I've been reviewing a few of ATI's All-in-Wonder
cards and they're a great buy for those who want great gaming performance and an abundant of multimedia features. Well what if you already have a good 3D card and just want TV on your computer? How about controlling the system with a remote? Well, ATi has bundled their TV Wonder VE
card with a Remote Wonder
together for those who want an inexpensive solution.
The TV Wonder VE Remote Control Edition
offers a PCI TV card and the Remote Wonder
, which is a remote that operates on radio frequencies. On the back of the card are a coaxial input, RCA input, and a 1/8" audio output plug. One factor that you might want consider about the TV Wonder VE
is that it doesn't handle stereo. Mono's about the best you can get out of this card. I personally would rather have all TV cards have a minimum support of stereo audio. So don't be surprised if you use this card on your computer and only receive mono sound from stations that are normally stereo in your area.
The Remote Control is the same as what we have reviewed in our previous All-in-Wonder reviews
and Charles Husemann's Remote Wonder review
. The RF remote doesn't need to be lined up like most infrared remotes for it to work. For a more detailed look into the remote, you can check out the review here
If you already own an All-in-Wonder Radeon
card, you can use the TV card to give you picture in picture. You can't record two shows at once however but hopefully ATi will update their media center to allow that to happen. I'm guessing you'd need some good processing power to allow for two simultaneous encoding and recording but I could be wrong. Dubbed mulTView, you can control each feed independently and it's for sports fans like me to keep tabs on two different games and want to quickly switch between the two. We'll get into how well mulTView works a little bit later.
Installation was easy as you just needed to install the card into a free PCI slot, install the drivers, and connect the cords. Once that is setup you should have a working TV on your computer with a few settings adjustments. The card is pretty small and won’t take up much room in your case.
As a regular TV tuner card, the TV Wonder VE
gives you all the basic options needed for TV on your computer. Multimedia Center 7.9 is available on ATi’s website when you click on search for driver for the TV Wonder VE Remote Edition
. It doesn’t have some of the cool features of the latest Multimedia Center but it’ll give you all the necessary tools to watch and record.
Since I had another ATi All-in-Wonder
card, I decided to test out the multView feature by pairing it up with the All-in-Winder 8500
. Picture quality is in line with the All-in-Wonder
cards that I’m used to. That’s to say that it’s really good. Of course it’s dependant also on the signal quality of your cable. Comparing the All-in-Wonder
cards and the TV Wonder VE
I couldn’t tell any difference and they both give a good picture quality. When you activate multView, you can record one show and watch another at the same time. I was able to easily switch between the two and watching on the multView window didn’t disturb the recording. Functions in the multView window are pretty limited with only channel changing, volume changing, and swapping channels with the primary video device. When you focus on one of the TV windows, the audio will change to that specific program. You’ll need two inputs on your audio card to handle the two audio input streams. With the Hercules Game Theater XP
card, I was able to easily hook up the two cards to different audio inputs. For some reason, my Remote Wonder
software wouldn’t allow me to configure some of the buttons to control multView commands. When I adjusted the command and tried it in full TV mode, the upper right corner produced an Eazylook icon of a button with a minus sign in it. When I switched one of the program buttons back to its original command, it worked fine. I did a pretty clean install of the system and the Remote Wonder
function programming for multView didn’t work. There were also a few other commands on the list that didn’t take either so I don’t know what the problem was. Other than the Remote Wonder
issue, I didn’t have any problems enabling multView and watching different channels along with switching back and forth.
Now if you're looking for a no frills TV card with a remote, then the TV Wonder VE Remote Control Edition
is a nice pick up. It'll give you TV on your PC along with some good features with Multimedia Center at a very reasonable price. You’ll still need another video card with a TV out if you want to output to a TV though. But if you just want TV for your PC then this card will do you just fine. multView works as advertised with this card and another All-in-Wonder
card. For more those who want more inputs and stereo broadcasts, you're going to have to look somewhere else. Otherwise, the TV Wonder VE Remote Control Edition
are good buys for non-enthusiasts. It’s not too expensive and you do receive a card along with a very good remote.