The Card



The card looks like a slightly longer version of the standard X1300 Pro, with the signiature A-I-W purple colored board. While the board itself is a bit longer, the HSF is the same shape and size as it is on the X1300, but it's gold colored now and moved to closer to the end of the card. There's also a small gold colored casing for the tuner in the top corner.

Included with the card is the same kind of software and hardware bundle expected with any A-I-W card. The hardware consists of lots of connection equipment for hooking up your cable/tv to the card, but there is something different with the A-I-W 2006. The card does not come with the previously included remote wonder, however ATI will send it to you free of charge (even without having to pay shipping costs) if you send off for it after you've bought your card. This is probably just a way for ATI to save on some costs.

The software bundle is pretty much the same here as it was for the X1800 XL A-I-W. Apart from the standard drivers, you get Adobe Premiere Elements and a lot of familiar utilities for playing/recording video which we'll look at in the next section. Note, Adobe Photoshop Elements is not included as it was with the X1800 version, making the software bundle a bit smaller for the A-I-W 2006.

Why ATI is still using the Theater 200

Many have raised the question as to why ATI would stick with the Theater 200 rather than upgrade to the newer, more feature rich Theater 550. Both the A-I-W 2006 PCIe and the A-I-W X1800 XL make use of ATI's older Theater 200, which doesn't have any hardware support for encoding/decoding and uses older filter technology. The real answer to the question of why ATI isn't jumping to drop the Theater 200 is that they really don't need to.

With the X1000 series, AVIVO enables some advanced video playback features. It is possible for ATI to leverage the GPU and its AVIVO features to enhance the quality of video from TV. This means that ATI really shouldn't look at the advanced filtering features of the Theater 550 as an advantage over the Theater 200 for All-In-Wonder products.

This still leaves the lack of hardware encoding support on the Theater 200 chip. Again, this is not a big issue. How can we say this? Today, ATI's driver includes some highly optimized methods to transcode video. The AVIVO Video Coverter works with ATI X1K graphics cards (although it is not GPU accelerated) to bring users the ability to convert video recorded using the A-I-W 2006 PCIe to virtually any other video format (including WMV9, PSP, and iPod video). The performance of this software is quite good, and while it isn't quite as efficient as a hardware solution, the versatility and potential of this software makes up for any shortcomings.

At the same time, ATI is working on building GPU acceleration into their AVIVO Video Converter. While GPU assistance is off in the distance, ATI's inclusion of a video converter at all gives them a simple vehicle for enabling hardware accelerated encoding/transcoding when their code to do so finally matures. When GPU acceleration hits, encoding and transcoding on X1K A-I-W products will be leaps and bounds better than the features supported on the Theater 550.

Top that off with the fact that ATI has just introduced H.264 decode acceleration and has already included WMV decode acceleration, watching compressed video will have a decreased impact on the CPU as well. All in all, the inclusion of the Theater 200 over the Theater 550 isn't something to worry about. If ATI had all their ducks in a row with hardware assisted encoding right now, there could be absolutely no argument that the Theater 550 would have been a better choice. As it stands, the lack of hardware MPEG-2 encode support on the A-I-W parts is it's only shortcoming, but we hope ATI will fix this as soon as possible by introducing GPU assisted encoding in their driver suite.

Now lets take a look at some of the features of this card.

Index Features
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  • rob46 - Saturday, December 24, 2005 - link

    Since the AIW 2006 PCIe is based off the architecture of the x1300, can any other x1300 card be used to set up a Crossfire system? There was an article a little while ago that stated that the x1300 series wouldn't need a Crossfire master-card so any x1300 card should, in theory, be able to complete the Crossfire system right? Reply
  • macraig - Saturday, December 24, 2005 - link

    It's really bad review journalism that so many reviews are done in a vacuum. None of a product's features or characteristics have meaning as an absolute... they're only meaningful *relative* to other similar competing products. That makes perfect sense, since even human intelligence isn't and can't (yet?) be measured as an absolute. Neither has meaning except relative to a peer.

    I'd like to see AnandTech and all other sites offering things called reviews to save their words and efforts until they can do the job right, with a full comparative head-to-head spread. "Reviews" in a vacuum like this raise an obvious question of motivation: is this an actual objective review, or merely a verbose conspiratorial marketing ad?

    Mark
    Reply
  • Galloway1520 - Friday, December 23, 2005 - link

    What I'm most curious about is if this card can OC up at least to stock X1300(445MHz up to 600MHz) engine clock. If so, then it should be able to do Crossfire, as the X1300 & X1600 do not require a master/dongle combo.
    It not, my understanding is that Crossfire automatically 'underclocks' the faster card, and then this combo doesn't look as promising
    Reply
  • andlcs - Friday, December 23, 2005 - link

    The review didn't mention the memory of this card.

    Newegg says it's DDR.
    ATI Web Site says it's GDDR3.
    I think it's F-BGA/GDDR2.
    Reply
  • Questar - Thursday, December 22, 2005 - link

    "The fact that certain parts (ie. X1600) took so long after launch to actually become available made us go from slightly annoyed to eventually worried that something horrible had happened at ATI to cause such delays."

    It's been known for months why the x1000 series was delayed. As always, Google is your friend.

    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, December 22, 2005 - link

    There are lots of reason for the general "delay" in x1000 series parts, and these have been well documented. Initially the R520 was supposed to launch this past summer and the rest of the lineup would follow in october/november. There was a circuit bug that ended up forcing ATI to push the R520 launch back to the RV515 timeframe. RV515 (x1300) was generally on time, and the RV530 (X1600) was announced at the same time as the rest of the X1000 series (early october). RV530 was scheduled to hit the streets on 11/30. All this is well and good, but it's not what Josh was talking about.

    The X1600 wasn't available until recently. The X1800 XT was available about 3-5 days after it was scheduled to be (11/5), but it took longer for the X1600 to show up. This is the delay we are talking about -- the delay from when ATI says something will be on shelves until the day it actually is.

    We are happy to see some real availability of the All-In-Wonder 2006 today at major online retailers. It was also nice to see a few sites selling the X1800 CrossFire Edition a couple days ago.

    This week is certainly a welcome change from what we are used to seeing from ATI.
    Reply
  • Araemo - Thursday, December 22, 2005 - link

    If this thing is $200 or lower at launch(and $150 or so as time goes on?), it'd be a good option for people with an "SLI" mobo, but no interest in a SLI setup. Put your gaming card in slot 1, put this card in slot 2, use this for VIVO, and the gaming card as your actual video card. Reply
  • Donegrim - Thursday, December 22, 2005 - link

    or buy a dedicated TV card for vastly less money, and get a pci one so you wouldnt have to havee a dual PCI-E motherboard. These AIW cards seem pointless when you can get a decent TV card for about £30 ($55 ish) Reply
  • BigLan - Thursday, December 22, 2005 - link

    For people in that situation, a pcie theater550 card would be a much better option. Hardware encoding makes a huge difference (despite what was said in the article) and the 550 is much cheaper than this card.

    Actually, getting a regular x1300 + theater 550 card works out about the same price as the x1300 aiw, and would be a much better option imo (faster gfx card + better TV picture.) Plus it would give you something to put in those pcie x1 slots :)
    Reply
  • ksherman - Thursday, December 22, 2005 - link

    ah but that 1x slot is inbetween my two Vieo slots... and i dont think any card will fit in there..... (DFI Ultra-D) some times, i get really angry @ DFI for their board design... Reply

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