"Great Card BUT"4.5 starson by support_soho
Pros: spectacular picture
Cons: picture jerks and sound issues in Catalyst and outside
Summary: With a near $100 price, this card is a gift for your digital and analog TV science project.
Be forewarned that the HDTV portion will require some antenna skills (which became a lost art in the 80's) and that most of my notes are about the analog portion of the card.
I've installed the 650 in a PC running MediaCenter while a second PC running XP plays TV using an older ATI TV card. This actually opens my eyes to a lot of things.
To begin, the installation is fairly smooth. I notice that they finally got rid of the separate audio-out-to-line-in wire which was a huge headache for many. But for this to work, they have to run their own audio software called "ATIAV Analog Audio Capture" which probably still needs some work.
In fact when I first get my card running, I swear some stations have the audio out of synch with the video but I try to talk myself out of it. As well, analog channels 14 to 17 seem mistuned with no audio and no way to tune them. A third problem is that de-interlacing is poor and jerky (more detail below).
The old card is showing the same channels with none of these problems. But there is an overall delay from old card to new card of maybe a second and this where I start to clue into the "Wonder" in TV Wonder 650.
Clearly ATI is doing a huge amount of signal processing in the 650 card, (hence the delay of 1 second) to create stunning picture quality. Top marks for what they've done thus far with picture quality, they've finally entered the real world of TV though it's very sad to say good-bye to instant channel changes as every channel change now needs that 1 second of processing.
But what of my three annoying problems? I begin to call ATI but their phone message tells me to install the latest version and so I do.
With the old card working fine in the background, I notice that the latest version now has like a 1.5 second delay but lo and behold, channels 14-17 are fine now, the audio and the deinterlacing are better. It could be my imagination, but the picture seems even better so I am very very pleased that they can enhance all sorts of things with more processing/ more delay, or so it sure seems.
Though the audio synch seemed great, I later noticed that if I walked away from the PC for 2 hours, and came back, the audio was now very clearly out of synch (which could be fixed by changing the channel away and back to the original channel).
The audio synch problem seems to occur on my poorer quality cable channels. Likely where ATI is testing, the cable channels might be all top quality.
I think too that where ATI is testing they don't have a horizontal news-scrolling channel which I think is my best test of de-interlacing. With the latest driver version, this news channel still jerks a little but not a lot as it did before.
As for deinterlacing in general, I don't understand why this new ATI card delivers their "ATIAV Analog Capture" video without de-interlacing when their old card "ATI RAGE Theatre Video Capture" delivers with. Technically this seems to be a step backwards just to create some compatibilty with 1950's technology. Just Google "deinterlacer" and I think you get the deinterlace solution that everyone agrees on so why not just implement it up front and be done. I notice that even in my Catalyst program, that when I reduce my TV window from full screen, the picture occasionally jerks, and I notice this same jerking in other programs. I'm not sure if it's all related, but I think they're asking for trouble letting every different program handle de-interlacing when one standard should suffice.
Anyways, I've gone on too long and now I have to connect an antenna for HDTV (where is their signal meter?), which can be a real pain.
Bottom line, I really like the quality as well as the quality improvements that came with just with one version change. For all that it does and may still improve on, this card is a steal.Updated
july 2008 and i'm using the latest drivers and it looks like all of my issues were addressed -- sweet card