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  • soulader - Monday, October 06, 2008 - link

    Does anyone know if Theater 650 PRO support time shifting?? pause live tv etc..
    thank you.
    Reply
  • madprof - Saturday, February 02, 2008 - link

    Apart from being able to input tv signals, does this card not allow for the output of video back to the tv? i.e. playing an avi movie on the aux input of the tv Reply
  • JustJack - Wednesday, October 04, 2006 - link

    A lot of people seem to like the Hauppauge cards, but I will tell you that if they dont come out with 64 bit drivers for the 250 for Vista, I will never buy another Hauppauge card! I think that XP Pro 64 bit has been out for over a year and they still dont have drivers for that version. The only Vista 64 bit drivers are for the 150/500. Reply
  • edlight - Tuesday, September 05, 2006 - link

    You get a TV card to watch TV and hope it will make something fine out of the dirty cable signal (that's what those new filters are for) and will pull in DTV well.

    Instead we read about how it does with a DVD. No way.

    Please, think.
    Reply
  • jonp - Tuesday, August 08, 2006 - link

    It's August 8th and I can't find any 650 tuner cards anywhere that are available. Does anyone (AT included) know when they (from any producer, ati, sapphire, msi...) are going to become available? Every article on the web said July. Hope this isn't more vaporware. Jon Reply
  • toddbailey - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link

    I get all of 3 hdtv channels ota, big deal. I get more via satellite.
    But can I record any of them onto my PC? Oh Hell NO! When are the people who make this stuff going to build something I can actually use? I and very possibly several others want a device to capture component, rgb, dvi or hdmi video signals. The closest I found is component to sdi on firewire, but sad to say it's only ntsc resolution.
    For those who have capture via firewire, more power to you, But for my service (no cable tv available in my area), Dish network doesn't offer this capability.

    any one want to em me in person ? talk to me at toddb@toddbailey.net
    thanks
    Reply
  • Wellsoul2 - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link

    Hi,

    I have the ATI HDTV wonder tuner card and it works fine.
    Excellent 1080i picture from ATSC tuner. Easylook software ok.
    Remote ok. Works fine with ATItools and updated drivers etc.
    Runs fine with 9600XT and 146Opteron.

    What software/hardware will give me better experience with OTA ATSC?
    Forget NTSC..I have ancient Hauppauge cards that do it fine.

    Why should I spend more money and what benefit?
    I don't care about qam or Windews Megamedia monopoly..

    For free I already get a great HDTV picture OTA. Maybe I could use hardware
    encoding or filtering on DVD's.
    Paid $75 for a used HDTV wonder with Antenna and remote..why pay more?
    Also..what is DVD/HDTV benefit upgrading video card?
    SOme say 1600 ATI only does 780p and you need 1800plus to do 1080i..
    WHat does this mean? will it really help my OTA HDTV experience?
    Reply
  • millerbrad - Monday, June 19, 2006 - link

    http://www.atitech.ca/products/theater650pro/specs...">The specs on ATIs website indicate that this cards uses 720x480 MPEG-2 compression.

    Does this mean that the cards won't actually output 720p or 1080i resolutions when watching digital television?
    Reply
  • Wellsoul2 - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link

    It seems to say it does hardware MPEG2 compression at that resolution.

    ATI's info is not great but my lowly HDTV Wonder card does software
    compression in MPEG4 at a higher resolution so I assume this card
    will do SOFTWARE compression at higher resolutions for recordings.

    Yes..you can definitely watch at 1080i..it's referring to recordings to your
    hard drive.
    It probably also does time shifting and recording HDTV since my older
    HDTV wonder will do that. You take a hit with software encoding since
    your CPU does it.

    Hopefully Anandtech can explain this further since I am a novice.

    Reply
  • MrJim - Saturday, June 17, 2006 - link

    Is there a cheap good Tv-card which has both hardware encoder/decoder? Reply
  • dettociao - Friday, June 16, 2006 - link

    I have to say, this is nowhere near what I expected in the next TV-Tuner review from AT. After getting thrashed for the last one, you'd think they'd put some effort into it. Reply
  • Trisped - Thursday, June 15, 2006 - link

    quote:

    We were very appreciative of all of the comments and suggestions from the last TV Tuner article (the NVIDIA DualTV MCE) and hope to provide better coverage of this card and it's features this time around.
    Yea! That last one really needed work.

    What is all that stuff around the big chip in http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/multimedia/tvt...">http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/mul...a/tvtune... (page 2, pic 2)? There is also the same looking stuff on the picture above it, around the 650 chip.

    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/multimedia/tvt...">http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/mul...r650/the... (page 2, pic 3) is nice, but it would be nicer to view it at the original size so we can read the chart and url

    quote:

    For reference, the power draw of the system without a TV tuner card installed was 145 Watts.
    Thanks, I was just going to ask that.
    quote:

    , there wasn't a difference between the power load of the system while watching and watching/recording with the Theater 650.
    Are you sure that it isn’t always recording? I know with the latest MMC it is set to always record so you have the DVR functionality. I haven’t used MCE before, so maybe you can turn it off.

    With channel Switch Speed we know it is 2 seconds, but what about the latency between broadcast and display? Can you play games on it, or will there be the same 2 second delay? To test this I suggest hooking up a standard CRT to the same video feed and observing the time difference.

    quote:

    ATI provided us with a DVD that contains some test videos to compare image quality between these three cards. To allay any suspicions of foul play, these test videos were created by SMPTE (the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) for the express purpose of testing analog television quality. (page 5)
    If you changed it to, “Provided with the card was a DVD from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE). On the DVD were test videos designed for the express purpose of testing analog television quality.” Then people never think to question the source of the DVD.

