ATi HD-capable All-In-Wonder X1800 XL graphics/TV card - Bob C's 1st hands-on take

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PD
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bcrabtree wrote:
Hardcore gamers and well-off speed merchants will want to get some of the action. But so, too, will a bunch of other folk. The list includes those wanting to enjoy the latest and greatest video and TV formats and have powerful person video recorders. In addition, there will be a lot of people – irrespective of why they're picking a powerful graphics card in the first place - who'll see the whole spread of the card's capabilities, note the included editing software, and just won't be able to pass by such a good deal.

read more here, and please let us know your thoughts on the content of the preview and the product itself :)

cheers,

PD

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harlequin
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nice review .....

Gary MacKenzie

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bcrabtree
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harlequin wrote:
nice review .....

Bum, I thought I'd made clear that it was a preview, nothing more!

;)

Bob

PD
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bcrabtree wrote:
Bum, I thought I'd made clear that it was a preview, nothing more!

;)

Bob

that's what i said right? :o

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DVdoctor
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It will be very interesting to see Bob C's in depth review.

A few comments from the US side of things;

I believe that only in the US is the HDTV tuner available and that is a 119 dollar additional option.

The card for some strange reason uses the older lower quality Theater 200 chip, instead of the Theater 550 chip which offers much higher quality

Ati keeps talking about CONNECTING to your HDTV, NOT that this unit records in HD mode, or how this would work outside of the US.

With only 1 DVI connector it again seems odd, instead of a vga connector they probably should have put a second DVI connector since the DVI spec INCLUDED the analot VGA output, and not having the DVI connector will have some quality impact on your second monitor connector.

The card is HUGH, and people need to be very sure it will Fit into your system .

I certainly like what ATI seems to be doing, just wonder why they did not go "all the way"

John

bcrabtree
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Joined: Mar 7 1999

Well, in the UK and Europe there is no established HDTV terrestrial tuner standard - indeed I'm not sure you could say there is one for satellite either.

Most of the HD references that ATI makes are really to do with the graphics-card side, rather than the tuner, and are in terms of taking existing HD files and either viewing those on the PC or outputting them via component.

It's not clear why ATI has chosen the Theater 200 rather than the 500 but my guess is that there will be one of two reasons.

The first is cost. It may be that the company wanted to hit a particular price point and using the 500 would have prevented that.

Alternatively - or perhaps as well - it may be that some of the stuff handled by Theater 500 is done on the graphics side of the card already.

When our techies get hands on I think they're going to hassle the answers out of ATI - me, I'm just glad that I've pretty much finished with the card, cos it was a nightmare trying (and failing) to get the piece finished by the 11am (UK-time) announcement on Monday.

I'd wanted to include a decent picture of the card in situ but time and light preventing me from doing so until Thursday. I needed to do it in natural light and I simply never got round to it until Thursday when I got the card back from ATI (they'd needed it for Wed but that didn't really matter cos I slept through a lot of best light!).

But now I've shot the card in situ and put it up, the size will be very clear (though I've also made an unambiguous comment about the size, too, of course).

The lack of dual DVI is a disappointment but here I think the problem is that two DVIs plus all the other stuff the card can do in output terms is just a bit too much with the chipset that's being used to drive the output.

I'm pretty sure there was a way round the problem but not necessarily one that was practical given the intended price point.

Again, though, I reckon our techies will cover this side - which, really, I'd never intended to do.

Bob

PD
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bcrabtree wrote:
But now I've shot the card in situ and put it up, the size will be very clear (though I've also made an unambiguous comment about the size, too, of course).

The lack of dual DVI is a disappointment but here I think the problem is that two DVIs plus all the other stuff the card can do in output terms is just a bit too much with the chipset that's being used to drive the output.

I'm pretty sure there was a way round the problem but not necessarily one that was practical given the intended price point.

Again, though, I reckon our techies will cover this side - which, really, I'd never intended to do.

perhaps the primary reason for having one DVI connector, is because there was simply no real-estate left on the single-slot back-plane with all the other connectors.

if ATi Technologies had chosen to go with a second DVI connector, but in so doing it required using a dual-slot back-plane, then there may have been wider criticism about that. sometimes companies are caught between a rock and a hard place in their commercial decisions...

just a thought Bob, but adding an ATi RADEON X300 PCIe (circa £35) will give another DVI output, plus a D-SUB connector for 'triple-head' output.

if i'm not misaken then it should also ouptut to a fourth monitor via the TV-out for full screen video preview.

such a configuration is similar to the ATi AIW based system which DVdoctor displayed at VideoForum 2005 at the beginning of the year.

as the MESH MatriX2 1800AIW test system uses an ASUSTek A8R-MVP mainboard, then perhaps the ASUS PCI-E EXTREME EAX300SE-X/TD 128Mb would be a good choice.

this is available here from SCAN, currently for £36.18 inc VAT.

i suspect that with its purchasing-power MESH Computers could bundle one in for around a similar price, but people should be sympathetic to he fact that MESH would be installing, testing and expected to support the addition of this device...

cheers,

PD

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DVdoctor
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I guess I am looking at a different card here in the US vs UK, The additional connections are NOT on the card but use the extender connector and impliment the "Dominoes" for the other options here in the US. So at least here in the US, the issue of connector real estate is not an issue, looks like they just chose to only have analog VGA on the additional option at this point.

It will be interesting in the indepth review to see how the quality of the HD playback is with this card using the Componant connection and the lower spec chip vs what most people consider to be better DVI/ HDMI connector.

It looks like the home page link on the DVdoctor site is for the 800 back in July and not the 1800?

John

Terry Stetler
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Joined: Jun 2 2002

As a recent purchaser of an ATI AIW X600 PCIe all I can say is that if given the opportunity to do it again I wouldn't.

Unfortunately my main rigs mainboard died and the only A64 option on a mission critical weekend was a PCIe board, meaning the Matrox P-750 had to go on the shelf. In a weak moment I bought the AIW at CompUSA.

The ATI TV-out uses a very kludgy clone mode hack instead of proper hardware overlays like the Matrox cards. I find this capabilitiy a prerequisite in my editing rigs, so when I update the rest of my rigs to PICe they will get the Matrox APVe. 3 heads, 10 bit processing, HD or SD out and with SD you also get analog capture.

Nope...don't need a TV tuner. If I want to capture a TV show I can just switch the inputs to the satellite box, VCR or just plug in a USB tuner normally used for the laptop.

About the only advantage I see for editors is the upcoming implementation of Avivo XCode in the ATI X1xxx series cards. Having encodes go 4 to 5 times faster by channeling the proessing to the GPU would be nice, but I don't know if it's worth the other tradeoffs.

Terry Stetler

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