The Card



ATI's All-In-Wonder line has been around for a while, and it has consistently provided a quality multimedia solution since its introduction. The X1800 XL version is no different, thus confirming our expectations.



As you can see by the picture, the All-In-Wonder version looks almost identical to its standard X1800 XL counterpart. A somewhat strange thing about the card visually is the purple color of the board, which is only odd because every other ATI board is bright red. Whatever ATI's reason for doing this is, the color is a subtle cue that this card is a bit different.

The color and the heatsink sticker aren't the only differences however. The X1800 XL A-I-W features an FM and Cable TV connection, as well as a digital input/output connection above the dual link DVI-I output. Different Dongles attache to this port in order to enable the desired functionaity such as comonent or composite output or to add a second monitor. The power connection is the same as a standard X1800.



One of the better features of the newest A-I-W is the new improved Remote Wonder. The feel and size of the Remote Wonder Plus is improved over previous versions, and having an RF remote with a programmable buttons and a thumb pad for controlling the mouse is really convenient if using the computer for watching TV is a prime function of your setup. Doing things like flipping channels while waiting for an email or checking who's on your favorite instant messenger service is a breeze. The range of the Remote Wonder is effectively between 25 and 30 feet, which is more than enough for any good sized room. Of course, unless your computer is hooked up to an Apple 30" Cinema display, watching TV at more than 10 to 15 feet is not that comfortable.

The card also comes with a sizable software bundle, and a lot of connectors for hooking up your equipment. Of note here is the fact that ATI has switched from Pinnacle Systems to Adobe software. This small change reflects quite an increase in value, as Adobe is all but the industry standard in photo and video editing. Even though the versions of Photoshop and Premier included are the cut down Elements versions, these software packages do just about everything any home user would want.

The other major difference between the new X1800XL and previous generation A-I-W cards is the FM/CATV tuner. ATI has employed the Microtune 2121 digital tuner on this board. In the past, larger "tin can" style analog tuners have been used which take up quite a lot of board space. This is the same solution used on the X800XT A-I-W cards. Again the Microtune 2121 is paired with the Theatre 200 chip which takes the output from the Microtune 2121 and handles the filtering and conversion of video to a format suitable for display on the PC.

Like we mentioned in the introduction, the MSRP of the X1800XL A-I-W is $429. This would be only about a $30 - $60 premium over most other X1800XL cards, and if we actually see cards come in anywhere around $429 this would make the added functionality and software bundle a terrific value over the stock X1800XL parts. Ideally we would see current X1800XL parts fall to or below 7800 GT prices (low-mid $300s), and even then the X1800XL A-I-W would be a good solution for those who want to watch TV on their PC at $429.

We've heard some murmurs from the community about the delay between the X1800XL and the A-I-W version. While we don't think a month and a half is a huge expanse of time, it is interesting to note that ATI has delayed the launch of the X1800XL A-I-W multiple times over the past month. The reasoning behind these delays was to match the product launch with retail availability. Unfortunately we have not seen any cards anywhere at this time. While we appreciate the attempt by ATI, the failure to deliver on its promise once again is disturbing. How has NVIDIA been able to get availability at launch for over a year on both desktop and mobile platforms while ATI can't get it right for one single product?

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  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    Until ATI adds HARDWARE ENCODING (from all I know, the Theater 200 does not) of at least MPEG/MPEG-2 (better MPEG-4), the extra money doesn't justify buying an All-In-Wonder. I'd rather spend my money on a Hauppauge WinTV PVR card, or something else that does that job so I can encode video and free my CPU for other things I might be doing. Reply
  • Tewt - Saturday, November 26, 2005 - link

    No Theater 550 chip and outdated Gemstar Guide will keep me from buying another AIW card. BeyondTV is ok but it is too buggy/incompatible(esp with ATI AIW cards) and accesses the internet waaaayy too much. Though I liked the automatic download, I had switched to the Gemstar Guide because it didn't access the internet so much and take a lot of CPU usage while just operating in the background. But Gemstar feels old in that I cannot set an automatic download(for instance, once a day check for updates at 9pm) and it cannot get all the channels/programs listed correctly. Not to mention, I've never had a satisfying experience with ATI's multimedia center. Tivo has been out so long, why can't ATI, Hauppage or Snapstream get it right when it comes to ease of use/installation/update?(Yes I know its PC versus consumer electronics but I hope you get my point).

    For now the best I can hope for is my Hauppage/BeyondTV combo.


    Reply
  • ElJefe - Thursday, December 01, 2005 - link

    I know this is now an old thread, but I have to add some things:

    550 chip has been rated as being LESS clear in picture quality than the 200. yes it has been by all in wonder reviewing sites as well as me personally. For regular tv cleaning up the picture type of function, 200 actually does it better. 550 has some synthetic cleaning procedures for fuzz and such, but sometimes it degrades the picture.

    200 actually is where it is at.

    But the non hdtv is mad gay.
    Reply
  • Leper Messiah - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    Maybe the picture quality is better, but ATi has really stagnated in this market. nVidia needs to get serious in this market and force some competition! Reply
  • NullSubroutine - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    again, i think there are alot of people like me who have 19" LCD's who run 1280x1024. seeing who the fastest in 1600x1200 really isnt helpful. i request to have 12x10 with 4x 8x restored in all future benchmarks. Reply
  • huges84 - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    I second that. The high resolutions are nice for some people, but 1280x1024 with some AF and AA should be a standard test. This helps a lot bigger section of your audience make a decision than 1200X1600 does. Reply
  • g33k - Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - link

    Looking at the 16x12 4aa benchmark it would seems like ATi would be the way to go for 12x10 with 4aa/8aa. Their cards suffer less of a performance hit with AA enabled. Reply
  • AaronAxvig - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    I have the X600 AIW, and I must say that ATI has dropped the ball on its software. 3 times I have tried getting the TV software to run decently, but I never can. Just last night I tried, on a clean install of XP Pro, with the newest drivers from ATI's website. I thought all was going well, and recording some TV. Then BANG, it freezes. 1/2 hour of recording is gone, and the TV program is stuck there. This is the same thing that has always happened to me. You can't use task manager to end the program; the only way is with a hard reboot. Can't even shut down. So, until ATI does some hardcore fixing (or I find out how to fix it), this card will remain a novelty to me. Reply
  • quasarsky - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    i'm getting really sick of ati not adding the theatre 550 chip. c'mon ati. get it together! :( Reply
  • quasarsky - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    oh and at's comment about the card will always be more expensive than a 1800xl regular card? ha

    my x800xt aiw card was cheaper than alot of x800xt cards, and it was $275 shipped brand new from buy.com :-D
    Reply

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