    On page 5 the low quality .jpg make the quality look worse then it is. You could try setting it on 100-120 quality or saving it as a .bmp and zipping it so we can check it if we want.

    Compatibility checking would be nice, but I guess that is what the forums are for. Also, what software besides the MMC/CMC from ATI and WMCE does it work with? Can you use a 550 and a 650 in the same system at the same time(to get the dual tuner abilities)? Does the ATI MMC/CMC support dual tuner setups, or do you have to use WMCE?

    A review with a Hauppauge card in the whole thing would be nice, as a comparison of its picture quality and power drain would be nice. Still, I can understand the time constraints and the fact that you probably had to give the card back once you had reviewed it.

    This was defiantly a better review then the last one. There is still room for improvement, but it is not as noticeable as last time.
    Reply
  • Druthers - Thursday, June 15, 2006 - link

    How did you come up with your power usage ratings?

    I find it hard to believe that the PCI bus can supply 150 Watts. I do not see any aux. power connectors on this board.

    Thank you,

    Druthers
    Reply
  • BigLan - Thursday, June 15, 2006 - link

    That is total system draw, not just the card. The system without the cards drew 145 watts, so recording accounted for an extra 25-30 watts, some of which will be from the hard drive and cpu. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, June 15, 2006 - link

    this is correct Reply
  • Josh Venning - Thursday, June 15, 2006 - link

    Just wanted to say thanks to all those who offered construcive criticism about the article. We always are concerned with what our readers want to see in our reviews so we can make them better. That said I'd just like to mention that as Jarred said, this article is written more as a preview of a part that isn't available yet, and so there is only a certain level of depth that we can go as far as testing and such. But again, thanks to all who posted and rest assured we will continue to work on improving our reviews based on your comments. Reply
  • BigLan - Thursday, June 15, 2006 - link

    If this is really a preview instead of a full review, you might want to go back and do a find/replace. It looks like you've made some changes to the text already, might as well finish the job.

    Page 1
    There are a few other features of the Theater 650 and of course we'll be looking at all of them further in the review.

    we are very concerned with what our readers want to see in a TV tuner card review. That said, in this review of ATI's Theater 650,

    Page 3
    but for this review we will be adding a section on CPU utilization

    Page 6
    We haven't included one in this review either
    Reply
  • Pandamonium - Thursday, June 15, 2006 - link

    I still can't believe you left out Hauppauge's product line. Hauppauge is the industry standard for discrete tuner/capture cards. ATI only released the 550 about a year or two ago.

    I thought our comments actually had weight? The review only addressed the most blatant error in the first review: comparing image quality with two completely different images. You can't run a scientific experiment without a control - it's a pretty elementary truth. The (slightly) more subtle error was the omission of Hauppauge's product lines. Most HTPC owners run Hauppauge PCB, it would make sense to include the products for readers' reference.

    Lastly, why did we not see photos of the rear ports? The reviewer wrote that there are "Antenna/FM and cable TV inputs, as well as an audio/video input at the bottom." Antenna typically (AFAIK) refers to OTA television. This statement would imply that there are at least 4 inputs. The images appear to show that there is only room for 3 inputs. Besides, what kind of AV input includes audio and video in one small jack? The only one I know if is HDMI. If reference boards feature HDMI inputs, it'd be good to know. Perhaps it's better this way: I'm sure the competent boys at newegg will have a backplate photo.
    Reply
  • edlight - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Since so many of us have cable, it would be better to try it out with cable and see if it gets rid of the video noise and makes a nice picture, or the usual fuzzy, grainy, washed-out, dark picture. How can we know what it does? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    [Warning: Lengthy post follows. This is a general response to many of the comments in general. I figured I would put it on it's own thread as a convenient place to put together all of my thoughts on the matter. Maybe this will clarify a few things as well.]

    I think it was made clear in the article that cards using the Theater 650 chip won't be available until July at the earliest. That means the software and potentially hardware used for this test is not in final form, which also accounts for the reason why some testing wasn't done. In particular, I'm pretty sure the Catalyst Media Center application is not yet ready for final testing, but since I'm not the one doing the article I can't say that for sure. As you can't actually go out and purchase this card today, it should be pretty clear that this is a "preview" instead of an actual review of final hardware.

    Basically, we as reviewers are often put in a "chicken versus egg" situation: do we hold off writing an article about some new hardware because it's not yet available for purchase? What if the BIOS still has a few bugs, or some of the software isn't ready? Obviously, you can't go out and purchase a Theater 650 card right now, but if we didn't at least tell people what's coming in the near future, we're also failing to do our job as journalists. This card definitely looks to be better than the Theater 550, with DTV support, some new image quality enhancements, and software that will allow you to enable/disable filters as you see fit.

    As for the Hauppauge cards not being included, two links were provided to a http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2393">previous
    article where the Hauppauge PVR-250 was reviewed. Quoting from that earlier review: "Without a doubt, our two favorites from this review are Hauppauge's WinTV PVR-250 and ATI's TV Wonder Elite [a Theater 550 card], with the overall win going to ATI for the TV Wonder Elite." And elsewhere: "Compared to the second place Hauppauge card, the differences are much more subtle, but in back-to-back comparisons, you do notice differences between the two cards. The Hauppauge does appear to have higher levels of color saturation, but the TV Wonder Elite seems to produce a more 'correct' image." Minor differences in taste might make others prefer the Hauppauge, so what we're saying is that between the two it is very close to a tie.

