With HDTV slowing becoming the standard in broadcast television, every company making TV tuners have started to make the shift. Just drop by any Best Buy, Fry's, or Circuit City, and you can already see HDTVs becoming the predominant television stock. The US government is vying for a complete overhaul of broadcast television to DTV (not the same as HDTV) by May 2006, which means that there is some time before your regular boob tube becomes an extinct species.

The home theater PC (aka HTPC) has always been a niche market, and just recently in the past couple of years, it has started to make strides into the mainstream, mainly with Microsoft pioneering their Media Center Edition OS. Currently, the PC market is the fastest growing field for TV companies, but this has several implications. Since the traditional TV market for the entertainment room has been basically fully developed, it means that TV products made for the PC market are always going to be a bit behind the first.

This is the reason why HDTVs have come out in such force, while HDTV tuners for the PC have rarely been heard of. In fact, the only major company that we are aware of making an HDTV tuner for PCs is Hauppauge, but the WinTV-HD hasn't sold in the same volumes for Hauppauge as their analog WinTV tuners. Add in the vacuum of HDTV supported multimedia software (MCE, Beyond TV, SageTV, Multimedia Center, Forceware Multimedia, etc...), and you get a recipe for a PC market not ready to embrace HDTV technology.

This vacuum of HDTV for PCs is precisely the reason why we have been waiting for ATI's HDTV Wonder. Announced a while back (February 17, 2004), today ATI unleashes their doors and finally brings their HDTV tuner to market, bringing both hardware and software support for HDTV technology to the PC multimedia world.

The Test
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  • enricong - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    How does this compare to the MyHD2

    I have this card too. but I'm dualbooting WinXP64 because they don't have 64 bit drivers. I figure ATI will be more likely to make 64bit drivers
    Reply
  • bblake12 - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    Fact: There are several companies making HD Tuner Cards. One of the major cards out there is MyHD

    http://mcm.newark.com/NewarkWebCommerce/mcm/en_US/...



    "In fact, the only major company that we are aware of making an HDTV tuner for PCs is Hauppauge, but the WinTV-HD hasn't sold in the same volumes for Hauppauge as their analog WinTV tuners. Add in the vacuum of HDTV supported multimedia software (MCE, Beyond TV, SageTV, Multimedia Center, Forceware Multimedia, etc...), and you get a recipe for a PC market not ready to embrace HDTV technology."


    Reply
  • AndrewKu - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    #12 - 480i is the approximate quality of analog TV broadcasting. As for the tubes in some of your TVs, some do display the signal in a lower res, like 512x400. There should be several websites that have this in their information docs. Try "analog tv 480i" in google or something. So we are both kind of right… :)

    #13 - I think you make a good point, and this was something I was debating myself. My consideration was based on three other points: pricing, availability, and future software support. On the pricing issue, HDTV Wonder is at the cheapest pricing point I have heard of for a PC HDTV tuner. No other HDTV tuner can be bought or will be able to be bought at a retail store for the near future, at least according to our last talks with the stores a while back. And future software support is something that a company like ATI will have to do in order to keep their product in retail stores (i.e. EazyShare DTV). Hope that explains our line of thought a bit more.
    Reply
  • joeld - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    My take on the card - it had better be darned good/stable/etc for me to pay 200 dollars on a non-hardware HDTV tuner card. I bought a DVICO FusionHDTV last year (or maybe before that) and it was only 140 bucks or so. Reply
  • mcveigh - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    this is too limited to have earned an editor's choice.

    Andrew check out what the people at avsforums thinkof the card and it's competitors.
    Reply
  • joeld - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    I've only read to page four and I'm not too impressed with the article so far. It seems that a little more research should have been done or something before bringing the article to print. Hauppage isn't the only company bringing HDTV tuner cards to the market. I haven't been interested in HTPC's in a year at least, and I remember looking at products from MyHD and buying a tuner card from DVICO (their original FusionHDTV).

    I stopped reading this article after reading that analog signals are 640x480. It's been a while since I've researched this topic, but I know this is not true.
    Reply
  • Kaido - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    AndrewKu - I'll have to give MMC 8.8 a try. EazyShare looks really cool...does it require a good video card to run the server? I have enough spare parts to build another box, I just need a motherboard and a cpu ($29 for a cheap mobo off newegg and about $50 for a 1.8ghz athlon). I don't want to blow another $100 or $200 for a video card for a server tho.

    Also, should I install the latest version of Catalyst, or should I install 3.x like in the MMC article?
    Reply
  • AndrewKu - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    #2- It cannot function as the second device to support PiP/MultiView, but it should in a later release of MMC.

    #6 and 8 - You are sending a digital signal of a digital signal to your digital monitor. DVI output comes via your video card, not the HDTV Wonder as #7 mentioned.

    #8 - If you are talking about PAL support, this is an NTSC version. As we understand it, this is for the North American market only. This isn't really for the gamer per say; this is just a nice way to get DTV into your home without having to pay the expensive cost of a HDTV. And yes, you can just plug in an antenna to the RF connector that is what I mentioned in the review. An antenna is not necessarily analog or digital; it is the signal that is categorized as such.

    #9 - If you are having trouble with EazyShare, you might want to try looking at our MMC8.8 review. We worked out and tried to manipulate every single bug occurrence. In our experience, your system configuration should be stable with MMC and a TV Wonder Pro. Though, I am not sure what your specific issues are.
    Reply
  • Kaido - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    I have an ATI TV Wonder Pro with Remote Control...the only thing good about it is the remote control, lol. The TV software was fairly buggy for me, plus the required specs aren't really true - I had a 1.4ghz Athlon, 1gb ram, and a radeon 9600xt, and it'd still skip while recording if I even opened Internet Explorer. That and I didn't care for the GUI.

    I hope ATI has a trade-up program for their TV tuners like they do their video cards...anyone know if they do? I may go with Hauppauge next tho...their USB2 TV tuner is looking pretty good.
    Reply
  • justbrowzing - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    A few pretty basic questions from France, where DTV lags the US:

    Reception: can you just plug in an antenna to the digital jack for capture?

    Will it work in Europe, too?

    Can you use a 9600se card & still get the noted benefits? This is an extremely expensive solution ($400 USD or 500 Euros) for us non-gamers, btw, though a tidy racket for ATI.

    No DVI? So then you're sending an analog version of a digital signal to your digital-capable monitor?

    You mention Hauppage's DTV tuner, it would have been nice to have known more about its capabilities & how it compares & sacrifice a few photos of the tuna salad surprise.
    Reply

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