HDTV Wonder - The Card

The 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.

Click to enlarge.

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.

Click to enlarge.

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.

Click to enlarge.

The Test DTV Player – DTV Time-shifted


View All Comments

  • 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.
  • ABErickson - Thursday, June 24, 2004 - link

    Can this thing capture in WMV 9?

  • 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.
  • 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 "


  • 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... )

  • 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?

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