ATI HDTV Wonder Preview

A Preview of ATI's HDTV Wonder - Page 1

ATi Introduces the HDTV Wonder
Bringing High Definition TV to the PC

By, Jeff Bouton
February 26, 2004


While we are all sitting and watching the 3D Graphics card battles rage on, in the PC TV Tuner industry, competition is a little less prominent.  While a lot of enthusiasts are caught up in the hype of whose video card is faster and which one has the better image quality, there are other developments going in adjacent markets, that sometimes catch us off guard.  The latest of these developments is ATi's recent announcement of their new HDTV Wonder TV card that can deliver a High Definition Television experience to the PC.  Recently some manufacturers have made the jump to HDTV technology, but ATi may be poised to lead the pack with the HDTV Wonder with features that are currently not found with other solutions on the market.

Here are some of the features of the new HDTV Wonder from ATi.

A Brief Introduction to the HDTV Wonder
A Taste of What's to Come

The HDTV Wonder is a compact card that has the ability to deliver a high definitiion television image.  The card supports Analog, Digital and High Definition Television signals, making it an extremely versatile TV Tuner Card.  One of the key components behind the HDTV's capabilities is ATi's NXT2004 Digital Modulator.  This chip is already included in a number of set-top components from such companies as Sony and Samsung and is making its first appearance in the PC market through the HDTV Wonder.  The modulator is the brains behind the HDTV Wonder, helping to unlock all of the features of the card, ensuring optimal signal processing .  The NXT2004 gives the ability to detect the signal being received, whether its Analog, Digital or HDTV, and maintains the signal quality, ensuring the best picture is available.

What is most exciting is that the majority of the country's local TV Networks are already broadcasting HDTV signals over the airwaves at no cost.  This means you can hook up an antennae to the HDTV Wonder and pick up a few local channels free of charge.  Most of us have gotten so used to having a cable connection at home, it's difficult to think about having a TV antennae setup that can offer the same video quality or better.  This ends up being a great alternative to subscription based services although obviously your channel selection will be significantly more limited than a Cable TV package.  While HDTV programming is still evolving, most major networks are providing HDTV programs during primetime and the choices will continue to grow over time.

Hardware is only part of the picture however.  ATi's "Multimedia Center 9" compliments the HDTV Wonder to ensure an intuitive user friendly high quality PC experience.

Click Card for a Larger View

Complete Multifunction Tuning:
  • HDTV WONDER will function as both a HDTV tuner and an analog tuner
  • MULTIVIEW? functions like picture-in-picture (PiP) right on your monitor when paired with an ALL-IN-WONDER® 9600 or above graphics card.
  • High definition Television does more than just increase image quality. All DTV shows are broadcast in digital stereo sound and most primetime content today comes in as Dolby® digital surround sound.
  • Free-to-air DTV Programming:
    • Now you can receive DTV programming in more places across North America than ever before, and at no cost. 
    • There are currently 1,129 DTV stations on air in 202 markets in the USA, serving 99.35% of households.
    • With an optional HDTV antenna, you can access this expanding universe of DTV for free!

Personal Video Recorder Capabilities:

  • Record TV programs to watch later, add TV clips to your presentations
  • Watch, pause and record live analog TV, DTV and HDTV
  • Burn HDTV to DVD?s and CD?s

While we don't have any shots of the Multimedia Center 9 to share, we do have a good list of features and changes that come with the latest version.  The biggest addition to the package is ATi's DTV application which is the centerpiece of the digital TV experience.  This application delivers TV-ON-DEMAND functionality which let's users pause and record live TV and resume when they are ready without loss of video quality.  According to ATi, this is a unique feature with HDTV cards, offering a more versatile solution over the competition.  Even more important is DTV's ability to record video to a CD or DVD.  Realistically, if you are recording a HDTV program, you're going to fill a standard DVD after about 30 minutes of recording at the highest quality.  So it's safe to say recording to CDs won't be of much use, and DVDs are going to fill up pretty fast.  But the beauty of this is that the HDTV signal is so clear, you should be able to step down the recording quality a notch or two and still have video quality that exceeds that of DVD.

So how good is the quality?  Before we get into the details, we should take a moment and go over the differences between Analog, Digital and HDTV.

So How Good Is It?

Tags:  ATI, HD, HDTV, TV, DTV, Pre, preview, review, view, DT, IE

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