AMD recently released two new ATI TV Wonder HD tuners, both of which have been in our lab for the past few months. In that time, we’ve put them through numerous tests to see what each one was made of. While the 600 PCI left a bit to be desired, the 650 Combo USB proves to do a lot of things right.
Both tuner cards being reviewed today use identical driver installation schemes and can be operated with the same ATI Catalyst Media Center program or with Windows Media Center. Installing the WDM drivers and Catalyst Media Center is very straightforward regardless of the operating system being used.
Windows XP users will likely want to install Catalyst Media Center and AVIVO drivers for the most functionality, but users running Windows Vista or Windows Media Center may opt to install the WDM integrated drivers only, because Windows Media Center can control all of the functions of these ATI tuner cards while offering more functionality.
Installing the infrared receiver for the included remote is as easy as plugging it in and positioning it. Other than putting batteries in the remote, nothing more is required to remotely control the ATI Catalyst Media Center.
Some readers may appreciate more information on Catalyst Media Center, including a demo, which can be found here.
Once the card(s), drivers and Catalyst Media Center are installed, setting up the cards in Catalyst Media Center is fairly simple. Note that ClearQAM digital cable signals can only be properly received in Windows Vista – only analog cable or over-the-air ATSC broadcasts can be viewed in Windows XP.
The process is easy except for setting up the electronic programming guide (EPG). The list of signal providers can be rather long and include duplicates, meaning that it may take a few tries in order to receive the correct channel information. This is one area where there is definite room for improvement – Windows Media Center’s EPG is much more accurate and automated – more in that later.
Once the setup wizard is complete, users are returned to the home screen of Catalyst Media Center.