The idea of providing an HDTV tuner card is nothing new. In fact, card manufacturers such as Hauppauge have been providing HDTV tuner cards for years in anticipation of HDTV’s widespread adoption. Therefore going into the HDTV WONDER ATI knew they’d have to do something different in order to differentiate themselves from the competition.
One of the keys to achieving this is through the card’s hardware, as well as implementing some of the unique features found in their popular TV WONDER and ALL-IN-WONDER products. Therefore it was decided early on in the card’s development that ATI’s PC multimedia team (responsible for the ALL-IN-WONDER/TV WONDER line) would work with the company’s digital TV unit, whose products appear in set-top boxes and digital television sets. The chip at the heart of the HDTV WONDER, NXT2004, is a perfect example of this.
The NXT2004 chip
HDTV WONDER board
ATI’s NXT2004 Multimode VSB/QAM demodulator is configurable to work in either the ATSC compliant 8 VSB mode for terrestrial broadcasting or in the ITU-J.83B/SCTE DVS-031/ DOCSISTM compliant 64 QAM or 256 QAM modes for Digital TV-Cable Connect and Digital TV-Cable Interactive reception. What does this mean in English? The demodulator converts the 8VSB signals (the DTV signal) captured by the antenna and converts them into data the computer can understand, MPEG2, or when used by a cable provider, QAM demodulation is used. Basically, it determines which DTV signals the user is able to receive. The chip is designed for use in set-top boxes and off-air and cable digital television receivers, where ATI has scored design wins from manufacturers such as Samsung and Sony.
In the HDTV WONDER, the NXT2004 takes the DTV broadcasts off the air and converts them into MPEG; QAM demodulation (converting the signal from a cable provider) is disabled. All you need to receive DTV signals is a UHF (ultra-high frequency) HDTV antenna, which is included in the HDTV WONDER’s packaging.
The antenna is fairly small, roughly 8.5” tall, 13” long, and just over a foot in width. The base is small enough to rest on a 15” monitor, ATI even includes coaxial cable for connecting the antenna to the HDTV WONDER. As a result, everything you need to watch DTV is included in the box, with no subscription fees to pay! If you’d like you can even connect an outdoor antenna to the HDTV WONDER.
In addition to watching DTV programming, HDTV WONDER is still capable of receiving analog TV signals, just like today’s ALL-IN-WONDER and TV WONDER tuner cards. In fact, HDTV WONDER improves upon TV WONDER by enabling TV-ON-DEMAND (timeshifting) allowing you to pause live TV and watch it later. Essentially ATI has combined the best of both worlds into HDTV WONDER, and sweetened the package further by including REMOTE WONDER.
REMOTE WONDER is ATI’s highly-regarded remote control unit. REMOTE WONDER can be used to perform many common TV functions, such as channel changing and volume control, as well as providing the functionality found needed multimedia players (stop/play/pause, rewind/fast-forward, record, etc). REMOTE WONDER can even be used as a mouse – the directional thumb pad on the top of the remote is used for mouse control, while left and right mouse buttons flank the thumb pad. For added flexibility, six programmable buttons are also present on REMOTE WONDER, these buttons can be used to perform practically any function imaginable.
REMOTE WONDER is a radio frequency (RF) remote line-of-sight isn’t necessary to operate the remote control unit. The remote can even go through walls and has a distance of 50 feet.