NVIDIA GeForce FX Personal Cinema Roundup - Asus, Chaintech, eVGA, and MSIby Andrew Ku on December 23, 2003 10:48 AM EST
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NVIDIA has tried for some time to get into the multimedia arena with their Personal Cinema product line. Visiontek, once with the NVIDIA camp, was the main partner to introduce Personal Cinema based on mostly GeForce2 MX and a few GeForce3 models. NVIDIA's concept back then (read our TV Capture Card Roundup) was solid and complemented their graphic card line very well. With every new GPU cycle (sometimes 3 GPU introductions at a time) occurring about every 6 months, it didn't make sense to create twice as many cards just to bring to market Personal Cinema versions on all of them. So a different approach was taken, one that offered most of the hardware behind Personal Cinema functionality in an external box. The end product turned out to be one in which few manufacturers were interested, and this coupled with the lack of in-house software support wasn't well received by end users.
More recently, NVIDIA has been attempting to get back into this market. Microsoft has made it clear to the market of their hopes for Windows XP Media Center Edition PCs, a topic we will revisit soon. This was the driving force behind NVIDIA's announcement of a MCE TV Tuner and their more concentrated work on Personal Cinema.
Of the two, ATI has beat NVIDIA to the table with the eHomeWonder, All-in-Wonder Encode, and the 9100 IGP (code named RS300), all which allow ATI to provide OEMs with a cost effective solution for Media Center Edition PCs. The certification behind the All-in-Wonder Encode marked the first software based MPEG-2 encoder for Windows XP Media Center Edition, and allows for All-in-Wonder cards to be used in this OS. The choice by system integrators (i.e. Dell) of AIWs for their Media Center Edition PCs is good news for ATI, due to the large volume of sales that MCE PCs can generate — one PC, one AIW. This is the same for the eHomeWonder, which is nothing more than a hardware MPEG-2 encoder with a Philips FM/TV tuner.
On the consumer end, NVIDIA isn't near the market share that ATI holds in the multimedia market. However, NVIDIA is now in their fourth incarnation of Personal Cinema based on the GeForce FX line, and promises to be more favorable, particularly with greater support from manufacturers such as Asus, Chaintech, eVGA, and MSI.