ATI TV Wonder 650 review: ATI TV Wonder 650

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.5
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Best TV tuner image quality we've seen; offer for free remote by mail; includes media management software.

The Bad Free remote requires shipping charge; still a stop-gap measure until the next generation of TV tuners.

The Bottom Line ATI's flagship TV tuner card offers the best image quality we've seen from a TV tuner card and includes over-the-air HDTV support, but it's still not as good as a direct cable-box-to-TV signal.

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Viewing and recording TV signals through your PC is at best a messy affair, with a wide variety of hardware and software combos attempting to replicate the simple utility of the popular TiVo set-top box. Even when everything works out perfectly, you're usually stuck with a signal that's seriously degraded when compared to that of a basic cable-box-to-TV connection. ATI's new flagship TV tuner is the $125 TV Wonder 650, and thanks to its use of ATI's new Theater 650 Pro chip, it provides the best signal quality we've seen to date from a TV tuner card. Since budget TV tuner cards aren't much cheaper, this should be your go-to choice, especially if you're using a large display where errors are more readily apparent.

The ATI TV Wonder 650 includes inputs for both cable/satellite signals and over-the-air (OTA) HD signals. The latter requires an antenna correctly positioned to receive OTA transmissions but is the only option right now for HDTV content through a PC TV tuner. An external connection block that plugs in to the card provides composite and S-Video inputs.

The latest version of ATI's software, Catalyst Media Center, is cleanly designed and easy to navigate. While you can watch and record TV and access music and videos through it, there is no tab for photos, which keeps it from being a full substitute for Microsoft's Media Center Edition (MCE) OS. It does include a handy transcoding app that converts video files for use on, for example, a PSP or a video iPod.

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Where to Buy See All

ATI TV Wonder 650

Part Number: 100-715331 Released: Aug. 21, 2006
MSRP: $129.00 Low Price: $233.03 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Aug. 21, 2006
  • Interface Type PCI
About The Author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.