ATI TV Wonder USB 2.0

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ATI TV Wonder USB 2.0

Pros

  • Easy to install and set up, timeshifting works well, good performance, quality remote available

Cons

  • Overly designed control panel, remote costs extra

Bottom Line

Impressive features for a reasonable price make this USB tuner a top solution for putting TV on your PC.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 9 stores)

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The ATI TV Wonder USB 2.0 delivers good performance and provides a host of features that make watching and recording television on a PC almost as trouble-free as doing so with a PVR.

The software, simply called TV, has a control panel that looks like something out of an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise; slick to the point that we mistook the unwieldy volume control as a decorative flourish. Though the control panel takes up more room than it needs to, it's easy to hide.

Readily accessible closed-caption and parental-lock features are nice touches, as is a jog/shuttle control for time-shifted video. You can vary the speed of the rewind and fast-forward functions, too. Right-clicking many of the buttons produces menus of more-advanced options.

ATI has paid a lot of attention to detail: when recording the tuner automatically plucks extra information such as the channel name and program title from the TV signal.

Though no remote control is included, ATI's Remote Wonder is available separately and it's worth the extra money. Because it communicates with its receiver via radio frequency, the Remote Wonder doesn't have to be in line of sight with its receiver as infrared remotes do. This increases the distance from which you can send commands (we were able to change channels from another room). The remote comes with ATI's EazyLook software, which defaults to full-screen viewing and adds enough polish to the TV and timeshifting features to make you forget you're not watching a real TV set.

The TV Wonder performed well on tasks where a couple of other tuners we have tested stumbled. Most notably, when we timeshifted video at high-quality settings, the image quality did not degrade.

Other than a four-step diagram printed on the back of the box, ATI supplies no printed documentation--but you won't need it. The small, lightweight device is easy to install, and you'll be up and running in no time. The TV Wonder USB 2.0 lacks extras found in some other products, such as an FM tuner or software for editing video and burning DVDs, but it performs its core functions so well that it's still great value.

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