ATI All-In-Wonder HD Video Card ReviewFri, Oct 31, 2008 - 12:00 AM
Thoughts and Conclusion
In my time with the ATI AIW HD I have found that it succeeds where it was intended to. Playback of OTA HD is terrific, DVD playback is flawless with less than 2 percent CPU usage. Again, FM radio playback was good and had acceptable reception for almost all local stations.
Video quality is a litter harder to judge, especially with JPEG compression, but I find the AIW HD very capable of producing clear images and has no problem keeping the action flowing smoothly on the screen. Of note is the option in Catalyst Control Center to set up custom resolutions and refresh rates. This card does support the resolution of 1920×1080 at 120Hz, unfortunately I cannot say how well this works as I don’t have a 120Hz HD panel to play with (maybe for Christmas?).
There is little to dislike about the card, it is very quiet in operation and under the highest HD mode of operation the system uses less than 125W. Since so little power is used the video card stays nice and cool. One complaint that I have is that no remote is included in the bundle, it’s not a requisite these days but anyone looking to playback HD content, even in a non-home theater environment, is likely going to have a fairly large panel that they won’t want to sit a foot away from. Some companies do bundle a remote with the All-In-Wonder HD, so be sure one is included in the model you are looking at if that is what you are after. Another complaint is the included antenna; it is adequate but gets about half the reception of the unit bundled with the out-of-production HDTV Wonder. Again, it probably boils down to cost as that antenna would increase the package size.
Overall I feel that the ATI AIW HD is a great card for the casual gamer that is looking to upgrade their aging video card and would like to add HD content playback to their system. The bundled software is wonderful for anyone not planning to use Vista Media Center. For those discerning customers that are planning use with VMC in a HTPC environment you will need to take into account the compromises I mentioned above, as you’ll need to purchase a remote and may want to invest in a higher quality indoor antenna if you live in an apartment and aren’t getting great reception. Those who own a home will likely be more interested in a roof antenna, but at that point we’re starting to push the “value” segment in visual quality and headed toward dedicated Home Theatre hardware. Companies like Diamond Multimedia offer two versions of the ATI Radeon All-In-Wonder HD with the standard version running $156 without a remote and a ‘premium’ version with a remote for $189. This is nice as many of you may already own a remote and some HTPC cases like the Moneual Lab MonCaso 932B already come with a nice remote.
Legit Bottom Line: The All-In-Wonder HD combines the graphical power of a Radeon HD 3650 with TV tuner features of the TV Wonder 650 to make a single card soltution for those wanting the best of both worlds.