    The Hauppauge cards haven't really changed at all in over a year. Do we need to include socket 754 Athlon 64 and Pentium 4 478 in current CPU articles? Do we need to talk about the Radeon X800 and GeForce 6800 cards in new GPU reviews? That's basically what you're asking us to do, and while some people might find information helpful, it's not an effective use of time. The Hauppauge cards are very good in terms of image quality, but we still give the ATI Theater 550 a slight edge. Should we re-review both cards periodically to see if things have changed?

    Basically, it sounds to me like a bunch of people already own Hauppauge cards and simply want us to confirm that they are the best card on the market. Well, that depends largely on what you plan on doing with the card, and there are definitely some differences of opinion on which card is actually best. If you want to use a tuner with Linux or OS X, Hauppauge is certainly a great choice - probably the best choice, thout I can't speak from personal experience. If you already own a Hauppauge card, I definitely wouldn't upgrade to a Theater 550, because the differences are too small to really bother me. If you're buying a new TV tuner, however, then you probably want to purchase what we consider to be the best product. In terms of image quality, we would still give the edge to the Theater 550, and the Theater 650 slightly improves on that (but isn't yet available). The DTV support definitely puts it ahead of the competition.

    The bigger problem with image quality is going to be using a standard analog signal in the first place. If you're truly concerned with image quality, upgrade to HDTV, because even the best analog tuner looks like garbage when compared to an HDTV signal. Of course, that also means you need to live in an area where you can get reasonable OTA HDTV reception.... I don't, which is why I wrote http://www.anandtech.com/multimedia/showdoc.aspx?i...">this article
    - yes, I'm still bitter about the fact that I can't get OTA DTV reception. I think we've pretty much maxed out on analog TV quality, so all of the best analog tuners are relatively similar. (There are still plenty of tuners available that have very poor quality, but I don't think any of these cards fall into that category.) If you really want image quality there's no competition between analog TV and HDTV -- and the same can be said of TV tuner cards.

    So why didn't we review the DTV capabilities of this card? Time constraints, location, pre-release status, and the fact that we would then be comparing apples and oranges. If you can actually get OTA HDTV reception, the fact of the matter is that it doesn't really make a difference what card you use to receive the signal. You are still capturing an MPEG-2 transport stream, so provided your signal is clear you will get the same quality. The difference will then come down to decoding hardware/software, but even the worst HDTV decoder will look better than the best analog decoder. You simply can't compete with videos that contain about six times as much data. I mean, what's better: a 1280x720 medium quality JPEG image, or a 512x384 ultra high quality JPEG image? Now what about 1280x720 high-quality JPEG versus 512x384 high-quality JPEG? My experience with DTV, however, is that OTA reception only matters if you live in/near a really big city. Otherwise, you will probably be getting an HD signal from your cable or satellite provider anyway.

    This is a lengthy post, and I'm not simply defending one of our writers. I read and reread this article, and a couple of us (Derek and myself) edited things a bit. Is the article perfect? No, but then few articles are. I could nitpick a few areas, but they really wouldn't change the overall content of the article. This article could easily be summarized with: "ATI is releasing a new Theater 650 card that should match or exceed the quality of the Theater 550 in all areas. That should make it the best single tuner analog TV card on the market, and as an added bonus you get digital TV reception." The article is basically an elaboration of that statement, with some testing to back it up.

    That's pretty much what most of our articles are: background information, technical overview, real-world testing, and a conclusion. Do we really need an official statement saying Hauppauge makes good TV tuners? Do we need to do testing on every single OS that's currently available? Do we need to talk about the benefits of dual tuners over single tuners? Do we need to test "every card currently available"? Again, there are time constraints that come into play, and we would simply end up testing until the proverbial cows come home, with nary an article in sight. If you already own a good-quality TV tuner and you're not unhappy with the performance, I wouldn't be worrying about upgrading anyway. Unless of course you're thinking about adding digital TV reception.

    I hope that explains at least my perspective on this type of article. We're trying to provide additional coverage of the HTPC market, but we can't simply start out and compare new products to every single product on the market. We don't do that with any of our product reviews, as we assume our readers understand the transitive property of mathematics. If A > B and B > C, how does A compared to C? If A ~= B and B ~= C, A ~= C. I think you get the point. The short summary:

    *ANY* OTA HDTV signal >>> Analog T650 >= T550 >= Hauppauge >= DualTV :)

    I've used quite a few TV tuners, I've used some HDTV tuners, and if I were seriously in the market for a device to do recording and timeshifting of TV content, I would still just pay Comcast $10 per month for the upgrade. It might cost a bit more in the long run, but the convenience factor is definitely still on the side of consumer electronics. I really hope that CableCARD changes all that, as the biggest problem with cable TV PVR devices is that they rarely include enough hard drive space, and they charge you obscene amounts for HDD upgrades.

    Regards,
    Jarred Walton
    Editor
    AnandTech.com
    Reply
  • Mumrik - Thursday, June 15, 2006 - link

    Still, why didn't you touch on the Hardware DRM?
    None of us know what this element means for the card and it MIGHT just be the deal breaker that makes this card WORSE than the 550.

