ATI's HDTV Wonder - It Has Arrived
More Image Samples and Summary
These are only a few examples of image quality differences but they don't truly deliver the impact of how good the higher quality digital images are. Once you see HDTV on your computer screen, which most are capable of displaying in full detail, the image quality is truly impressive. For one last demonstration, below are two screenshots from a local channel transmitting in full 1920x1080i HDTV. We left the images at the default resolution, but we did apply compression to reduce file size. Even so, the images do a good job at showing the overall image quality of HDTV. Warning, each is approximately 600KB.
Since February, when ATI first leaked word of the HDTV Wonder, many enthusiasts, including myself, have been anxiously awaiting its arrival. Since our original preview, we have been receiving e-mails from impatient readers on a regular basis asking if we've heard anything about its impending release. Naturally, with ATI having an NDA on the information and hardware they sent for review, we could not divulge any details. But now the wait is over and the HDTV Wonder is ready for prime time. But was the wait worth it? We think the answer is a resounding 'yes'.
After having the last 10 days to get familiar with the features of the HDTV Wonder and the new and improved Multimedia Center 9, it's obvious that ATI has another winner on its hands. While we have yet to see the complete retail package, we have a pretty good idea what it will be comprised of and it should be impressive.
ATI's goal is to offer a complete HDTV solution for an MSRP of $199. The package will include the HDTV Wonder, a Remote Wonder and a yet to be determined antenna. Throw in a potent Multimedia Center 9 and you have the makings for a sweet HDTV experience. To get the full experience of the card, users will need to use it in conjunction with an ATI graphics card to take advantage of such features as ThruView and Video Desktop, but the card will work with other DirectX 9 compatible OEM products otherwise.
While we did note some shortcomings in the Multimedia Center 9, particularly with the Media Library interface, the overall package was complete. The EAZYLOOK/EAZYLAUNCH combination offered an easy to understand interface for managing the software with the Remote Wonder included in the bundle and the ability to record and burn was an added benefit, albeit awkward.
In the end, if you are looking for a complete, affordable HDTV experience, the HDTV Wonder fits the bill, covering all of the bases in a single package. With the ability to capture free HDTV signal and provide standard TV capability, the HDTV Wonder is a compelling solution. Being their first HDTV offering, we were impressed and truly look forward to seeing the HDTV Wonder line evolve as the merging of TV and PC continues to move forward. For $199, the HDTV Wonder delivers the goods at a fair price point that should surely tempt a lot of users. Look for it to hit store shelves around mid-July.