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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, I just wanted to drop a note about my recent pre-Christmas Christmas gift. I bought for myself an ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon 7500 card, figuring I'd upgrade my Matrox G200 (8mb) AGP card to what appears to be the accepted HTPC standard video card (Radeon 7500) with a nice SDTV tuner card and RF remote for just $20 more. I got it at CompUSA on the Friday after Thanksgiving, with special rebate pricing of $99 ($129-$30 mail-in rebate). Here is a review of that card, from my relatively non-HT-purist point of view:


The install went very smoothly, and it came with plenty of software. The remote works very well once I bought a $10 10' USB extension cable to move the RF receiver away from the PC and nearer to my seat.


The picture quality of DVD's played with PowerDVD isn't noticably better than my G200, but I thought the picture I was getting from the G200 was pretty good. I used the THX Optimizer tests found on a few DVDs and the blue film to calibrate it for movies. For wide panning shots, I don't get as much stutter (which was my main problem with the G200), but I still get a little (which could be due to the only 450Mhz PIII processor.)


The supplied DVD player software is well integrated with the remote but unfortunately, it doesn’t recognize my SoundBlaster Audigy as a valid target for the SPDIF audio stream, so I won’t be using it. I actually use my Audigy as the DD/DTS decoder and output 6 analog streams to my receiver. I have yet to find any way to unhook the remote from ATI’s player and use it with PowerDVD.


The TV tuner software is fairly nice, and comes with all the bells and whistles including passable PVR functionality, but it takes about 8 seconds to boot up, which is about 6 seconds too long for the wife! The included Guide+ service/software is free to register, but is also slow to start up, and doesn’t handle midnight very well. Toggling between just TV, and Guide+ with the TV in a window takes several seconds. For those of us now used to TiVo (which I have upstairs), this is a little painful.


Once kinda cool feature of the TV tuner is the ability to overlay the TV on top of the desktop software, so if you can focus on two things at once (not necessarily an easy task) you can surf the web full screen while the TV is superimposed on some or all of the screen. This is clearly a feature that is only useful when there is one viewer, and they basically want to keep an eye on the TV while surfing (not the other way around, though.)


Problems:

The RF receiver for the remote seems to conflict at boot time with my Logitech Cordless Freedom kbd and optical mouse (the remote has a mouse D-pad on it.) I end up having to disconnect the RF receiver during bootup.


I quickly discovered that when I wired the audio to my Audigy sound card, I was getting an echo in the sound. After fighting with the audio levels and options, I finally looked it up on ATI’s site. They had a tech note about the Audigy’s apparently unconventional Aux input design, and basically said to use the Mic input instead. This is working fine now, although getting the audio levels to work with WAV/MP3, TV Tuner and PowerDVD->SPDIF->Audigy is really tricky. I basically have to turn everything else way down because the Audigy decodes the DD/DTS at a fairly quiet relative level, and I have to have the receiver turned up pretty loud to get good movie sound.


I’d also like to find a way to quickly switch between a few color schemes (gamma, mostly) for DVDs, games, TV and regular desktop viewing. ATI has schemes for monitor layouts, but not for color/gamma settings. Do I need to dig into Windows Scripting Host or WinBatch to do this?


-Andrew
 

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Sound like Power Strip will be the answer to your question of multiple settings of display.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I thought PowerStrip was for custom timings and resolutions. It does gamma settings too? Since I have a data-grade projector with a nice, standard VGA cable, I don't need any custom timings or resolutions.


I'll check it out. Thanks.


-Andrew
 

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Does your projector have a DIV (M1-DA actually) input? I have the Cinema12SF (InFocus LS110) and use it via the VGA for now, but I am working on getting the AIW7500 connected to it with the DVI out of this card.


Yes, Power Strip can do custom gamma setings as well, even monitor the application that you are starting up and change the display to match it...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
No, my InFocus LP770 doesn't have DVI input, just VGA, svideo and composite. The VGA input can be configured for RGB or YPbPr, but I don't have any other source besides the HTPC.


Thanks, Al.


-Andrew
 
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