    You need to look into stuff like that, or somebody's going to make a purchase based on this "review" and quite possibly be very disappointed.
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, June 15, 2006 - link

    quote:

    The Hauppauge cards haven't really changed at all in over a year. Do we need to include socket 754 Athlon 64 and Pentium 4 478 in current CPU articles? Do we need to talk about the Radeon X800 and GeForce 6800 cards in new GPU reviews? That's basically what you're asking us to do, and while some people might find information helpful, it's not an effective use of time. The Hauppauge cards are very good in terms of image quality, but we still give the ATI Theater 550 a slight edge. Should we re-review both cards periodically to see if things have changed?


    Below are the updates I found for the Hauppauge WinTV PVR-150, the card that has mostly replaced the PVR-250 with better quality and a single chip solution

    http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/support/support_pvr...">http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/support/support_pvr...

    Name: pvr150_500_basedriver_2043_24103.zip
    Size: 2.2MB
    Updated: April 13, 2006

    WinTV2000 application update for the WinTV-PVR-150
    Name: wintv2k411_23347.exe
    Size: 2.5 Mb
    Updated: Dec. 15, 2005

    WinTV video decoder update
    Name: hcwsmd05_23290.exe
    Version: 5.0_23290
    Size: 1996K
    Updated: Oct. 17, 2005


    I'd call that updated in the past year. When video cards are updated, Anandtech and others test to see if increased performance and/or image quality results. Are you saying the same should not be done with TV Tuner cards?

    P.S. I could be wrong, but I don't recall you testing the WinTV PVR-150, which is considered by most HTPC enthusiasts to be a much better replacement of the PVR-250. If I'm wrong, apologies. If I'm right, then Hauppauge's cards have changed indeed since you tested the PVR-250.

    Reply
  • BigLan - Thursday, June 15, 2006 - link

    "The Hauppauge cards haven't really changed at all in over a year. Do we need to include socket 754 Athlon 64 and Pentium 4 478 in current CPU articles? Do we need to talk about the Radeon X800 and GeForce 6800 cards in new GPU reviews?"

    Two problems with this, Jarred. First is that the Hauppauge 250 got replaced with the 150, which offered better image quality and a lower price. Anand has never compared the 150 to the 550, or any other card. Sure you can say it's similar to the MCE500, but you didn't mention that in this article, only the 250.

    Next up is that you actually did compare the X800 and 6800 cards to modern GPUs in the Oblivion article.
    Reply
  • Crucial - Thursday, June 15, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Do we need to include socket 754 Athlon 64 and Pentium 4 478 in current CPU articles? Do we need to talk about the Radeon X800 and GeForce 6800 cards in new GPU reviews?


    If the S754 and S478 cpus were the last ones to be made and still the more popular cpu your darn right you do. The comparison to video cards and cpu's doesn't hold up because there aren't new tuner cards coming out every 6 months. Many people here don't agree with the statements that the 650 screenshots look better. Just because somethings new doesn't mean it's automaticaly better.

    quote:

    if I were seriously in the market for a device to do recording and timeshifting of TV content, I would still just pay Comcast $10 per month for the upgrade. It might cost a bit more in the long run, but the convenience factor is definitely still on the side of consumer electronics.


    As for that comment, are you writing these reviews for yourself or for the readers of the site? With an attidude like this it's no wonder the review doesn't cover half of what it should.

    quote:

    Basically, it sounds to me like a bunch of people already own Hauppauge cards and simply want us to confirm that they are the best card on the market.


    Basically it sounds to me like you only have a Theatre550 card and dont want to take the time or spend the money to review a hauppage card. That or ATI is pulling the strings and won't let you. If thats the case just say so and alot of the flack will go away. You can try and justify your attitude towards these reviews but it is not what a majority of the readers want to see.
    Reply
  • hondaman - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    The Hauppauge cards haven't really changed at all in over a year. Do we need to include socket 754 Athlon 64 and Pentium 4 478 in current CPU articles? Do we need to talk about the Radeon X800 and GeForce 6800 cards in new GPU reviews? That's basically what you're asking us to do, and while some people might find information helpful, it's not an effective use of time. The Hauppauge cards are very good in terms of image quality, but we still give the ATI Theater 550 a slight edge. Should we re-review both cards periodically to see if things have changed?


    Thats some seriously flawed logic. In every review, one _always_ compares, HEAD TO HEAD, the king(s) of the hill vs. the newcommers. This goes for cpus, video, hd's, and yes, even capture cards.

    The bottom line duty of a capture card is to capture video. It doesnt matter an ounce that you previously reviewed a card. Image quality is something we must see for ourselves, and allow us to decide what looks best. That means running the SAME tests on the SAME capture cards.
    Reply
  • jeremyk442 - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Am I the only one who seems to think that the 650 looked worse than the 550 on the tomato shot? The differences in the stills were extremely subtle and give no indication of how much difference you would notice while using it. And this whole review felt like an advertisement for ati's new chip rather than a valid comparison (especially the image quality). Reply
  • JNo - Saturday, June 17, 2006 - link

