ATi All-in-Wonder 9800 Pro


posted 7/28/2003 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
Powering the graphics portion is the R350 chip. Built on the .15 micron process, the R350 clocked at 380MHz. 128MB of DDR memory run at 340MHz. Dual 400MHz DACs and a 165MHz TMDS transmitter allow for multiple monitor support. The chip supports DirectX 9 features and then some. Among the other features are Smoothvision 2.1, Smartshader 2.1, Truform 2.0, Videoshader, and up to 6X full-scene anti-aliasing. Having been out for a little bit now, the Radeon 9800 cards are one of the most powerful 3D accelerators on the market and it powers the latest All-in-Wonder card from ATi. While the regular Radeon 9800 Pro cards have a molex power connectors, the All-in-Wonder 9800 Pro has the old floppy power connector featured in the previous Radeon 9700 Pro cards.

The multimedia portion is, again, powered by the Theater 200 chip. The Theater 200 chip offers video decoding and stereo audio processing. A Philips TV tuner enables TV viewing on your desktop. Up to 125 channels are capable with this tuner. The TV tuner offers a good picture quality with TV and I’ve always been happy with it.

Multimedia Center 8.5 comes with the package and offers some nice new features. The main one I am going to talk about though is Eazylook. Eazylook is a nice display for TVs with large icons and on screen display of information. Working in conjunction with the Remote Wonder, Eazylook makes controlling and viewing TV a lot simpler. For lower resolutions of TVs, Eazylook offers easy to read text and TV settings. One feature I like is the ability to see what’s playing on other channels currently and in the future by using the mouse control pad on the remote. And if you find something you want to record, you can also use the remote to set it up with one touch of the button.

The multimedia center’s Eazylook library now allows you to view a variety of multimedia files on your computer just by using the remote. Files can also be filtered by type. The large letters enable you to easily read the files and select the one you want to view. I really enjoyed the new Eazylook and can’t wait to see more improvements in the software.

To clean up video, Videosoap is employed. You know when you have a weak or dirty cable signal, the video image can be fuzzy or snowy. Various filters are available to help clean up the video and you can use a combination of filters to achieve a good picture. I’ve played around with the feature in previous cards and it certainly can improve picture quality. You’ll have to play around with the settings to produce a picture you prefer but it’s definitely worth using if you can’t get a good picture.

Gemstar Guide+ is the programming guide that gives you show information and times. The program hasn’t changed too much since I first used it with the All-in-Wonder 8500 review but Eazylook takes the information from Guide+ and displays it for you to see on screen when flipping through channels. It offers one touch recording and watching. The program downloads a week’s worth of programming at a time and prompts you to do so when the listings have expired. It still doesn’t allow you to adjust the font size so that it’s easier to read on a TV screen but Eazylook takes care of that now. Still, I hope that new versions of Guide+ allow for some display changes for those that use the card on a TV and doesn’t use want to use Eazylook.

multView is the ability to use a TV Wonder PCI card in conjunction with the All-in-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro and get picture in picture capabilities or the ability to watch one program while recording another at the same time. You can read about how this is implemented in my TV Wonder Remote Edition review. I tried the card with the All-in-Wonder 9800 Pro and the results were the same.

If you are interested in dual monitor operation, then you’re stuck using a TV as a second monitor. About the only thing missing from this card is that ability, which is available on regular Radeon cards. Dual monitors would be a great addition to this line and I hope ATi decides to include it soon in their future cards somehow.
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