ATI X600 Pro All-in-Wonder
Tour-de-force or tour-de-farce?
For me, one of the most useful additions to the software is the ability to capture to MPEG 4. The multimedia player can now handle RealMedia, Microsoft Windows Media Video 9 and DivX content too. These are just some of the many functions available from the current software suite - visit ATI's website for the full, extensive list.
Setting up the software generally goes one of two ways. It either goes off like a dream first time, or it takes a wrong turn and leaves you in a mess that's far from easy to dig your way out of. Admittedly there are a lot of components to install with an All-In-Wonder card but smart software should come with smart installation, and when ATI's installation goes wrong, it's anything but smart.
This aside, my only other major gripe, apart from the dated feel, was the excruciating length of time it seems to take for the TV app to perform an exhaustive channel search. My advice is perform the quick search first and if, as in my case, channels go undetected, then activate the exhaustive search and go and grab a coffee, a sandwich, make a few phone calls and snatch forty winks. When you get back it might have finished.
Like most PC-based TV tuners, reception sensitivity was some way below what you'd experience from a regular TV. I also noticed that the tuner got quite warm over time.
As a final note, many PC users now have a machine in the bedroom so perhaps it's time we saw the software offer an integral sleep timer, a TV or radio alarm function and perhaps even a mood-light.
Compared to its All-In-Wonder brethren based on the newer Theater 550 chip, the X600 Pro's analog TV image quality definitely doesn't pass muster. This combined with the slightly sluggish and dated-looking software creates a strangely 'old technology' feel to the whole package.
ATI doesn't seem to have done anything to iron out its software installation difficulties either, and it remains unnecessarily complex if things don't go as they should at the first attempt, something that seems to depend as much on platform, existing drivers and current software on your system as it does on you having read the manual and knowing what you're doing.
There's much to like about the hardware, particularly the new cable connection system, but the software doesn't do it justice.
With little to offer in terms of 3D gaming - it achieved 23fps in Doom 3 and 33fps in Far Cry at 1024 x 768, and a generally lacklustre multimedia showing, it's hard to get excited about the All-In-Wonder X600 Pro on any level. I'm sure better value and better-balanced cards are not far away and I'd be tempted to bide my time until they appear.
Ultimately you need to decide if you can get better functionality from a separate graphics card and TV tuner card for the same price. If so then that's the route I'd take personally, just so they can be binned and upgraded independently. If not, then the All-in-Wonder X600 Pro may be worth considering, although check the bundle carefully before you buy if you want the Remote Wonder.
|ATI X600 Pro All-in-Wonder|
|More info||The ATI AiW X660 Pro site|
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