    I agree. The 650 was praised (vs the 550) for warmer colours but in actual fact, the 550 shot was the only one where the woman's skin tone seemed more natural and you could make out extra *details* on her that were smoothed over in the other 2 cards e.g. just above and below her lips if I remember correctly. "Brighter" colours aren't always better if they just create colours that aren't in the signal. Hey, we could all just turn up the colour bar on our TVs for a better picture if that were the case... Reply
  • BigLan - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Looking closer at the tomato shot, I think there's something messed up in the GualTV test. It looks like there's some ghosting going on, which is either a problem with the tuner chip or a problem with the setup. I don't believe that the dual tuner could have that big an issue tuning channels without the community having noticed by now, which suggests the test setup is wrong. Reply
  • mostlyprudent - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    This is a relatively new area of interest for me. Can some one point me to some information on which, if any, of these cards supports a signal from setalite sources? I have a dual tuner receiver and want to use my PC as the other output (my DVR is filling up and I would like to capture some of the prgramming to archive on my hard drive). Wow, I feel like a newbie! Reply
  • SHSPVR - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    No it do not supports a signal direct from setalite LNB you must used a sat receiver and I hate tell you but dual tuner sat receiver suck becuase of the fact that there are NO Blaster that support UHF Transmit signal so there for your SOL with 2nd TV output but you can setup the 1st TV output becuases it base on Standard IR Transmit signal.
    Reply
  • BigLan - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    htpcnews.com and thegreenbutton.com would be two good places to start. There's no card available in the US that can tune a satelite signal directly - they all rely on the set top box connected via s-video. Any of the cards reviewed here, or the Hauppauge PVR series will be able to handle that task. Reply
  • vailr - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    I'm using a TV Wonder Pro, which has much less tuning lag time than the 2 seconds shown for the Theater 650. Maybe: mention alternate choices for those wanting a TV card with less tuning lag time. An exhaustive TV card review would include ALL the various ATI cards, the Hauppauge cards, Avermedia, MSI, nVidia, and several of the high-end HDTV cards, such as the Fusion HDTV. (Some are designed to only work with Windows MCE). There's even a "Linux-only" TV card available. Suggestion: Maybe, partner with Newegg, and do a mini comparison review of every TV tuner card available thru them? And ending with an "Editor's choice" TV card. Reply
  • pjladyfox - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    I'm going to second this idea. A nice TV Tuner card roundup, covering ALL, available cards thru Newegg would be something I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in; possibly even asking for suggestions on questions to focus on for such a roundup.
    Reply
  • darkfoon - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Thirding.
    I have a hauppauge WinTV 250, although I wish I had something that gives me more control over the denoising aspects, or does better denoising (My signal quality is entirely dependant on whether Comcast feels like screwing its standard Basic customers on any given day)
    I'd really like an article that compares even cards that I don't know about; cards that could better suit my needs.
    Reply
  • pjladyfox - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    I usually look forward to reviews posted on Anandtech due to the depth and detail provided but this one has got to be the worst one I've seen to date. Here's just a sample of questions and details that should have been covered:

    a. Why was there no mention and/or details given in regards to the DRM hardware that has been mentioned in the press release?

    b. Why was this card not paired onto a system using a X1600-series video card to test the AVIVO integration?

    c. Why was there no details given about the Catalyst Media Center beyond just it being a footnote?

    d. Why was there no details given about other PVR software, such as BeyondTV, support being available?

    e. Why was there no details given in regards to capturing from other sources, such as VCR's, from the review?

    f. Why was there no details given in regards to the MPEG-4 hardware utilization during the CPU testing?

    I mean, Goddess, I could go on and on about just what was missing from this article but I'm sure many more will ask the same question; was this truely a review or just a PR article?
    Reply
  • SHSPVR - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    f. Why was there no details given in regards to the MPEG-4 hardware utilization during the CPU testing?

    bad news I found out that the 650 dosen't have a hardware trasoncoder it using ref to Soft Avivo Video Converter so there for MPEG4, DivX, WMV9, H.264 it done in REALtime Hardware
    Reply
  • SHSPVR - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Done there not edit post button

    bad news I found out that the 650 dosen't have a hardware trasoncoder it using ref to Soft Avivo Video Converter so there for MPEG4, DivX, WMV9, H.264 it not done in REALtime Hardware
    Reply
  • pjladyfox - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Pardon my language but WTF?! Then how the heck are they able to say that they are Microsoft Vista premium logo ready??

    Here is a snip from a Dailytech article at http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=2842">http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=2842:

    ----------------------------

    The following are requirements for Windows Vista Premium logo-compliant PC and will be mandated by June 1st, 2007:

    * Must have H.264 hardware decoding
    * Must have HDCP
    * Must support multi-monitor support
    * Must have HD audio
    * Must have HD audio jack presence detection
    * Must have Serial ATA 2.5
    * Must have minimum of 50MB NV cache on hybrid HD's with at least 8MB/sec write 16MB/sec read (for mobile only)
    * Must support booting from USB flash drives
    * Must have Windows Vista Green Button on all remotes
    * Must have Green Driver Quality Rating (DQR)
    o Green score of 7 to 9
    o Yellow score of 4 o 6
    o Red score of 1 to 3

    ----------------------------

    I'm really starting to re-considering the Happauge cards at this point. -_-
    Reply
  • SHSPVR - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    I guest you didn't read it very well hardware decoding is not the same as hardware encoding Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Mod parent up. He hits every piece of constructive criticism for this article dead on.

    Good to know about the product, and that Anandtech listens and improves (the nVidia DualTV article was worse) but so much important information was left out of this one.

