Image Quality, Final Thoughts & Conclusion
The MSI Theater 550 Pro offers great image quality at a good price. The occasional static and background noise can be seen in the image, but this is to be expected. The images produced are only as good as the cable signal being sent into the card, so keep that in mind. This isn't a top of the line product, however, and for the price level MSI is aiming for, the image is more than acceptable, as other TV Tuners in a slightly higher price range have comparable quality. However, we must reiterate that factors such as signal quality and weather can play a part in image quality. Some channels look better than others, and with a TV Tuner card paired with a computer monitor, background noise is a little more noticeable than if you were viewing the signal on a TV.
Looking back at what we've seen, MSI has succeeded in producing a good TV Tuner package. With the ATI Theater 550 Pro chip, you get decent image quality, and the ability to receive FM Radio. However, the complaints we had with the PowerCinema software take away from the overall experience. While it has a clean interface, and allows you to watch TV and view other forms of media, the features we've come to expect just aren't there, like TV listings for example. For those of you who have used other TV viewing programs, you might be disappointed by PowerCinema's performance and lack of features. This isn't to say that PowerCinema is a bad piece of software, it can certainly get the job done, just not always the way you might want. For the novice user looking for just the basic options, it's a good first step into the multimedia waters.
The recent batch of TV Tuner packages to hit the market have been fairly impressive. It's amazing how convenient it is to transfer any kind of media you can imagine, straight onto your PC, and then browse through it with a remote control. What's even more amazing is how easy it has become. Driver installation is down to just a few clicks of a mouse, and maybe filling in a couple forms with location information. Thanks to the fully featured remotes now found in most packages, you don't even have to be at your computer to channel surf, record, and even switch between TV, Radio, and DVD.
The MSI ATI Theater 550 Pro is a package aimed at those with a tight budget, or those who are just looking for a basic TV Tuner. With a retail price of around $75, you can get all the tools you need to watch TV on your computer, burn your media to DVD, and even transfer media from your VHS and Camcorder onto your computer. HotHardware gives the MSI ATI Theater 550 Pro an 8 out of 10 on the Heat Meter.
|•_Good Image Quality
•_Can Receive FM Radio
•_Included Remote Control
|•_PowerCinema lacks features
•_Slow performance with __PowerCinema