Except the TV tuner unit and heatsinks mounted on some components and used
for elimination of pickups rather than for removing heat, the design of
the card hasn't changed much. Only the D-Sub connector is removed in order
to save space, and an analog monitor can be connected only via an adapter.
As we mentioned in the Connect3D
card review, the All-In-Wonder cards of the last generation built on
the RADEON 8500 had their clock speeds lowered for higher stability, which
brought the performance down. Now the card has normal memory and core clock
speeds, as well as a good overclocking potential (!), and this particular
sample works at 360/ 342 (684) MHz without any problems. Traditionally,
we should warn you about additional cooling since the tuner's unit also
contributes to the heat development.
Other 3D performance issues won't be discussed for the well-known reasons.
Look at the components.
It turned out that in spite of the new video decoder chip named THEATER
200 which replaced the Rage Theater, the tuner is still built on the obsolete
Philips FQ1261ME (at least, it is multi-standard). It's an odd combination.
Specification of the THEATER 200
In contrast to the Philips 7108/7114 used on other boards, the THEATER
200 is an integrated processor, i.e. it processes both video and audio.
PAL, SECAM and NTSC of all types supported (in comparison with the Philips
7108/7114 which lacks for the SECAM support)
Y:Pr:Pb component output supported, though it can be interesting only in
Integrated anti-aliasing filters
High-quality horizontal and vertical scaling
Constant sharpness control
White color peak values control
BTSC, DualFM, EIA-J, NICAM supported
32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 96kHz
Programmable volume level control
Volume level control according to the input signal volume level
I2S and S/PDIF digital interfaces supported
Athlon 2000XP CPU
Gigabyte 7VAX (KT400) mainboard
512 MB PC3200 Samsung
Creative Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 audio card
80 Gb IBM/Hitachi IC35L090AVV207-0 hard drive
Windows XP Professional
I'm glad the card has no problems with the tuner unit size and layout of
Therefore, the installation is easy.
However, the output connector has bad contact. Probably, this is a problem
of this particular sample, but I feel nervous even with those things which didn't
bother me in case of the WinFast Cinema. Although I pressed it well, the color
on the S-Video and then the composite signal refused to appear at all. I managed
to reestablish the contact by turning the connector in the vertical plane. The
cables on the monitor's connector helped me partially, but I didn't like that
way :-). Probably, this is a defect of this sample.
The package of the box with input connectors also contains stickers
for the box and surface it stands on...
It's very convenient, but what if I decide to move the box to another place?
By the moment of testing the company made available new WDM drivers 6198v1.
Although this is a beta version, it makes possible to adjust the SECAM
D/K without problems. The ATI MultiMediaCenter (MMC)
is also updated up to v8.5. In addition, the Catalyst 3.4 were also used
in the tests.
The installation of the drivers reminded me the useful pastime sometimes
called RTFM :-). The FAQ at www.sapphiretech.ru
warned me about the Bill Gates's intrigues:
"4. Install WDM driver. Do not reboot (though the Windows will
ask you about it)!
5. Install Catalyst driver. Reboot.
6. Install ATI Control Panel. Reboot."
I didn't take the risk to find out what expects those who'd dare to
reboot after installation of the WDM drivers :-).
After installation of the drivers the system shows the following
Installation of the MMC 8.5 started with accusing me of lacking Unified
and ATI codecs for DVD playback (which, by the way, are included into the
Fortunately, everything could be found on the CD supplied :-).
The TV tuner adjustment program offers two methods of channel searching
- Fast and Exhaustive
in both cases you can select Russia
In the Fast mode I immediately got all 11 channels available, and
all other channels are represented in the grid.
The Exhaustive searching takes 10 minutes, and it also finds all
channels. But the list now contains only the channels found,
and here you can manually Add Channels by entering a respective
However, after the Exhaustive Scan channels are switched with 2-3
sec delays. Also there can be pickups on the screen. There is nothing similar
in the Fast mode, but channel switching also causes such artifacts.
That is why it's for you to decide which mode to choose.
I was touched by their concern about absent-minded users who might forget
to connect the tuner to the sound card :-)
and by the possibility to set parameters of the TV-on-Demand recording.
