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 GideonTech Reviews
-- ATI TV Wonder VE
-- Price: $45 USD
-- 10.15.2000
-- By: GideonX

   The ATI TV Wonder VE, while is labeled as a value edition, is still a good contender in the TV Tuner line they carry.  This card lets you watch television, capture video and still images, schedule and record tv programs, zoom in on the action and many other features.  The included software lets you play Video and Audio CDs, while also letting you watch television and edit video files.  What is the picture quality? Is it time to retire that old television set and use this instead? Let's find out...

ATI's Fancy Box

   The ATI Tv Wonder VE is the little brother to the TV Wonder.  The major differences between the two is as follows:

Features
TV WONDER VE
ATI-TV WONDER
Stereo TV-tuner
-
x
Win 98 Compatible
x
x
Video Capture
x
x
Real Time Video Compression
VCR-1
MPEG-1, VCR-1
Digital VCR
x
x
Video Magazine
x
x
Closed Captioning
x
x
Zoom In
x
x
Sched. Viewing
x
x
Video Desktop
x
x
Channel Preview
x
x
S-video Input
-
x

  Table ripped right off ATI's Website

    Included in the box is the TV Tuner card itself, very small and compact and actually a breeze to install into my Asus p3v4x motherboard.  There is also a pass through cable to wire your sound card to the tuner.  Also included is an audio adapter to get some composite audio action happening.

   So after installing the card, we start off by using the ATI Multimedia Center.  Please note, if you plan to download the drivers for the card and this multimedia center, you better keep that cd in a safe place because they don't let you download it.  Somehow they have an agreement of some sort that prevents them from posting it up for download.  With that out of the way, lets take a look at the software.

ATI Multimedia Center

   The included software lets you have the ability to watch video cds, edit videos, watch television and listen to audio cds.  A nice package to get the most out of your tuner and your system.  Let's check out the TV quality of this thing.

Food Networks Iron Chef

   The above was captured using the included still image capturing feature of the tv tuner (As you can see, I like the Food Network).  The quality is not that bad, slight color discoloration is seen, most likely due to my coaxial cable splitting.  The other feature of the tuner is the ability to capture video.  It does this in the .avi format, you can compress it later with software since .avi's tend to be large.

Click the above picture to download a 3mb video capture

   There is a jack in the back for composite video, so if you want to hook up your console video game system through your tuner it is possible.  Again, the video quality may be slightly worse.

Click the above picture to download
a 4mb capture of Virtua Tennis

   Overall, the tv tuner is very nice alternative to the conventional tv set.  The tuner is probably best used in a dorm or if you have an extremely small apartment where you can't fit a regular tv.  I wouldn't throw my tv out just yet, even if the still images and video capturing features are extremely nice.

Edit: James Yeh, one of our readers, has sent me an email to remind on the video capturing CODEC used by ATI, namely VCR1.  The previously uploaded .avi clips were not viewable unless you had these CODECs installed which are specific to ATI Technologies.  I have since recompressed them to more standardized formats. This can be accomplished using the Video Editor software provided with the tuner if you plan to do some capturing.  Standard codecs from Intel and Microsoft can be used along with some other not so standard ones.

Pros

  • Very easy to install

  • Priced very reasonably

  • Very good still and video capturing

Cons

  • Lack of updated drivers online

  • No option for a remote control

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