ATI All-In-Wonder 9000

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mastermesh

SatelliteGuys Pro
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Apr 18, 2006
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Yes, it's not really FTA equipment, but it is sort of related - it's a pci card to send tv signals to and from your computer.

I've used the card for a long while - especially a couple of years ago when I had cable...

It's nice that it can both import and export tv. I am pretty sure it can't get epg info off of satellite, but if you have cable, it can get all of that... Also, it's a true tv tuner card... so if you have ota antenna hooked up, in addition to satellite or cable, you can flip channels in the computer's program and see other channels on tv while your tv is on one channel... pretty cool. Works best for cable though.

When I had cable, I used the program guide all the time... basically it downloads an entire week's program list at a time, and you can scroll through it, pick a show you want, just check a box, and it'll automatically kick on and record in mpg quality of your choice, goes from low quality to super high dvd quality, right there on your computer... and they you can either watch the mpg file later, record it to dvd, or if you set it up right, send the signal back out to your tv! (I plan on getting mine to send signal back to the tv once I get it all rigged up this weekend)

What's nice is that if you go for the older models, like the ati All In Wonder 9000, you can get em on Ebay right now for about 30 bucks. I know this because I ordered one the other day, and it came in last night - had to get a new one since I bent the pins on my old one, and figured spending 30 bucks for a new card and all the parts is better than spending 10 bucks on ebay just to replace the cord that was bad. (be careful with the pins on the cord that goes to tv out - they bend easily - bending them can screw the signal up and turn it in to only black and white instead of color...)

I will warn you, you may go through driver hell in getting the right driver from ati, but once you get the correct, up to date drivers, things go very smoothly.

I was checking it out the other day - I think my extra 160 gig hard drive can record something like 26 hours or so in true dvd quality... at least it can do that for the free space left on it... can't remember how much space I've got burned on it at the moment with other files...

It used to be, not sure if it's still the case, that ati cards were the only ones that could record in true dvd quality pixel aspect ratio. Other cards downsized things. I haven't looked in to that aspect of things for a couple of years though, so things may be different nowadays.

Also, getting signal to the tv out with sound can be a bit of a hassle since the card is only a graphics card.. you have to get the sound card to export to the tv somehow... which is a slightly convoluted process. It's doable, and I plan on doing it, and have done it, but it takes a bit of tinkering, and maybe a few other cheap parts, to do... I think my way of doing it involved using a special cord of some sort that came with my digital camera, that was originally intended to send digital camera's pics to the tv... somehow that cord has one end that hooks to sound card's line out... and has another end that looks like the audio connector to a vcr's line in... but you may need to go through a converter like the ones you sometimes have to use to go from digital signal to analog to get a dvd player to work on an analog tv...

I guess something like this is totally not needed if you have a dvb card in your computer, but it is nice to have for tv recording power... it basically turns your computer in to a dvr/pvr that can record tons and tons of hours - time is really only limited by your hard drive's size... although I think windows xp's file size limit is around 3 gigs, so recording over 3 gigs at once without inturruption may be an issue, but recording lots of smaller files like an hour here, an hour there may not be - and that whole issue may be resolved by now?

Overall, I love the ati card. I do wish, however, that it's multi-monitor support was better, and do wish that it was better at getting the screen proportions better as it can mess things up badly if you go to too big of a screen resolution in your main computer monitor. Also, I wish the driver issues weren't as bad, but for a nice, cheap way of getting tv signals recorded, it's about the best solution out there since it's basically got the same power as a tivo type machine, but you don't have to pay as much since most of the power comes from your already existing computer. I have never tested out newer cards, but I do know ati has a trade up discount program, so if you have an old card like this, they'll let you trade it in for a brand new top of the line card and get 50.00 or so back... so buy a 30.00 cheapo from ebay, buy the new card, and trade it in, getting 50.00 back on it, and you are sort of saving yourself 20.00 in a really roundabout way that's probably nullified by shipping costs... Honestly, I wouldn't mind a newer card, but even with the 50.00 off, 150.00 sounds a bit pricey to just watch tv on a computer to me.

The thing can both import tv and export. It can pull in ota or cable signals through a coax port on the card.

There's special cords that come with it to do s-video, component out, and send the sound coming in through the coax out to your soundcard.

Also, it's got a remote control with a remote control signal receiver thingy that plugs in to a usb port. It's a pretty snazzy remote, and more or less works like a high tech mouse on your computer. I love that little thing, but don't use it much since most of my computer's usb ports are being utilized in other ways most of the time.

It does use a lot of cpu usage on my computer, but usually only in the 80-90% range.. that's probably due to me only having a 1.5 ghz machine with 512 mb ram...

Biggest con to this thing is that it's a pain to get the right driver, the card uses ati's drivers, so can't utilize some high powered video game stuff that's specially meant to work with nvidia cards, and the pins on the tv out cord are pretty fragile and easy to bend.
 
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