    If the information wasn't available at the time, then Anandtech either should have waited to do the article, or made very clear that this was a very early preview. After owning several ATI TV tuners myself, I know what every ATI xxWonder owner knows --don't buy one until you've heard from others how their Multimedia Center software works, and whether the kinks are worked out. ATI's had a lot of nagging bugs with this software and Anandtech didn't even cover this ground. Add to that the issue of the DRM hardware, quite possibly THE single most important factor in whether Anandtech readers might buy this card or not, and hardly any mention of support under non-MCE Windows versions or third-party products (those that most of us would if we found that Catalyst Media Center sucked) and this article is mostly sizzle, very little steak.
    Reply
  • pjladyfox - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    She actually. ^__^

    The one thing that really irked me over the 550, which pretty much forced us to go with the X1800 AIW instead, is that without MCE 2005 it was not a very useful card. Heck, we did'nt even have the fallback of the Multimedia Center, which a lot of us who have had either ATI AIW or their stand-alone TV tuner learned to live with, and instead got shafted with the terrible bundled software. :P I mean, come on, if you bundled the nice Adobe software with the AIW why not at least do it with your tuner cards instead of pawning off the third-rate discount bin stuff?

    In either event I'm hoping that whoever did this article re-labels this one since this is definatly NOT a review in any sense of the term.



    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, June 15, 2006 - link

    quote:

    She actually. ^__^


    Ouch! I'm so sorry. No disrespect intended. :)

    quote:

    The one thing that really irked me over the 550, which pretty much forced us to go with the X1800 AIW instead, is that without MCE 2005 it was not a very useful card. Heck, we did'nt even have the fallback of the Multimedia Center, which a lot of us who have had either ATI AIW or their stand-alone TV tuner learned to live with, and instead got shafted with the terrible bundled software. :P I mean, come on, if you bundled the nice Adobe software with the AIW why not at least do it with your tuner cards instead of pawning off the third-rate discount bin stuf

    That's why at the time I went with a Hauppauge WinTV PVR-150. My TV Wonder PCI is fine for just watching (provided you use very specific versions of ATI's MMC software, as some have seriously broken the audio setup in their push to go from analog to digital across the PCI bus) but all the software solutions I saw were most compatible with Hauppauge boards at the time over the Theater 550. In fact, GB-PVR, my personal favorite, is great when paired with any PVR-xxx card. Bonus: it's free.

    I got a ReplayTV on the cheap with a lifetime subscription, so I dismantled my HTPC. Still, I'd love to replace my TV Wonder with a good card for casual use in my main system. With the lack of information on DVR and Catalyst Multimedia Center, this card won't be it. And I'm in full agreement of you that this article does NOT constitute a review.
    Reply
  • SHSPVR - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    In ABC it all get this error
    6/14/2006 11:35:54 AM - Problem connecting to tracker - (10049, "Can't assign requested address")
    Reply
  • hondaman - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    I fail to understand why you think its acceptable to leave out the DEFACTO capture card. AGAIN. Hauppauge is the clear industry giant in video capture, and you publish another article, flippantly referencing us to your previous review of the card. Image quality is subjective, and its important to allow us to see, and judge, the image quality instead of your "just trust me" attitude.

    Leaving hauppauge out of a capture card review would be like reviewing ATI's latest video card, and comparing it to SIS instead of nvidia.
    Reply
  • Myrandex - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    One disappointing *feature* I discovered on my Theater 550 PCIE that is EXTREMELY IRRITATING is lag with the video in ports. I tried hooking up a game system to it, and if I hit the jump button for example, I would have to wait a little bit for my character to jump. I'm not talking anythign like either, I'm talking extremely noticeable. Itried contacting powercolor help, and they said update drivers (already did) and somethign else, and then quit responding to me. Is there anyway that this can be tested as if I would have known this ahead of time, I don't think I would have purchased it. Reply
  • nvmarino - Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - link

    If you want to connect a game console to your display via your PC you want one of these:

    http://www.simplifidigital.com/shopsimplifi/index....">http://www.simplifidigital.com/shopsimp.../index.p...

    As others have commented, tuners cards (especially those with hardware encoders) are not designed for this.
    Reply
  • mattsimis - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    I agree, I had to get rid of my Theater 550 setup (and seems 650 is as bad) and swap back to a 7year old Brooktree 878 based TV Capture card due to the lag. The BT878 has a delay of about less than 100msec, its excellent.

    I have to use the Svideo Input on TV Cap Cards as the Satelite TV service here (Sky "Digital") uses encrypted signals that can only be decoder on their decoder box. Once you decode it, you can output the raw video signal (SCART RGB to Svideo adapter). I then input this into DScaler. Image quality was a bit better on the Theater 550, however the lag was unusable.

    From the article it seems the lag isnt just on the Video Inputs, but the TV Tuning too, so contary to the other reply, seems everyone will notice it. Cant understand how a 2000msec delay is considered "ok" for product release.


    Matt
    Reply
  • BigLan - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    "Cant understand how a 2000msec delay is considered "ok" for product release."
    These types of TV cards are designed for watching TV (not video games) and specifically for timeshifting/recording TV using a PVR application with a built in TV Guide, so channel surfing isn't necessary. For that purpose a 2 second delay doesn't really matter.

