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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  • nyfaisal - Monday, September 20, 2004 - link

    Don't buy this card! I can't view any HD Channels on a P4 3.2 Ghz and 1 GB DDR ram. I get over 90% signal quality, but hd output is choppy and I can view only 25% of the picture. SD channels, hoewver, display OKAY. This may be a waste of money, so make sure you buy it from a store that has a good return policy. Better off going with my wintv-d-- only $40 from ebay-- I get all the HD channels and can record them on hard drive. Reply
  • bblake12 - Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - link

    The MYHD MDP-120 product as disucssed in previous postings supports 2 of your three wishes 1. DVI interface (with daughtercard add-on) 2. 1080i. It does not include BGN interface. I would agree with yuo that the review was poorly written with little knowledge of what the product does or what features it should support right out of the box. Reply
  • jiulemoigt - Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - link

    LOL some people simple review stuff without actully understanding what it does, what it pretends to do, and what it simply ignores. I for one would like to see any HD decoder support one of three things one DVI interface, BGN interface (I'm going to laugh if any one even knows what that is), or any other device able to support the bandwidth of 1080i. Though I don't happen to know a third device that does and if the display is big enough you need dual DVI's or a very expensive deciated BGN driver(it's a piece of hardware, I'm not refering to software coding here)... Reply
  • CZroe - Saturday, June 26, 2004 - link

    This product is a huge disappointment. I have happily delayed my XP-MCE PVR HTPC for this product because I saw no reason for it to exist unless it 1) Trumps existing HD tuner cards and 2) Brings HDTV to Media Center Edition PCs and other PVR software. It does neither and neither the Anandtech nor HotHardware articles even touch on these aspects. In fact, I expected to at least have a little insight into the PCI bandwidth issue... I was told that the original WinTV-D downsampled all high resolution HDTV content and cited the advantages as being either "you have it clear or you don't have it at all" reception and slightly-higher than normal SDTV resolution. Their reasoning were supposedly to avoid saturating the PCI bus with high-resolution video overlays. How does this card solve that problem? I'm not talking about CPU performance while recording (That was touched on) and I'm not just talking about its own internal bandwidth to the video card for overlays (Though that should have been touched on too)! I'm talking about systems with RAID0 arrays and Gigabit network cards utilizing the 133MBps PCI bus simultaneously as a home media and live TV server (Like SnapStream PVR does for standard TV tuners currently).

    Basically, this card is entirely inadequate for the XPC owners who were waiting to make use of this yet I didn't hear any disadvantages cited for the OBVIOUSLY interested audience.

    Now, the most obvious reason for adding an HDTV tuner to an HTPC is to use it as a HTDV tuner for your home theater and avoid a costly dedicated HDTV-tuner purchase while adding the capabilities of HTPC PVR, DVD transfers and media recordings. NONE OF THESE USAGE SCENARIOS WERE ADDRESSED! I'd imagine that only a small fraction of total users aren't expecting to use this with their wide-screen LCD monitors or HDTV-monitors at home. The fact that this card doesn't have a single redeeming feature for these people is intolerable and ATI should be ashamed of releasing such an obsolescence-bound piece of hardware. If ATI truly wants to be in Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition PCs, you think they'd at leasts make sure to include hardware assisted MPEG2 encoding. Yes, I am aware that HDTV IS MPEG2 already but all stand-alone HDTV tuners will output HDTV the resolution and display mode optimal for your TV (Such as it's native 720p or 1080i mode to avoid internal scaling). This would take an ungodly amount of CPU power to handle HDTV-resolution video in real time.

    This card should have been reviewed from one or two perspectives:
    1) As an HDTV tuner for your Home Theater competing with other dedicated HDTV tuners including perceived drawbacks, advantages and comparisons.
    2) As a device that will finally answer the question about upcoming HDTV support in Media Center Edition or other PC PVR options. Yes or no? Why does anyone even give a crap about this card at face value with ATI's software?

    Can I record my own WMV9 HD-DVD's instead of hunting for bonuses and extras in retail movies (Yes, but it will require professional transcoding software)? Can I connect and record XBOX in HDTV resolutions (No, there are no component)? remaster new natively Progressive Scan DVDs based on a capture from a high-end DVD player that handles improperly flagged content well (No, there are no DVI inputs and there is no such thing as a consumer HDTV RF Modulator)? Why do we not even have a picture of the break-out box? Sure, we have all inferred the answers to these but the article doesn't even acknowledge the possibilities or disappointments.
    Reply
  • ABErickson - Thursday, June 24, 2004 - link

    Can this thing capture in WMV 9?

    Reply
  • glennpratt - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    This article borders on fanboism. Please don't sit at ATi's feat waiting for them to dribble poorly supported cards with terrible OEM interfaces and be happy.

    ATi's has been in the game a long time and has left me with no reason to trust them, they are stingy with drivers and stability is often poor. I have 3 AIW's and a TV Wonder, I finally gave up and bought an Avermedia M150 and use real PVR software and I will never look back. When a real HD card that actually add's some needed features comes along, then I will go there.
    Reply
  • bblake12 - Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - link

    The WinTV Cards MDP 100/120 and the Hauppage cards are designed more to display off-air HDTV signals on your PC and also your HDTV. They also allow PVR functionality. They do not have component inputs only S-Video/Composite . You can get a DVI daughterboard with the MDP-120 that has DVI out for DVI monitors and you can also split out the HD-15 to RCA outputs for component output.

    Here is the answer to the question above regarding inputting Cable\Satellite HDTV signals

    "All HDTV card "stores" high-def signals in their raw data form and decodes the signal during playback. Since Cable and Satellite services do not use 8VSB modulation, their signals require dedicated tuners, and once decoded, cannot be routed to the input of the HDTV PC cards "

    Thanks


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

    does this card have component in? It would seem like including this would have been a no-brainer, that way users with directv hdtv,dishtv,cable ect, could just input their set-top recievers component input into the card...I wouldn't buy an hdtv card that didn't have this feature. The review really should have addressed this issue as well as component out. I mean the reviewer expects ATI to include decoders for sat broadcast or cable decoders, which is a virtual impossibility, but fails to even mention that component input would somewhat suffice. I think it was a decent review, but it left out a number of important issues. Reply
  • PaulDriver - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    There are several HD TV cards around, but the MyHD MDP-100/120 (ustilising the same basic hardware as the Hauppauge card) offers the best functionality of any card in the current market.

    Judging by the review here, the ATI product cannot compete with the MyHD MDP-100/120 ( http://www.digitalconnection.com/Products/Video/md... )

    I have a mini review of the WinTV-HD at tv-cards.com ( http://www.tv-cards.com/messageboard/viewtopic.php... )


    Paul.
    Reply
  • cinfulsounds - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    I have digital cable and I would like to know if this card will pick up digital cable channels!? I know in the article it says that this card can not pick up HDTV Channels on digital cable, but does this include the other non HDTV, digital cable channels?
    Reply

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