iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail

Platform

Video

Multimedia

Mobile

Other

ATI All-In-Wonder 9700 PRO

June 7, 2003






In the all-in-one segment, i.e. in a segment of video cards equipped with a TV tuner, remote control and other accessories NVIDIA's position is weaker than its competitor's one. Although the situation is changing, but the throne belongs to ATI with its All-In-Wonder line developed covering several generations of video cards.

The current flagship of the All-In-Wonder RADEON 9700 PRO series is the most considerable card among all home video cards available. Also, it comes with a remote control so that you do not need to come to the PC every time you need to pause or rewind a movie :-).

Beside the fact that the card is a good multimedia solution, it is equipped with a TV tuner, a video I/O and a remote control, it is also built on a very powerful chip RADEON 9700 PRO, which ensures high performance in games.
 

The box contents

 




The reference card came in an OEM package. Here is what I found here in several packets:

  • Card
  • DVI-to-D-Sub adapter for analog monitor
  • Remote Control + USB radio-frequency receiver
  • 4 batteries for RC
  • Adapter for output connector (S-Video, RCA for composite signal, mini-jack for a sound card's line-in and S/PDIF for Dolby Digital external decoder for DVD playback)
  • Adapter for input connector (S-Video, 3 RCA connectors for video and two audio channels)
  • S-Video cables - S-Video and RCA - RCA
  • CD with drivers and software
  • Color brochure with 2 (!) pages briefly describing installation in 4 languages
  • User Guide for remote control in 6 :-) languages

Design

ATI All-In-Wonder 9700 PRO







 
 
 
ATI All-In-Wonder 9700 PRO
AGP X2/4/8 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM in 8 chips on both PCB sides. 256bit memory interface.

Samsung K4D26323RA-GC2A memory chips, BGA form-factor. Maximum clock speed is 350 (700) MHz, hence 2.8 ns access time. The memory works at 310 (620) MHz, the chip at 325 MHz.





 
 
 



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.

Video processor

  • 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 theory
  • Integrated anti-aliasing filters
  • High-quality horizontal and vertical scaling
  • Constant sharpness control
  • White color peak values control
  • Noise Reduction
  • Macrovision support

Audio processor

  • 16-bit audio-out
  • 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

Testbed

  • 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

Connection





I'm glad the card has no problems with the tuner unit size and layout of external connectors.




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? :-).

Adjustment

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 Component Install
 
 




and ATI codecs for DVD playback (which, by the way, are included into the MMC 8.0)
 
 




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 frequency.
 
 




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.
 





Quality

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.

ATI MultiMediaCenter

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 the control.

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 Heavy mode.

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 article Composite 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.

Composite signal












S-Video













 
 
 

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 at www.ati.com, 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:

  • ACDSee (!)
  • BSPlayer
  • Hollywood+ Card (!!) 
  • Media Player Classic 
  • n.player 
  • PowerDVD 4 XP 
  • PowerPoint (all versions) (!!!)
  • WinAmp (2 and 3) 
  • Windows Media Player 6.4 
  • Windows Media Player 9
  • WinDVD 4 Platinum 
  • ZoomPlayer

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 :-).

Conclusion

My personal attitude changed several times during the tests, but everything has its end, and it's the right time to sum it up.

Highs:

  • Good sensitivity of the TV tuner
  • Acceptable quality of the image received in most cases
  • TV-on-Demand support
  • Crop Video option
  • Decent capture quality from external sources both via the S-Video and the composite input
  • 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 line-of-sight coverage
  • Audio processor with the digital-out
  • Good performance in games
  • Overclockable :-)

Lows:

  • 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.
 
 

Aleksei Samsonov aka AŽS (als@ixbt.com)
 

Write a comment below. No registration needed!


Article navigation:



blog comments powered by Disqus

  Most Popular Reviews More    RSS  

AMD Phenom II X4 955, Phenom II X4 960T, Phenom II X6 1075T, and Intel Pentium G2120, Core i3-3220, Core i5-3330 Processors

Comparing old, cheap solutions from AMD with new, budget offerings from Intel.
February 1, 2013 · Processor Roundups

Inno3D GeForce GTX 670 iChill, Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti Graphics Cards

A couple of mid-range adapters with original cooling systems.
January 30, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1

An external X-Fi solution in tests.
September 9, 2008 · Sound Cards

AMD FX-8350 Processor

The first worthwhile Piledriver CPU.
September 11, 2012 · Processors: AMD

Consumed Power, Energy Consumption: Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge

Trying out the new method.
September 18, 2012 · Processors: Intel
  Latest Reviews More    RSS  

i3DSpeed, September 2013

Retested all graphics cards with the new drivers.
Oct 18, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, August 2013

Added new benchmarks: BioShock Infinite and Metro: Last Light.
Sep 06, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, July 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 and AMD Radeon HD 7730.
Aug 05, 2013 · 3Digests

Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB Golden Sample Graphics Card

An excellent hybrid of GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GeForce GTX 660.
Jun 24, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

i3DSpeed, May 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770/780.
Jun 03, 2013 · 3Digests
  Latest News More    RSS  

Platform  ·  Video  ·  Multimedia  ·  Mobile  ·  Other  ||  About us & Privacy policy  ·  Twitter  ·  Facebook


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Copyright © Byrds Research & Publishing, Ltd., 1997–2011. All rights reserved.