC resolution
Full desktop view in HDTV mode
480i standard TV output (S-video, composite)
Macrovision enabled for 480i/p mode
2/3 tap flicker filter with programmable coefficients
PC2001 specification support
NTSC/PAL support for standard TV mode
Vertical over-/underscan compensation
2x Oversampling for premium image quality
Adaptive aperture correction
Full range RGB to YUV color space conversion with Hue, Saturation and Contrast adjustment
Smooth vertical overscan compensation with programmable contraction factor

High Performance 400MHz 10-bit CRT DAC
1+ billion colors (Giga-Palette)
2048x1536 QXGA (3.1M) display resolution capable
Ultra low power consumption
Excellent INL/DNL characteristics (+/- 1 LSB)
Dual mode compatible (HDTV/CRT)

Advanced Display Features
Hardware display rotation for TabletPC (90, 180, 270)
Dual CRT support
Hardware color cursors
Up to 256 MB frame buffer
First class utilities with S3 Screen Toys


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.

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