    What you want is a transcoder, which is a different beast altogether.
    Reply
  • sirfergy - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    That is because it has to encode the signal. You aren't supposed to use it as a video input to your computer for consoles. Reply
  • Crucial - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Your choice to not include the Hauppage cards was a slap in the face of everyone who asked for them and nothing short of a joke. The Hauppage cards are by far the more popular product and it would make more sense to compare them for those of us who might buy the new card if they infact are better. If your video card reviews followed the same pattern as your tv tuner reviews you would be the laughing stock of the internet. We want a screenshot of the apple, pattern and girl on a hauppage card to see for ourselves which card looks better. I'm guessing the couple of years old pvr150 would look better than all of them and ATI wouldn't let you show it. If not then do a couple more tests and update the review.

    As for the DTV portion of these cards, I'm sorry that you don't get DTV reception in your area but I couldn't care less. Millions of us do and use it. If Anandtech is going to be a top quality review site they need to find a reviewer who can get it. Important things to know about the DTV would be can a digital and analog channel be recorded at the same time? What kind of cpu usage does the tuner use when recording both or watching an analog and watching a digital? Can MCE use 2 of these cards and record 2 analog and 2 digital channels at once?

    Each time I see these reviews I hope you change you tune and do a real comparison of whats out there and being used instead of being the puppet for the corporation thats giving you free product to play with.
    Reply
  • Egglick - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    I don't know about you guys, but I'm not as convinced as the reviewer that the 650 has better image quality. It's clearly got better color than the 550, but I see alot more noise and artifacts. Take a look at the top corners of the tomato, and the added noise (around everything) in the test pattern. This is likely due to the "edge enhancement" feature, but that should've been turned off before running tests like this.

    I also agree that there should have been a Hauppauge card included, as well as alot more discussion on the DTV features of the card.
    Reply
  • BigLan - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    It could also be that the 550 setup was using an MPEG2 setting with a lower bitrate than the 650 or Nvidia card. Nothing about that was mentioned, but hopefully they'll have chosen the same on each system.

    Actually a comparison using different quality settings would have been very nice to have seen, as reportedly the dual tuner produces a better picture at a lower bitrate than other cards. This can be an important feature for some consumers who are willing to trade off some PQ and record at 1 GB/hour rather than 3 or 4 GB to get much longer recording time from their PVR.

    I'll also note that no system specs were given either. Are we looking at a 2.4ghz p4, X2 or Conroe system here? Other comments have covered the lack of HDTV testing.

    Lastly - the Hauppauge 150 is actually better than the 250. I don't think anand has ever looked at it, so I don't know how they would know the quality of it. While the 150 is cheaper than the 250, it is a newer, better card.
    Reply
  • Araemo - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    CPU Usage numbers are fairly useless without knowing what CPU the test system is running.

    100% usage on a p3 is going to be noticeably less annoying on an FX-60(And will max out at '50%', since it will only use 1 core... I know there is only one graph showing in task manager, but task manager has the option of showing only one graph no matter how many CPUs you have, so that isn't really definitive.)

    If you guys did say what CPU it is(and what the whole system is?), I missed it.
    Reply
  • Squidward - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Did you guys get to use the new Catalyst Media Center software at all? I've been curious how it compares to the old MMC software that's had the same nappy interface since 1995. Reply
  • Mumrik - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Why didn't you touch on the hardware DRM engine that's mentioned in ATi's press release?
    A lot of us really want to know what the heck they're up to with that...
    Reply
  • pjladyfox - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    I was wondering this myself since it will factor greatly into the purchase of any tuner hardware. Reply
  • archcommus - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Would you say the improved image quality is worth selling my 550 card for? Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    I want a card with dual ATSC tuners! There's a company with a reference design out for a year or more, yet no one is making this type of card. Reply
  • Chadder007 - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    No QAM support....No Care. Reply
  • AlexWade - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    No HDTV support....No care.

    Seriously, when are ATI and NVidia going to realize regular TV is going to be cut off soon? We have less than 3 years to go all digital, and new SDTV cards keep coming out. Brilliant.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    The T650 does support DTV (see page 2). Also note that SDTV is still digital in nature, so what you really mean is that all new analog tuners keep coming out. Even when we are all running 100% DTV, we will still have lower resolution broadcasts (unfortunately). Anyway, reviewing cards that do DTV reception is more of a case of reviewing software and interfaces as opposed to hardware; as long as the signal is strong enough to get reception, you get the pure digital content. I suppose better tuners might somehow deal with lower quality signals, but there's only so much that can be done before you just can't reconstruct an image. (I can't test OTA DTV in my location because I don't get reception - at all. Good thing I can get HDTV via Comcast... though I wish there were more HD content as opposed to SDTV, and more HD channels would be nice as well.) Reply
  • scavio - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Digital does not equal HDTV. Analog does not equal SDTV. Fortunately, the well paid folks at ATI know a lot more about where TV is going than you do.

    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Again...

    "Basically, the Theater 650 provides digital TV support in ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) for US, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea,"

    If you can pick up an HDTV station, this card can tune it in.
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Uh... Did you read the article? The card DOES support HDTV. For some reason, AT did not review that part of the card. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    As far as I know, the http://www.anandtech.com/multimedia/showdoc.aspx?i...">two HD cards in this review represent the only QAM capable cards currently on the market (not counting earlier versions as separate cards). Rather unfortunate, though the Fusion5 has gotten a bit better in the past 6 months. Reply
  • fanbanlo - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    This is indeed a much better review. Hope to see a follow up once the Catalyst MMC is available.

    Thank you.
    Reply
  • defiantsf - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Can't wait to get this new card even though I have the HDTV Wonder already. Would the Wonder and the T650 work together to effectively give me two tuners for watching and recording two different channels?

