Ever since ATI started releasing it's All-In-Wonder and TV Wonder products, they've been highly accepted and widely used amongst the enthusiast community. The TV Wonder USB 2.0 offers a completely new level of ease for bringing live TV to the desktop. It's not unique in it's class, with similar offerings from Hauppauge and the like, but the TV Wonder USB 2.0 comes with ATi's highly polished Multimedia Center software, which is a big plus in our book.
The TV Wonder USB 2.0 is an external piece of hardware, so anyone who wants TV on their PC or laptop simply needs a USB connection and a cable line. Up until now in ATi's offering, bringing TV to the PC required opening up the case. Furthermore, the hardcore gamers in us needed an All-In-Wonder solution with a powerful graphics core to push the latest gaming titles. As we all know that type of hardware configuration can get quite expensive. With this piece of hardware, a user can save money by purchasing a separate, more affordable graphics card and then hook up live TV through this device.
ATI's Multimedia Center 9.02 is also coming along nicely and this piece of software manages to do it all. While not all functions are as smooth and straight forward as we would have liked sometimes, this software is extremely functional and does the perform basic funtions very well. The more it is used, the more accustomed to it the user gets and will quickly find out it can handle all your media needs from music to movies.
There are some shortcomings to the product as well obviously. HDTV is now becoming more and more prevalent and this device incorporates only a standard analog tuner. Additionally, the analog picture is not as crisp compared to when the cable is hooked directly to a standard TV, but still is acceptable to all but the true TV enthusiasts. Finally, many All-In-Wonder solutions also provide an FM tuner, which is absent from the TV Wonder USB 2.0.
For all those interested in turning their PC or laptop into a Multimedia Center, the ATI TV Wonder USB 2.0 will not disappoint. The abilty to record your favorite shows, pause live TV, and burn those shows onto DVD is quite a bit of functionality for a reasonable price (MSRP $99). As an all in one media solution, the ATI Wonder TV USB 2.0 definitely passes the test. We're giving the TV Wonder USB 2.0 a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of 8.