TV/FM Tuner and Multimedia Center 9 Overview
One of the most obvious differences with the All-In-Wonder X600 Pro, compared to previous models, is its tuner component. ATI has implemented a new tuner design that is dramatically smaller than previous tuners, requiring less voltage and generating a lot less heat. In fact, the chip requires a mere 1.5w to function, yet provides full tuner capabilities including Analog TV and FM Radio. Along with receiving the signal, the chip is designed to enhanced the signal before it moves to the video decoding process via the Theater 200 video decoder chip.
The Theater 200 Video Decoder chip handles all of the All-In-Wonder X600 Pro's video decoding, converting analog signal to digital. Additionally, the chip acts as a stereo decoder as well, while handling all audio/video signal conversion from any of the card's many inputs. Like the Tuner chip, the Theater 200 is a low power consumption device that requires a fraction of a watt to function.
For video conversion, the All-In-Wonder X600 Pro utilizes a 2D 3-Line Comb Filter and dual 12-Bit analog-to-digital converters, ensuring a high degree of integrity during the conversion process. This helps in ensuring that the highest image quality is maintained at all times. All we can say is we found the image quality of the analog tuner very good overall, in fact, quite crisp for an analog tuner.
On the software side, ATI's Multimedia Center 9 is the driving force behind all of the All-In-Wonders. Over the years, MMC9 has evolved from a simple tuner software package to a robust software suite that includes a wide array of features. Included in the Multimedia Center 9 is a fully functional TV tuner component that is capable of tuning in stations from either an antenna or cable source. Additionally, ATI includes the ability to record, pause, and rewind live TV as well as offer full scheduling capabilities to boot. The video can be recorded in a number of popular formats including MPEG-1, MPEG-2, AVI and ATI's proprietary ATI VCR format.
The software also provides an FM tuner component that offers many of the features of the TV module, including the ability to pause, record and schedule recording at specific times. The FM software records the audio file in 16-bit stereo as an MP3, making the files very easy to access from virtually any software audio player.
Completing the package is a full multimedia library function for cataloging all of your recorded files as well as giving the option to export video files to MPEG-4 format. ATI also includes a fully functional DVD player, a standard Player component to access any of the recorded formats the program offers, and a VCD player too. We also like the GemStar Guide Plus which is a free programming guide that can download local TV programming from the web. This is a free and robust utility that even shows a preview of what's playing for the current time frame.
The Multimedia Center software has been the backbone of the All-In-Wonder series for years, unlocking all of the multimedia features of the card in one application. In the day and age of Home Theater PCs, the MMC 9 software can now act as the centerpiece of the HTPC experience. With a complete TV tuner component that lets you schedule recordings and record live TV, as well as pause, rewind and fast forward it, the MMC 9 is a capable solution. Furthermore, when combined with an optional Remote Wonder/Remote Wonder II, the card can be the core of an HTPC, with clear on-screen programming menus thanks to ATI's EAZYLOOK 10-ft interface. Multimedia Center 9 is an extremely robust package that has evolved nicely over the years, providing complete PVR capabilities.