ATI TV Wonder Elite
TV Wonder Elite - Image Quality
Left Side: TV Wonder Elite w/All-in-Wonder 9600 Pro & Right Side: All-in-Wonder 9600 XT
Capture Settings: using default capture properties via PowerCinema 3.0 and MMC 9.1's TV program in fullscreen 1280 x 1024 mode
Systems Setup: direct cable TV feed split once into two systems
As far as dark scenes go, the quality is noticeably better but not by a large margin. There is less line twitter, feathering, and noticeably less of the dot crawl when we were watching TV, which really bugged us in the past. If you take a look at the pictures, you can tell the difference between a tuner that can only do 2D comb filtering and one that can do 2D and 3D. (Hint: All of the Left side pictures are from the TV Wonder Elite.)
Switching to light color scenes reveals similar benefits, especially when a large portion of the screen is a single color, i.e. the wall in both pictures and kid holding the tongue depressor. Overall, the quality is better than most PVR cards we have seen, but we still have to contend that a typical $600+ television from Best Buy that gives better overall quality. This may be due to the sorting algorithm that ATI uses in the T550 Pro to do 2D or 3D comb filtering, granted ATI is making a significant improvement here for receiving broadcast TV on your PC.
The previous dark and light scenes are based on "good" signal strength in the cable feed. When we switch to a mid quality cable feed, the quality differences between 3D comb filters and 2D comb filters are much harder to distinguish.
However, we should mention that the pictures make the image look a tad better than viewing TV actually is. With PowerCinema in windowed mode, there were occasional .5 second segments where the image would quiver in the video box. The most annoying part is that this is a continuous problem. And when there is unmoving text on the TV screen, its quiver makes it look like something went a tad wrong with de-interlacing. The quiver is not a full blown shaking image, but it is noticeable. In full screen windowed mode, the quivering stops but there is some line flicking with stationary objects and jagged edges on the screen, which don't happen to come up in screen captures. In full screen mode, there is minimal quiver, which is extremely hard to distinguish unless you really look up close, and unfortunately, line twitter is still present. All of these problems are things we have not seen with any other TV Wonder or All-in-Wonder products in MMC. We are much more inclined to believe this is a result of PowerCinema not being optimized for ATI, as opposed to the card itself, because this type of thing does occasionally happen with software that is supposed to accept any TV card. Even though the version of PowerCinema included is designated "ATI Edition," there may be more minor tweaks that need to be made. We should also note that most of these issues seem to go away if the TV show is recorded and then watched later.