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    SLCentralHardwareReviewsVideo Oct 18th, 2018 - 12:50 PM EST
    ATI TV Wonder VE
    Author: Paul Mazzucco
    Date Posted: July 10th, 2001
    Rating: 9.5/10 SystemLogistics

    Introduction

    A few years ago, the one of the major areas of hype was around bringing Internet access to the TV, which has tended to be the focal point of one form of family entertainment (in part due to game consoles and VCRs). Such technologies have matured, and indeed evolved to the point where boxes can now be bought to digitally record television events. And yet, in my humble opinion, there has been a more recent shift towards making the PC the center of entertainment.

    DVD drives have become commonplace on many of the non-budget PCs. Many cards now offer TV-out support, so one could easily use the computer to watch DVDs on a full screen TV. More and more people have shown interest in cards that can do video in, and video out, as shown by ATI's All-In-Wonder line, along with Matrox's Marvel series, along with all the VIVO cards that have sprung up, all of which offer the ability (among other things), to watch TV on the computer desktop. Individual TV tuners have been around for a while, but they are finally becoming priced so that they can be more commonplace.

    One such example can be found in ATI's PCI TV Wonder VE. As ATI does with their other lines of cards, the VE stands for "Value Edition," but offers strong features for the price, as it retails for a mere $49US/$79CDN. Considering that with more and more people living in smaller and smaller places (*cough*collegedormrooms*cough*), the ability to save space by not having a stand-alone TV is quite a convenience, considering one could hook up a VCR to the card, and cable to the VCR.

    The Card And Features

    Requirements:

    • Pentium/Pentium Pro/Pentium II/Pentium III® or compatible
    • One available PCI slot for TV WONDER VE card
    • Software is supplied on CD-ROM
    • CD-ROM drive
    • Sound Card
    • Speakers
    • Table TV signal or amplified antenna
    • Windows 95b (OSR 2) or Windows 98 or Windows 98 SE or Windows 2000
    • Graphics card with overlay support

    Now, these requirements aren't really the whole story. The CD-ROM requirement is now gone (but, seriously, who doesn't have a CD-ROM on a computer that they want to use a TV Tuner one?), as ATI has finally allowed customers to download the latest software. Prior to the July 5th release of 7.1 of ATI's Multimedia Center Software, the only way to get new drivers in Windows 9x was to fill out a form and submit it to ATI to get it sent on a CD-ROM via snail-mail. Beta versions of 7.1 were available for Windows 2000, but nothing more. This, quite frankly, sucked, and it's a good thing that ATI came out with new drivers, and non-beta software, available for download for all OSs.

    Also note that though the webpage doesn't show support for Windows 2000, they have official drivers available for download, so anyone with a Windows 2000 based system need not worry.

    Here, the top protrusion is one video-in, while the 2nd is for a cable or antenna. The third is for audio out, which hooks up to the line-in on the sound card via a two ended 1/8-inch jack (the cable is 14 inches long - more than enough to fit from the 1st PCI slot to the 6th, should one be lucky enough to have that many).

    Features TV Wonder VE TV Wonder
    S-Video Input - X
    Stereo TV-Tuner - X
    Win98 Compatible X X
    Video Capture X X
    Real-Time Video Compression VCR-1 MPEG-1, VCR-1
    Digital VCR X X
    Video Magazine X X
    Closed Captioning X X
    Zoom In X X
    Video Desktop X X
    Channel Preview X X

    According to ATI's website, they will be adding the ability to integrate the TV into the web-browser, as well as an interactive program guide (whatever that is).

    As shown in the table above, the 50-dollar (USD) difference between the TV-Wonder and the TV-Wonder VE is in S-video input, having stereo sound available, and the ability to compress into mpeg-1s instead of the proprietary VCR-1 AVI format - but it seems they forgot to disable some things in the new software (more on that later).

    >> Installation/Usage

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    Article Navigation

    1. Introduction/The Card And Features
    2. Installation/Usage
    3. TV Options In-Depth
    4. Recording
    5. Still-Picture Capturing/Closed Captioning, Hotwords, And TV Magazine
    6. Conclusion

    Did you like this review?
    Product Info
    Name: TV Wonder VE
    Company: ATI
    Price: Click To Find Lowest
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