At first glance, the quality is not bad
But the obsolete tuner and probably insufficient screening affect it. Just
look at the following pictures (I'd like to thank the developers of the commercial
advertising Whiskas which helps a lot in searching artifacts :-)). Note
that the WinFast Cinema looks great in the same conditions.
At the same time, the Crop Video option lets us get rid of the borders,
The Leadtek's solution doesn't support it.
What is MMC and its capabilities were discussed in the All-In-Wonder
RADEON 8500 DV Review. Here we will dwell just on a few aspects.
So, if you are going to use Channel Surf
do not use the Cyrillic characters in channel names otherwise you will
get the following
The well-arranged Stills Gallery allows looking through all shots
and removing them before saving,
though it can be disabled.
Library. It is a powerful tool for searching and sorting files the
MMC works with.
The v8.5 got the EAZYLOOK technology which can be enabled with the
full screen button on the RC.
Its idea is simple - in the full-screen mode the overlay window displays
semitransparent menu items which make it very easy to learn how to manage
Such standard settings as volume, brightness, contrast are also available,
as well as the record scheduler
and Library option.
And for dessert there is a help screen :-).
At the same time, the design and animation are praiseworthy, - far not
every good TV set offers such options.
Image capture and processing
The Personal Video Recorder offers a wide range of changeable parameters
of video capture,
with 4 frequently used ones being available right away.
The program offers enough presets for basic formats. You can change
any of them and even create your own formats using any exterior codecs.
One more interesting option is VideoSoap which conquers noise in
images captured. By the way, the CPU power is not enough in the
Look at the capture quality from an external source which in this case
is comprised of the card's video-out with the following settings
and "The Fast and the Furious" DVD movie played in the PAL standard...
If you are interested in the TV-out adjustment have a look at Andrei Karpenko's
and S-Video Connection of RADEON Cards to TV and Movie Playback. Note
that there is no visible difference in TV quality from ordinary cards based
on the RADEON 9700 PRO.
In case of the composite signal, the quality looks pretty good. Probably,
this is the contribution of the new chip THEATER 200, because we didn't
notice such quality with the chips of the previous generation.
ATI Remote Control
The appearance and connection of the remote control was described in the
All-In-Wonder RADEON 8500 DV Review mentioned above. But this component
needs more attention than we could expected.
By the way, its driver can be installed even on a virtue OS and you
can reboot the system in any order.
It's is detected as a USB device:
I have downloaded the latest driver v1.5 from http://remotew.free.fr/.
It also covers the EAZYLOOK support. Sure, we could find the driver
but if you enter the Plugins
section, you will see that there are a lot of applications that get under
the control. Here is a part of the list:
Hollywood+ Card (!!)
Media Player Classic
PowerDVD 4 XP
PowerPoint (all versions) (!!!)
WinAmp (2 and 3)
Windows Media Player 6.4
Windows Media Player 9
WinDVD 4 Platinum
Sure it's for you to decide, but I really like the possibility of watching
movies in the WinDVD and being able to control all function :-).
My personal attitude changed several times during the tests, but everything
has its end, and it's the right time to sum it up.
Good sensitivity of the TV tuner
Acceptable quality of the image received in most cases
Crop Video option
Decent capture quality from external sources both via the S-Video and the
Rich sampling functions including VideoSoap option
User-friendly multifunctional software
Remote control system supporting various applications
RC Radio channel works at the distance up to 9 meters irrespective of the
Audio processor with the digital-out
Good performance in games
Obsolete TV tuner
Pickups, problems with colors of the image received
Unreliable commutation (it's time to think about additional fixing)
Difficulties in software installation
Delays or artifacts when channels are switched
Cyrillic characters are not supported for Channel Surf
No FM tuner
I can't decide the TV quality issue once and for all. On one hand, there
are some unpleasant moments, but on the other hand, you won't notice them
if you watch TV in a small window in parallel to your work, that is why
I put it both into the Highs and Lows.
So, what's the final conclusion?
This is one of the fastest cards on the market with a pretty good chip
THEATER 200 and not very good TV tuner, though it comes with comprehensive
software and an interesting remote control.
Write a comment below. No registration needed!