To help clean up the picture, the software uses some of the card’s pixel shaders. Videosoap, as it’s called, applies filters to help improve the picture quality. When adjusting the picture with Videosoap, you can view the original and cleaned up image to compare out it looks with the included side by side preview option. Use the option for both cable TV and on your recorded videos to generate a better picture. While it won’t help all, it will improve some video and give you a better picture. I’ve been pretty happy with how Videosoap worked on a few of my channels that I don’t get a good reception with.
ATI has included the Remote Wonder II with the bundle and I’ve had experience with the remote. It’s a solid remote and one that has the ability to use an IR blaster that connects to the base when the support for the function is released. Until then, it’s still a good RF remote that has a good layout and feel. The receiver unit is rather large though and takes up a good amount of room and receives signals at a 433MHz band. The range that the remote is rated at is 60 feet but I only reached around ¾ of that distance before it became inconsistent. That’s still a good distance away and you might get better range depending on your environment. I did get the remote to work through a wall though so I could hide the computer and receiver out of sight and still be able to operate the multimedia functions. This could provide a nice clean environment for your multimedia room as you can have everything hidden away and still work the system with the Remote Wonder II.
Given the increasing number of TV optimized front ends and PVR programs, ATI has developed their own GUI titled EAZYLOOK. EAZYLOOK does help make the application more user-friendly when using it with a TV. The large friendly icons provide an easy recognizable interface when using MMC. EAZYLOOK does offer an improved interface over the more PC oriented look of MMC and one that is great to use if you plan on using this card strictly for a home theater PC setup.
Combine the remote with EAZYLOOK and you’ll have close to an interface that mimics BeyondTV or Windows XP Media Center 2005. You can easily shuffle through the various MMC functions with the remote and the different skin colors give you some diversity.
Watching TV with the All-in-Wonder X800 XL worked out really well and offered similar experience as the last All-in-Wonder card I tested. Picture quality, while not in the TV Wonder Elite range, was still pretty good. I spent numerous hours watching, pausing, and rewinding live TV along with recording various shows in various formats. The card held up without any problems and provided me with a solid experience. You won’t be able to use a console to play games on your computer as there’s a slight delay with the picture signal. Other than that minor quibble, the All-in-Wonder X800 XL’s TV functionality worked like a charm. Below you can see a graph of my CPU usage and it's hovering around 35-40% most of the time.
The other functions such as the DVD player, file player, and CD player round out a fully functional suite of multimedia applications that worked well. I didn’t have any problems with my CDs or DVDs that I put through the testing phase. DVD quality was good as well. The FM function offered radio with many of the time shifting functions as well as recording capabilities. If you are using Windows XP Media Center 2005, the FM reception will also work with Window's program as well giving you radio capabilties.
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