ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review :: TV and AVIVO

01-01-2006 · Category: Hardware - Video Cards

By Benjamin Sun

ATI calls their suite of video solutions on the X1K series AVIVO which stands for Advanced Video In Video Out. Just the other day, ATI decided to offer improved AVIVO functionality with their drivers (Cat 5.13) and it applies to the entire X1K series. AVIVO includes advanced video de-interlacing, 10-bit per color component throughout the pipeline, bobbing, and weaving, 12-bit ADCs and more.

One of the key features of 2006 will be H.264 support. H.264 is the new compression algorithm for High Definition video, replacing the MPEG-2 standard. A MPEG-2 video running at 1920x1080 resolution runs at 12-20Mbps while H.264 can deliver similar content at 7-8 Mbps. However H.264 is very computationally intensive. Most CPUs are taxed when encoding H.264 content to 100%. ATI decided with the X1K series to accelerate H.264 encoding on the video card. With the current 5.13 Catalyst drivers, ATI recommends using 480p setting on a x1300, 720p on the x1600 and 1080i only on the x1800 series.

Traditionally, what made an A-I-W an A-I-W was the addition of a television tuner to the standard video card. The A-I-W 2006 PCI Express Edition has the same Microtune 2121 TV tuner can that came with the A-I-W x1800XL. The tuner can receive up to 125 channels and is cable ready. In my case, I used a 46W Amplified Antenna from RCA to find Channels 2,4,5,7,9,11,13,18,22, 28, 30, 34, 40,46,52,56, 58. These are the channels available in the Los Angeles area for non-cable users.

TV Screenshots)


ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review

Guide+ Plus and TV Player screenshots


ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review


ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review

Two things I like about ATI's television solutions is the inclusion of Gemstar Guide+ Plus and the Digital Video Recorder functions of the card. Gemstar Guide+ Plus is an Extended Programming Guide that operates like an interactive TV Guide. Once a week you connect online to download the upcoming week's shows and Guide+ Plus gives the date, the time, the name of the show, the channel and usually a brief description of the show. There's also a search engine integrated into the program by keyword, by type of show.

Scheduler


ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review

ATI uses a Scheduler application to record shows. Running the Scheduler is easy and intuitive, simply launch it, set the time, channel, duration of recording and click ok. You can also set up recording a show with the Guide+ Plus EPG. ATI MMC software allows you to pause TV much like TiVO. I think it's pretty cool that ATI provides this free of charge. A 120GB HDD recording TV at standard resolution holds days worth of programming.


ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review FM Radio

FM Radio

ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review FM Radio Player

FM Radio Player


The packaging ATI included with their A-I-W 2006 PCI Express Edition did not include an FM Radio antenna, though the connector is on the card for the FM. ATI normally includes the antenna with their cards, so it might have been a oversight. I was able to find all of the local FM stations with the Autoscan and the radio works well. Not much to talk about, as a radio just works.

CCC screenshots


ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review


ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review

ATI drivers have been wonderful since the hiring of Catalyst Maker AKA Terry Makedon a few years ago. Before that, the state of ATI drivers could be best described as horrible in some places. In 2003, ATI introduced us to the Catalyst drivers. 2004 saw the introduction of something new called the Catalyst Control Center. CCC is a control panel applet that requires Microsoft's .Net framework.

The CCC allows easy change of Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering settings. The average user will want to use the standard view. This menu allows you to set the game settings in typical fashion, i.e. with no AA no AF, to 2x AA 8x AF, to 4x AA 8x AF. The advanced menu allows you to change each setting individually. Also present in the advanced version is the ability to turn Adaptive Antialiasing on. AAA is the equivalent of NVIDIA's Transparency Antialiasing. ATI uses something called Cat A.I or Catalyst Artificial Intelligence to set game settings for anisotropic filtering. Personally, I always disable Cat A.I and NVIDIA's Quality mode when running benchmarks.

MMC


ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review


ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review
ATI All-In-Wonder 2006 PCI Express Edition Review

ATI offers free software called Multimedia Center with all of their video cards. The version included with the A-I-W 2006 is 9.12; while ATI's latest MMC available is 9.08 on their website. MMC includes a File Player, a DVD Player, a CD player, a Video CD player, and the EazyLook Library to view old files.