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    ATI All-in-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro Review
    By Vince Freeman :  September 8, 2003

    All-in-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro Features

    The AiW Radeon 9800 Pro follows the design of other All-in-Wonder cards and features the Rage Theatre 200 chip as the centerpiece of its multimedia crown. The Rage Theatre 200 is a single-chip design, that incorporates analog video decoding and stereo audio processing, and gives the AiW Radeon 9800 Pro its extra A/V functionality. The chip features dual 12-bit ADC's (analog to digital converter), and converts analog video signals to digital video, and also decodes internal and external stereo audio to digital. The Radeon Theatre 200 also includes adaptive 2D 3-line comb filters, and an integrated stereo decoder that supports all of the major television broadcast standards.

    The Stereo TV Tuner

    The TV tuner on the All-in-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro is the same analog Philips model that ATI has used on previous AiW models, after their short-lived tryst with digital tuners. In terms of basic features, it provides stereo broadcast access to up to 125 channels, along with providing more advanced features such as TV-on-Demand (record a live program to HD at intervals and resume watching), Guide Plus+ (interactive TV programming guide), and MulTView, which support multiple TV tuners and mimics a picture-in-picture TV design.

    The Cable TV feature is enabled through the card's coax backplate connector, and programs can be viewed in standard full-screen and windowed modes. Where it really gets interesting is with innovative features such as ATI's ThruView, which allows TV (or DVD/video) viewing through a translucent window. This allows you to keep an eye on the game or your favorite show, all while working in the foreground. These little extras are one reason the AiW cards are such a treat to own, and ATI has shown us a real willingness to innovate with the home/office worker in mind. The TV-on-Demand functionality is also quite useful, as it can record content on demand and then resume playback when you've finally located that bag of Doritos. Just remember that TV-on-Demand performance is more a function of system speed, as on lower-end PCs, we've experienced some slowdowns and heavy disk access.

    ATI Remote Wonder

    The ATI Remote Wonder is standard equipment on most All-in-Wonder products, even down to the entry-level AiW Radeon 9000 Pro. This is a smart move by ATI, as the Remote Wonder really gives Cable TV viewing a TV-like interface and allows users to sit back in their office chair and take a break. Channel surfing, volume control and other basic TV functions are only the tip of the iceberg, and the Remote Wonder can also support video/DVD playback and recording, along with sporting two buttons that duplicate the right/left buttons on your mouse. The controller can also be configured to handle basic Windows functions, such as launching applications, shutting down the OS, and there are even plug-ins available that extend this functionality even further.

    Installation

    The All-in-Wonder cards may seem like an alternative to a 3D video/TV-tuner card combo, but the differences become apparent in installation. For starters, you only need one AGP slot, and the integrated driver install is a real treat for inexperienced users. It's really a matter of physically installing the card, loading the drivers and then attaching the required cables. The driver updates are also kept current by ATI, and there are no potential incompatibility issues as with dual-card setups. We were up in running in a matter of minutes and had Cable TV and A/V input functions working right off the bat.

    TV Tuner & A/V Performance

    The TV Tuner is the money part of the All-in-Wonder line, and with their latest edition, ATI has not deviated from the successful format of previous models. The AiW Radeon 9800 Pro handles basic TV viewing with ease, the ThruView feature is extremely useful while working, yet still wanting to catch a few programs, and the recording functionality is very user-friendly. Overall performance is top-notch for the card-specific functions, and channel surfing is responsive, the special Guide+ feature is integrated well, and image quality is quite good. The recording and TV-on-Demand aspects are dependant on overall system speed, but this only becomes a potential issue with lower-end PCs.

    The Remote Wonder adds a real depth to the AiW experience, especially when using your PC as a secondary television. TV-out functionality has also been enhanced with the EAZYLOOK Remote Wonder user interface, which is present in Multimedia Center 8.5 and higher, and provides an on-screen function display for TV output, faster remote control response, and extended info for playback and file options.

    The A/V input and recording features performed to our expectations, and the ATI Capture driver worked as advertised and was easily recognized by the A/V software suite. The presence of Pinnacle Studio 8 also helped, and we imported videos, edited, added effects, and then played these back without any problems at all. The A/V functionality delivered on the ATI promise of an integrated, user-friendly multimedia card, and the bundled software provides back-end support for editing and authoring tasks.


    Page 1 Introduction
    Page 2 The All-in-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro Card
  • Page 3 All-in-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro Features
    Page 4 Performance and Test System
    Page 5 Quake 3, Serious Sam 2, RtCW & Jedi II Performance
    Page 6 UT 2003 , Comanche 4 and 3DMark Performance
    Page 7 Benchmark Analysis, Value and Conclusion

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