PowerColor Theater 550 Pro PCI Express

Article Index

Software and Features

Introducing PowerCinema 4.0
An Improvement over PowerCinema 3.0



Equally important as the hardware, is the software necessary to control it. PowerColor has decided to bundle Cyberlink's PowerCinema 4 with their TV Tuner. Last year we reviewed MSI's Theatre 550 Pro product, which came bundled with PowerCinema 3, and we were not terribly impressed. The software was sluggish, and brought down the generally great experience of using a quality TV Tuner. Fortunately for us, and all of you, PowerCinema 4 appears to be void of the problems we had with PowerCinema 3. The interface is responsive, and never once made our system hang for more than a second. While using the TV Function, volume control, channel changing, replaying live TV, and recording video all acted as they should; without a significant delay. Software can make or break a TV Tuner package, and PowerCinema 4 will provide a pleasant experience.


On the feature side, there are no outstanding features that will set this package apart from the rest. As far as video options, you're given the ability to change the screen ratio, movie display type, and select from a few different color profiles. The audio screen consists of speaker environment, output mode, audio channel expander, and dynamic range compression. Dynamic range compression offers normal, quiet, and noisy which covers just about any type of situation. For recording video, you can select 3 different quality settings, and choose where to save your recorded videos. The radio options allow you to change the fine-tuning frequency to .05MHz and .1MHz, and you can also choose the recording format (WMA-32K, WMA-64K, WMA-128K). Bottom line is, with an easy to navigate and responsive interface, you'll enjoy using PowerCinema 4. TV channel listing is also available with PowerCinema 4 and while the full subscription service will cost you annually, a free trial is available.

Image Quality
Pretty pictures, or a blurry mess?


So how pretty are the pictures? Image quality isn't bad at all, and that's what we've come to expect from ATI's affordable Theatre 550 Pro chip. As we've stated before, you'll find no increase in image quality related to the new PCIe interface. The images you see here will not reflect everyone's experience, however, as much of the quality simply depends on the quality of your incoming cable signal. All of our cable channels are not perfectly clear, but we tried to select the channels that came in best for this showcase. You'll notice a bit of background noise in each of the pictures, as well as a slight amount of blur. This is common with TV Tuners in this class.

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