    Regarding MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 encoding via the MMC, will it be real-time or need to be transcoded non-realtime from MPEG-2? Hardware based or uses the CPU to do so? AVC is of utmost interest to me since I want a PC-based SD/HD video server for my HDTV :)

    Looking forward to the MMC follow-up review!

    Reply
  • darkfoon - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    I'm really interested in purchasing one of these, however, I do not plan on making a dedicated Media Center PC, so I wonder if this will work with a computer that doesn't have windows XP MCE(I prefer to use win2k, personally) ?
    So, will it work with, for example, Sage TV on a "regular" desktop?
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Beyond TV 4.3 released last week supports the new Theater 650 in both digital and analog mode. Reply
  • darkfoon - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Will there be support by any of the free TV viewing applications? Reply
  • rqle - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Currently own a Theater 550 chipset and i like it much better then my roommate nvidia dualTV one. My question is, can i buy another Theater550 so i can dualTV, would the system go crazy on me? Would like to have dual screen running different sport program at once and would be cheaper for me as well. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    that would work fine Reply
  • Woodchuck2000 - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    When is Anandtech going to publish a decent article on TV tuners? In no particular order:

    Why use ATI promotional material that is designed to prove that the 650 is better than the 550? Use your own material if you want a fair test. More to the point, why transcode it? Im sorry, but file size considerations are not a good justification for degrading the image quality <IN AN IMAGE QUALITY TEST>.

    How do you justify adding throwaway comments about equivalence with Hauppage products in the conclusions if you havn't addressed the cards at any point in the review?

    Why have you taken the instantaneous CPU utilisation from task manager and tabulated it? You need to take an average over a reasonable period of time if it is to have any relevance.

    Seriously, there's not enough depth in any area to make the review really worthwhile - you may as well post a single page saying "Look everyone, ATI have sent us this nice new card they want us to plug!" and it would have the same amount of relevance to 99% of your audience.
    Reply
  • Cardio - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Why is there no mention of how this card preforms on DTV, that is its major difference and only really new feature? Am I missing something here? You didn't test the Hauppauge because you have looked at it before. You've looked at the ATI 550 before also. In the earlier test you campare a dual tuner card to a single tuner card rather to the other available dual tuner card. Will ATI only give you stuff to test if you don't compare it to the competition? As you said, Nvidia's card is only available directly from them and at twice the price. The Hauppauge MCE 500 is available anywhere and is cheap. Oh, you have looked at those cards before.

    I can tell you for sure that I am a lot more interested in Picture Quality and functionality than in power consumption or cpu usage.
    Not worthy of AT and its getting to be a habit.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    We transcoded it for your benefit (smaller file to download) -- in our image quality analysis, we used the unmodified output of the cards. Sorry if this was unclear.

    As for using ATI's material, you can't argue with a zone plate. Better is better and worse is worse. Same for the other tests we ran which were designed by SMPTE (http://www.smpte.org/)">http://www.smpte.org/) ... ATI was gracious enough to provide us with these tests we would have otherwise had to purchase ourselves.

    testing the Hauppage card is a reasonable request, but it doesn't change the fact that it was similar in quality and performance to the Theater 550 in previous evaluations. That is perfectly reasonable information to use in drawing conclusions.
    Reply
  • SHSPVR - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    One thing I really hate more then anything is the fact that min reviewer are so lazy in the cheating game by using the PrtScn Button and do not do ture original video RAW decode MPEG screenshot in the rigth application software like Womble MPEG-VCR and always seem to be using MCE DVR-MS proprietary video and audio format carp what matter are they just to lazy in using other PVR software or GraphEdit to get real MPEG files but as we all know that the NVIDIA DualTV is not option with GraphEdit which has no exposes advanced features properties.

    2nd problem as today no body turely using low bitrate under 4MBit/sec which is more reasonable testing to see how well it really dose encoding without artifacts.

    So you wondering why I said cheating well each encoder dose there video difference from each other and there for the decoder filter display difference in case depend on the clean up filter like Deinterlace, difference Enhanced Video Processing Technologies which get apply on top the MPEG Video.

    Now as for comparison.
    Hauppauge, ATI and NVIDIA
    Hands down Hauppauge PVR cards wins becuase of some major reason it has support for more OS then any one eles Windows, Linux, Mac (Apple) and yes even OS/2 Warp or eComStation and has more 3rdparty application support.

    As for a real encoding comparison all test they should done with the fellowing device
    VCR, Stardard Antenna TV, CableTV Analogue/Digital and Satellite with fellowing output source S-Video/Composite and Tuner

    CPU Utilization is really useless becuase all of today Video card are still mostly base on 3rdparty SW-Decoder which mean you still need fast CPU unlike a ture HW-Decoder which provides a real decoding performance unlike today video card which only do part HW-accelerated decoding not full HW-decoding.
    Let say for Example you have Intel P3 800MHz runing 2000Pro or XP with 512MB and you can chosse from GeForce"4" MX4000 or GeForce"7" 7800 becuase you want upgarde your old doggie ATI 3D RAGE PRO 4MB what do you think you see in CPU Utilization from the two card newer card.
    Reply
  • andrep74 - Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - link

    One thing I really hate more [than] anything is the fact that I have to try to read cr*p like your comments, which try to pass off the sh*t in your head for English. Reply
  • SHSPVR - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    Oh I also for add You need do Cartoon as well as reg video show Reply

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