Pros:Wellworth the money for free OTA HDTV viewing. Excellent video and Good audio quality.
Cons:Time consuming install. Poor software support. No FM Tuner, Analog Tuner not recognized by MC.
The Bottom Line: If you have the technical knowledge and can live with the card's quirks in trade of watching HDTV on your PC then I would highly recommend it.
I spent 5-6 hrs installing and configuring this card and I finally got it to work in Media Center. One needs to have some PC know how to be able to make this thing work but once it works, the picture quality will blow you away. Even the local channels look much sharper. I have Windows XP MCE 2005 Edition and it was a challenge to make it to work in the Media Center environment. I had no choice but to make it work in MC or it's going back to the store because the software that came with it (ATI MMC) is useless. It was pretty obvious that ATI outsourced the software development of this card. No amount of patch updates can fix all the issues of the software and the outdated cosmetics is painful to look at. I've used other ATI software before and this does not even come close to the caliber of their other products.
Recommend this product?
Some reviews indicated that the HDTV Wonder works well in XP but not so much in MCE. On the contrary, once you find the the right way to install it, the card works well in MC. So far, I am able to use all the features in MCE with no issue including Zoom where others reported that it freezes up MC.
2 other hardwares you need to make the HDTV Wonder work hand in hand with MC are: DirectX 9.0 compliant video card and an analog tuner. Although the HDTV Wonder has a built in analog tuner, MC will only detect the digital signal making the analog tuner useless. If you bought a Win XP MCE PC, you should already have an analog tuner installed in one of the PCI slots. If you dont have it and would like to buy one, make sure that it is MC compatible.
This is what I did and recommend for a successful install on Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005:
TIP: Do not cut corners with the drivers installation. Always reboot/restart when asked.
Back up your files and reformat your HD for a clean install. I know it's a huge hassle to go through this but it did fix all the issues I had in my first installation attempt.
After reformatting, take the time to download and install the entire Windows Updates but DO NOT install Rollup 2 updates for MCE just yet. You need to install Rollup 1 first. Both updates add new features and stability to MC but what you need is the HDTV support in Rollup 1 found here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=169757bb-3a50-4d8d-99bd-f24c7f1d7855&DisplayLang=en
Once you successfully installed Rollup 1, go back to the Windows Update page and download and install Rollup 2.
Reinstall your updated video drivers/software
Download all the updated HDTV Wonder drivers from ATI. Note that these files need to be installed in sequence. This too was tricky to find so here is the URL: https://support.ati.com/ics/support/default.asp?deptID=894&task=knowledge&folderID=293
Turn off your PC and install the HDTV Wonder card
Install the updated HDTV Wonder files you just downloaded. Again these files need to be installed sequentially.
Run Media Center configuration and manually locate your TV signal
*You may need to Add Missing Channels manually in the Settings option if you know the channel and frequency for the DTV channel(s) youre missing.
Sit back. You are now ready to view free over-the-air HDTV programming.
This install was on:
OS: Windows XP MCE 2005
Processor: AMD Athlon 3500
Video Card: ATI X800XL 256
500W Antec PSU
Monitor: 19" LCD Widescreen DVI input
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