ATI's HDTV Wonder - Bringing DTV to your PCby Andrew Ku on June 22, 2004 8:00 AM EST
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HDTV Wonder - The CardThe card that we received was technically a non-qualified sample, but since we are testing function capability and features rather than performance, this really isn't an issue. Like the past TV Wonder products, there is no MPEG2 decoder on this card, which is one of the reasons why it can't be used with software like SageTV 2.0.
ATI chose to use the Philips TUV1236D HDTV compliant tuner on their HDTV Wonder. Philips uses an ATI NXT2004 demodulator on all TUV1236D tuners, which serves to convert the DTV's 8VSB modulation transmissions to digital MPEG2 data. The NXT2004, as shown in the picture below, is actually on the back side of the tuner, and cannot be accessed without probably damaging the tuner. Note that the HDTV Wonder supports all ATSC supported DTV resolutions, not just the HDTV ones.
If you don't remember, sometime in the last half of 2002, ATI acquired the NextWave company as part of their move to get more into the multimedia arena, as NextWave was already producing demodulators.
Since analog TV signals will still be around for some time, ATI has wisely decided to continue support for this standard. The HDTV wonder comes with one RF connector for DTV (the one on the right in the picture) and one for a cable/antenna hookup (left RF connector). Like the TV Wonder Pro, the HDTV Wonder supports audio/video in (composite and s-video) via their "love it or hate it" purple breakout box (included).
ATI already knows that you must be asking about a DTV All-in-Wonder possibility (as we were), and they have prepared a response in their HDTV Wonder's FAQ:
...One of the most obvious reasons involves size: the HDTV tuner solution is significantly larger than the current tuner on an All-in-Wonder board. Attempting to make such a large tuner fit on an All-in-Wonder board would result in sacrificing some of the All-in-Wonder's great feature set and performance. Another reason for separating the HDTV tuner from the graphics processor is to maintain signal integrity of the digital signal. Connecting the tuner to the demodulator is a sensitive matter that is easily impacted by electrical noise...Does this mean that with the full analog to DTV switch, All-in-Wonders will become extinct? Not likely; AIWs are still a good bread-and-butter source for ATI's multimedia team. With ATI's progression in their developments within the graphics and multimedia field, it is likely that both of these hurdles will be overcome in the future, and the full switch will be far from complete, which means that ATI still has quite a bit of time to figure things out.