You can also capture still images, view the teletext and use the Channel Surf function, which helps you learn what is being broadcast over all the channels. The screenshot shows what it actually looks like:
Of course, the contents of each channel are not updated in real time; it is rather like a puzzle of still images, regularly updated. By double-clicking any of the stills, you switch to the corresponding channel.
The software supports the TV-On-Demand function that allows you to watch broadcasts with a delay. When this function is activated, the TV Player starts recording the TV program to the hard disk. You can return “into the past” later and watch any segment of the recorded program. The importance of TV-On-Demand is indisputable: you can leave your PC without missing a minute of your favorite TV show. ThruView Window and ThruView Desktop functions are fully supported as well as the so-called MULTIVIEW. If you have a second TV-tuner in your system (the ATI TV WONDER), you can watch two broadcasts simultaneously; the window of the second broadcast can be either in the first broadcast window (Picture-in-Picture, PiP) or outside it (Picture-outside-Picture, PoP).
The quality of the image as provided by the TV Player greatly depends on the quality of the TV signal in your area. In my case, although the program found every available TV channel, it didn’t give out a sharp picture: it was all noisy and grainy. It is also related to the noise pickups in the system case as well as to the relatively low sensitivity of the HF-tuner. On the other hand, this might have been the fault of the local cable TV network, if it did send an insufficiently powerful signal.
Some of the channels broadcast in the SECAM standard were recognized well, but the TV Player assigned the PAL standard for them. I had to change this setting manually.
As for the quality of sound, the audio section of the ALL-IN-WONDER 9600 Pro was very sensitive to external noises. The mouse moving, windows minimizing, HDD addressing – you could easily hear all of that in the moments of silence. Moreover, these noises were always present when the mixer had the line input enabled, where the sound from the combo-card was actually sent. I am afraid you will have to put up with it, since there are powerful noise sources nearby like the VPU, graphics memory and central processor.
The recording of broadcasts is implemented very simply in ATI’s TV Player: push the button with the camera icon to record and push it again to stop recording. The One Touch Record function allows you to define a time interval for the recording or set a time point when the recording should stop automatically.
The program can record the video stream from the composite S-Video input, not only from the TV-tuner. Moreover, you don’t have to use the software from ATI Technologies to record video from the external source. The WDM driver can work with any video-capture software. Well, you don’t have to go far for this program: the software bundle includes a nice video-editing suite aka CyberLink PowerDirector 2.5 ME. Tastes differ, of course, and you may prefer some other application as well.
The settings of the ATI TV Player are very rich; you can set up the recording quality and the parameters of each channel, select the video source and define the aspect ratio. Unfortunately, the program is not free from drawbacks. For example, you cannot fine-tune the frequency of each channel separately.
So, the summary sounds as follows: we’ve got a good program for watching TV channels, although not free from drawbacks like the inconvenient channel setup. The main positive feature of the ATI TV Player is undoubtedly its One Touch Record function which works correctly (unlike the iuVCR, for instance).