Experience with ATI TV Wonder

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I am pretty new in this business. I want to record my Star Trek Videos on VCD and watch them on a big TV. I'm checking out Websites for weeks now and now I want to buy a ATI TV Wonder Card. I have a 433 Celeron, 6 GB free space on a 5400 RPM Disk and 64 MB RAM. I chose this card because it is cheap and has MPEG1 and AVI- capture. Does anybody use this card ? Can I get the job done with this card ? Or am I a dreamer ?

-- Thomas Wolf (tjw@freenet.de), February 21, 2001


I have an ATI 32 mb capture card and while I am quite happy with it (there are few cards with as many inputs and outputs), its the VCD spec that fails to impress, unless you capture or manipulate from a prisine video source, such as DVD or perhaps DSS, but even then that is questionable. Basically you are taking VHS quality which is bad in the first place, then you are gonna capture it where you will lose some more quality, then encode it to VCD which will resize and drop frames, then try and display it to a big screen tv? I shudder to think about the resulting quality after you would have spent 2 days per movie doing that. Your system is also not adequate for video work..upgrade your ram and get some more HD space if you are getting into this game. Better yet, I would save some time and wait until your movies are on DVD and go an buy them or rent and rip them.


-- Tygrus (tygrus2000@hotmail.com), February 21, 2001.

For your system, you should get a Dazzle DVC2

-- MrVCD (not@vailible.com), February 22, 2001.

It's questionable, at the price, whether that ATI performs h/w MPEG-1 capture. If it performs it s/w (most likely), then your Celeron is simply too slow, your HDD likewise, and your RAM should be more. You should get PIII733 or better, a HDD 20GB or better with speed NOT less than 7200rpm (UltraWide SCSI or UltraATA100), and at the very least 128MB of RAM. You soon find out, in toto, that it isn't so cheap after all. Either way, if you seriously are going to capture video, your present system is not up to it.

-- Mehmet Tekdemir (turk690@yahoo.com), February 22, 2001.

If you are cheap like me (maintaining 3 systems), then you should consider purchasing one.

I am an owner of the same ATI TV Wonder card that you are looking at. It is running on a system using a Celeron 266 (no cache) overclocked to 300 MHz (soon to be a P3 850e come Monday, Mehmet!!!), 96 Meg, same disk drive spec's.

It is an inexpensive card based on the same Brooktree chip set used in many other cards by other companies. Before purchasing any card you should go to the manufacturers Web sites and check out their spec's, compatiblity issues, and any software that is included. Pricewatch.com is a great starting point as it not only list the going price of components but has manufacturers links.

I do experience sporadic system lock ups that I assume are due to my slow CPU. I don't (currently) meet ATI minimum hardware requirements. On the other hand, using Virtual Dub, I get very stable AVI captures and never experience any lock ups though I drop frames like mad when VD's CPU monitor peg's due to me experimenting with 702x480 resolutions (no suprise). Everthing gets run through TMPGEnc to convert to VCD compliant MPG1.

According to ATI the card (my words follow) is compatable with early 66 MHz bus Pentiums which are equalivalent to later Celerons. Your C 433 is equal to a P2 333 according to perfomance benchmarks at Toms Hardware Guide!

The quality of captures by different capture devices, sources, system performance, etc. needs some real study. The community really needs to post some very short VCD ready MPG1 samples so that the merits of each can be demonstrated.

Your choice.

-- me (snake_mountain@hotmail.com), February 22, 2001.

I'm not familiar with the ATI TV Wonder card. However, I did buy ATI's All in Wonder Raedon recently.

You should be able to convert your videos to MPEG1s and burn them onto CD-Rs. However, you may run into some other problems.

First - Will your DVD/VCD player play CD-R. Not all models will play home made VCDs on CD-R.

Second - Even if your DVD/VCD player will not play your homemade VCDs you could play them on your PC and send the display to a TV. (The All in Wonder Raedon has TV Out, but I don't see any Out features in the TV-Wonder specs listed on ATIs web page.)

Third - As some of the other respondants have mentioned, the quality of your homemade VCDs may not be that good when viewed on a TV. It may look ok on your computer, but your TV has a much lower resolution.

I have been trying to get some video converted into VCD compliant MPEG1 with limited success.

Depending on what process I follow, the quality of the output varies with the size of the output file.

Process 1

Capture AVI using Digital VCR (comes with ATI's video cards) or VirtualDub. Use VirtualDub to deinterlace (blend frames) and resize video. Use AVI2VCD to convert file to MPEG1. Join multiple MPEG files using MPEGJoiner or some other utility

Sound and picture quality has generally been quite poor, even when viewed on my PC. Sound is often not in sync with picture.

Process 2

Capture MPEG2 using ATI's Digital VCR. (The picture and sound quality at this stage is great! But the file size is 6 times the size of what an MPEG1 file would be.) Edit with Ulead Video Studio 4.0 and save as AVI file. (Do not use Ulead VS 4.0 to save as MPEG1 file - file will not be VCD compliant.) Use VirtualDub to deinterlace and resize video. Use AVI2VCD to convert to MPEG1.

Sound quality is quite good. Picture quality is acceptable, but could be better.

FYI - Check out www.buy.com for specials and coupons. The retail price for the ATI AIW Raedon was $329 at Fry's. The retail price at Buy.com is $245, and they had a $30 coupon for orders over $150.

I get significant variations in the size of my output file (for the same clip) depending on the process that I use.

Good luck.

I would think that there should be some (free/cheap)utilities out there that would allow direct editing/trimming of MPEG2 files without having to convert the file to AVI or MPEG1 in between (I've seen a few expensive ones). Also, does anyone know if there is a MPEG2 to MPEG1 utility (that will also do deinterlace and resize?)

-- Curt Wvong (curt.wvong@poboxes.com), March 05, 2001.

One more thing.

A 45 minute TV episode (commercials edited out) will require approximately 2.8 gigs as an MPEG2 file.

I can get that down to a 466-500 M MPEG1 file (with noticable degradation in picture quality, but at least it will fit on a 650 M CD-R).

-- Curt Wvong (curt.wvong@poboxes.com), March 05, 2001.

Pls get rid of any ATI products, I am 100%sure it will trouble ur system one or another way... Sometimes with your scanner, videocamera etc.. ALL_IN_WONDER PRO 32MB is royaly screwing me for past 3 months . I lost my money ($199) and time.. Simply ATI products will not work...

-- Aji Paul (ajipaul@yahoo.com), June 18, 2001.

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