Video cards expand options to link
PCs with TVs
by Alan Zisman (c) 2002
First published in Business in
Issue #654 May 6- 12, 2002, High Tech Office column
A TV screen and a computer monitor appear to be pretty
feature big, bulky cathode-ray picture tubes, and on the surface would
seem like they ought to be interchangeable.
Twenty-five years ago, budget-minded Apple II,
Atari or Tandy computer users could save
the price of a
monitor by hooking
their first-generation PC up to an old TV. But not any more. Your
screen is a much higher-resolution display than the rec-room TV.
Your TV won't cut it for editing small text in
your word processor.
But you may want to display your PowerPoint presentation on a big TV in
the boardroom. Or record it on to videotape to send to a client. Or do
the opposite: Watch or record TV or video on your computer.
(www.atitech.com) is a world-class leader in computer
video-cards. Its All-in-Wonder Radeon 8500 DV ($629) is its
product. It puts a wide range of TV inputs and outputs on an add-in
that replaces the video-card that came with your desktop PC.
Built around ATI's top-of-the-line Radeon 8500, its 64
MBs offer computer
video performance that will satisfy all but the most rabid game-playing
fanatic when plugged into either a standard monitor or a new-generation
digital LCD panel.
As well, it adds a standard TV cable input and tuner
along with inputs
and outputs for connection to VCRs, DVD-players, camcorders and more.
"DV" in its name stands for "digital video," made possible by the
of a pair of Firewire ports, for connection to digital camcorders and
The software lets you watch TV on your desktop with a
host of extra
features. You can view thumbnails of all your channels at once, capture
stills or video clips, or send the close-captioning text to your
Set a timer to record a show onto your hard drive with up to
(That's assuming you've got a lot of free hard drive space. For the
quality you'll need eight MBs of space for each second. However, there
are lots of less demanding, lower-quality options.) Or set it to scan
news, and start recording when your company's name is mentioned.
GuidePlus software lets you select programs to watch or record from a
of online TV Guide.
To use these video features, however, you'll need
Windows ME, 2000,
or XP. Windows 95 and 98 users need not apply. (And some older systems
may have problems unless the card's Firewire port is disabled.)
Alternatively, you can connect to a large screen TV to
presentations, or output them or your digital video productions for
onto analog tape or, using the Firewire port, onto a digital camcorder.
A copy of Ulead's
5 software is included to help you produce those video clips. (Also
is a copy of the popular HalfLife: Counterstrike game.)
And like any self-respecting video gadget, there's a
In this case, it's radio-powered for more range than the one that came
with your TV. It even functions as a computer mouse.
If the price seems too steep, check out the
All-in-Wonder Radeon 7500.
With a somewhat less-powerful video card and no Firewire ports, but
similar video in and out capabilities, it's a more affordable
You can get high-end computer graphics performance for
GeForce cards are particularly well thought-of these days).
For digital camcorder connections, you can add a
separate Firewire card
to desktop PCs for under $100. (ATI sells one under the name "DV
including the same VideoStudio software.)
But if you want or need all of this together with a
complete set of
video input and output capabilities and well thought-out software
and if you've got the budget for it all, the All-in-Wonder 8500DV is
one for you.