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Product : All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro
Company : ATI Technologies
Author : Mark 'Ratchet' Thorne
Date : November 29th, 2003

Hardware

Theater 200 Chip

Theater 200 chip
Theater 200 chip
To ensure excellent analog-to-digital conversion, it boasts dual 12-bit ADCs (up from 9-bit ADCs on previous versions). It also has a 3-line comb filter as opposed to the 2-line comb filter found on earlier versions which, while it probably won't be very noticeable over standard cable or antenna signals, will offer slightly better overall image quality.

Cobra Engine

Thanks to the Cobra engine, the AIW 9800 Pro offers not only hardware MPEG decoding (for watching movies) but also hardware MPEG encoding (for editing video). This takes some of the load off the CPU and puts it on the AIW instead, freeing up the CPU to do other things. ATI claims that 20-25% of the CPU load can be shifted to the AIW during MPEG encoding using the Cobra engine.

The Cobra Engine also includes ATI's VideoSoap system. VideoSoap uses the 9800 Pro's pixel shading engine in an attempt to clean up noise from video that is being sent through the Cobra engine. It does this by applying up to four filters to it: blur, despeckle, sharpen, and up to two combinations of those three. Thanks to VideoSoap, not only does the resulting video look better but the file sizes can also be smaller. Compression algorithms use data patterns to compress data. If you introduce random noise into the video, pattern recognition becomes much less effective and data can not be compressed as much. By removing the noise using VideoSoap before it gets compressed, the compression algorithm become much more effective resulting in smaller file sizes.

TV-Tuner Hardware

Philips TV Tunder
Philips TV Tunder
ATI sort of experimented with a purely digital TV-Tuner with the Radeon 8500DV. It was soon realized though that, since most TV today is still analog, a digital TV-Tuner was unnecessarily complex for most users. ATI since then has gone back to using an analog TV-Tuner made by Philips. The Philips TV-Tuner is capable of tuning 125 channels with stereo sound if provided. This is sufficient for most cable TV users. Users with set-top boxes will have to tune to channel 3 or 4 (the same way as if you were using a VCR) to use the TV-Tuner.

Remote Wonder

Remote Wonder
Remote Wonder
It'd be pretty pointless to have all these TV features without including a remote to control everything from the comfort of your recliner. Thankfully, included in the AIW 9800 Pro bundle is an ATI Remote Wonder. The Remote Wonder uses Radio Frequency (RF) to send signals to your PC, not Infra-Red (IR) like most standard remotes. It has a good range of up to 30 feet - even through walls and floors/ceilings - so you can control your AIW from just about any room in your house. This will come in handy for some users when ATI releases Catalyst 3.10 in December which will come with an updated MMC to allow streaming TV over your LAN. The Remote Wonder is a little annoying for me though. I bought a fairly expensive programmable remote last summer to cut down of the 5 remotes I had cluttering up my coffee table. Since the programmable remote is IR based, it can not be programmed with the Remote Wonders features. An optional IR based Remote Wonder, one that will work happily along-side the RF Remote Wonder, would be a God-send for me. For further information on the Remote Wonder, you can read our early stand-alone Remote Wonder review here.






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