Multimedia Center 9 - An Overview
Driving the PC experience with the All-In-Wonder is ATI's Multimedia Center 9 software. Multimedia Center 9 hasn't changed a whole lot with the last few All-In-Wonder releases, but there is little reason to do so. The Multimedia Center 9 is an extremely capable software package that offers a slew of features that have become a staple of the All-In-Wonder line. We're going to cover the leading points here, as we could easily devote an entire review to the capabilities of ATI's Multimedia Center 9.
Multimedia Center 9 consists of a TV Tuner, FM Radio, CD, VCD and DVD players, a File Viewer and Library. ATI uses a consistent interface for all of the components so it's easy to transition from one to the other. Additionally, the interface is skinable, although this is one area that ATI has ignored since Multimedia Center 9 was released. The TV module offers extensive recording capabilities, including support for MPEG, AVI and ATI's VCR formats. The software also supports scheduling for recording programs at specific times as well as taking stills of the video on screen. ATI even integrates Parental Controls along with Closed Captioning and also allows for pausing and rewinding of live radio and TV broadcasts. Much like we noted with the All-In-Wonder X800 XT, the TV tuner did seem a bit less responsive than the older Philips can-type tuners. It seemed as though there was a one second delay from the time we pressed the button until the channel changed and loaded picture and sound. In all fairness, my Time Warner DVR setup has the same type of delay which may be a result of the all digital network. Overall, the delay was tolerable and the image quality was excellent.
Multimedia Center 9's Library function worked well at organizing recorded content and offers the ability to export files to CD, VCD and DVD formats. The best part of this feature is that the burning is done directly to the media, without the need of additional CD/DVD recording software.
EAZYLOOK is ATI's on screen interface that simulates what you might find with a Cable/Satellite DVR. The goal is to be able to control the All-In-Wonder from a distance, such as sitting on the couch, while easily seeing all of the screen's content. The menu design is quite intuitive and takes little time to get familiar with.
One of our favorite features of the All-In-Wonder series is ThruView and Video Desktop. At the click of a button, the video can take the place of your desktop wallpaper (center image) or it can be configured to be transparent so the video can be seen over another open window (right image). Surprisingly, both of these features work well and are not a distraction as some might think. We had no problem writing this page while watch the latest updates on CNN.