Pros Best image quality on the market
Cons Software just about unusable
Summary I have used several of these cards over the years and the quality of the video is the best I have ever seen. The installation went very smooth and I have had no issues. The software that is provided with this card is very buggy. It is really a shame because with the right software this card would be a 10. ATI must not have very good software testing. Simple features crash with no work arround. The ATI website and support are awful. I would strongly suggest that anyone that purchasing this card download the latest drivers and the ATI Multi-Media Center software. ATI MMC is better than what came with the card but it still has some pretty major bugs. If you do not mind purchasing additional software there are much better software packages available but personally I am not willing to lay out another 100+ dollars when the card is supposed to come with DVR software. This card works great with Microsoft Media Center edition which is far more stable software. If you have Media Center edition I suggest that you look under Windows XP Pro for drivers and software updates. For some reason the ATI website does not have the same software for Media Center that they make available for Win XP.
Pros great quality, low cpu usage because of on-board mpeg encoding, input break-out box
Cons terrible bundled software and no compatibility from other software vendors
Summary If I review just the hardware, this is a 9. If I review just the bundled software (May '05), that is a 2.
All good news here.
Amazing video quality. ATI got this right big time.
Audio/video synchronization perfect because both captured and encoded through the card -- no sound card delay.
Easy to install.
Great break-out box for inputs so you don't have to get in behind the machine to plug and unplug input sources.
Allows s-video in.
Very low CPU usage.
Surprised not to see it's own cooling fan.
This ruins the deal. I really don't know what ATI was thinking and I hope they read this.
Cyberlink Powercinema 3 came bundled. Unfortunately, I can't even find any vendor software that allows capturing with the hardware mpeg2 encoding already done by the chip, and believe me I was looking within a day of using Cyberlink. Even Cyberlink's own version 4 upgrade evaluation version didn't work.
The only good thing about the bundled software is that amazingly it doesn't crash. Well, I shouldn't say that -- it does generate fine mpg2's less than 2gb.
ATI put out months later an update which changed only that you could allow it to save tv/satellite to a different location/drive. But you still can't change it for video inputs.
The most annoying thing is that it splits files at 2 gb no matter what. Doesn't matter if you have NTFS drives, it doesn't auto-detect that and there is no setting to say "keep writing till out of space" or "keep writing till 6 hours are up". Stupid. Even worse, when you join the split clips, the audio and video are out of sync., so you have to trim about 2 or 3 seconds off the end of the previous clip.
Takes longer than expected to fire up the radio and switch stations.
Pros Looks super on paper
Cons Useless software, no channel guide, incomaptible
Summary On paper this looks like the best non-pro PVR hardware on the market, at a reasonable price. However it does not work with any of my Ulead capture software, and the completely lame Cyberlink PowerCinema which comes with it only allows capture to the My Videos folder on drive C. Tech support said there is no way to change this. Unlike other ATI products, this one has no program guide software (the excellent GuidePlus comes with all the others). The GUI looks like TiVo on quualudes. And kiss goodbye ATI's previously excellent choices of capture bit rates and sizes.
Pros inexpensive, easy to install
Cons worst software ever!
Summary Its unfortunate ATI has packaged this card with such terrible software (PowerCinema). This is by far the worst piece of software I've seen. Its painfully slow to start up -from the time you click on the PowerCinema icon to the time you are watching TV it takes at least 2-3 minutes. The software doesn't allow you to jump to other channels, you have to click up/down arrows forever (or use the remote). The program won't record anything larger than a half hour show (a one hour show gets broken into two files - very annoying). Despite what the manufacturer says, you can NOT change the default directory for recorded programs. Their website is completely devoid of any meaningful information and is full of spelling and grammatical mistakes! I bought this product several months ago and stopped using it after a couple of weeks.
Pros Package looks nice, remote is slick, the purple box is nice.
Cons Spent $150, 3 hours, 351 pulled hairs and still couldn't get it to work.
Summary I'm a sucker, I read everybody's reviews and said "Ahh, it'll work". Was I ever so WRONG! I have a brand new (3 days old) Win XP WME 2005 Athlon 3800+ 64 Bit 1Gig of DDR Ram, yada, yada, yada...I installed the driver, nothing. I installed the lame software, nothing. I updated windows, nothing. I updated the friggn' BIOS, NOTHING. I will never buy a product from ATI again.
ATI, this is what happends when you rush the realese of a product. By hoping to gain pennys you have lost my (and ovbiously others) busniess for good.