Diamond ATI TV Wonder 750 USB Review

jlqrb - 2010-02-21 17:50:20 in Digital Photography/Video
Category: Digital Photography/Video
Reviewed by: jlqrb   
Reviewed on: March 14, 2010
Price: $54.99

Introduction:

Over the last few years, TV over the Internet has started to get more and more support. If you want to watch a movie, you can stream it straight from your Netflix account. If you missed your favorite TV show, you can watch it on a website such as Hulu. These sites have made the Internet a much larger source of the multimedia experience, but both Netflix and Hulu have limitations. With Netflix, not all movies are available to stream and with Hulu have to you watch advertisements during the show. There is, however, another way to get TV on your PC and it comes in the form of the Diamond ATI TV Wonder 750 USB. This product is a small, portable, multimedia device that will let you watch live, over-the-air TV and analog cable from your desktop or laptop. It also has the ability to sync up with an external source, such as a camcorder or gaming system, which can help integrate your media into one place, as opposed to having it run across multiple sources. The TV Wonder 750 comes ready for use right out of the box and includes everything you will need to get it setup for TV at home or on the go.

Closer Look:

The Diamond ATI TV Wonder comes packaged in a red and black box with a cut-out on the front that showcases the TVW HD 750. The front of the packaging also consist of an image of the TV Wonder being used with a laptop (highlighting the tuner's portability), with the name of the product and a brief description about the functions found under the laptop. Turning the packaging around, you can see the back panel gives a more in-depth explanation of the functionality of the tuner, as well as a list of the included accessories. This outer portion of the packaging is mainly used to show off the functions of the product while sitting on a store shelf, while the tuner and accessories are actually secured in a clamshell casing on the inner portion of the box. This inner packaging is clear and, other than the reflective insert, gives a good view of what is housed within.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the tuner, you can see that it is not excessively large and is roughly the same size as a USB flash drive. This small size will help with portability, as the tuner will easily fit in a laptop bag, or even your pocket. The top portion of the drive is a protective cap that shields the USB plug from damage when not in use. When this cap is removed, the drive can be placed directly into a USB port, or a USB extension cable can be used if needed. On the opposite end of the USB header, you have an open port that can be used to directly plug in the HD antenna or a Coax RF adapter. The last port on the TVW HD 750 is found on the side of the Tuner and is where the AV cables will be inserted.

 

 

 

The Diamond ATI TV Wonder 750 USB comes with a host of accessories that help the tuner function. What's included is a HD antenna, AV cable, Coax RF adapter, remote control, manual, and installation disk. The included HD antenna comes with two mounting tools, that will help seucre it in place. One is a suction cup, which makes it easy to place on a window or desk, and the other is a clip, which will let you secure the antenna to an LCD monitor or something with a thin area that it can slide onto.

 

 

Installation:

Hardware Installation:

 

Installation of the Diamond ATI TV Wonder 750 USB is very simple. The TV Wonder tuner is placed into an open USB slot and, once in, you choose the function you want to use with it. To watch over-the-air HDTV and DTV, you insert the included HDTV antenna into the top port of the tuner and find a good spot for the antenna. If you need to place the antenna further from your PC than the cable will allow, you can use the USB extension cable, which will add about another foot of cable. To watch analog cable on your PC, you will need to use the coax RF adapter and insert your cable connection into the adapter. Another function the TV Wonder 750 allows is being able to connect to a device such as a game system or DVD player that uses RCA outputs. To connect the tuner to these devices, you will need to use the RCA/S Video dongle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Software Installation:

 

The included installation disk, like most, autoruns when inserted into a DVD drive. The main menu screen for the device looks a lot like the packaging it comes in and has a few options. These options are Install Driver, Install Software, Utility, and Exit.

 

The Install Drivers tab will start the installation process that will install what is need for the TV Wonder to properly function. When the installation starts, you will be prompted a few times to continue and after the selections are made the tuner will be set up and ready to go.

 

 

 

Next you will need to insatll TotalMedia, which is found under the Install Software tab. To install this program, you will need to use the key found on the CD sleeve of the drivers disk, and once you input the key an auto-install will start, which takes a few minutes to complete.

 

 

Configuration:

TotalMedia Configuration

Now that we have all the drivers installed and the TV tuner set up, we can start to configure everything from within TotalMedia. The first screen gives you the options TV, Picture, Radio, Video, To Go, and Setup. Since this is our first time in TotalMedia, most of these options will not work, so we need to run the setup process. Once you have started the setup process, you will be asked a few questions, such as what country you are using the device in, what video device you would like to setup, and your TV signal. After these selections have been made, you can start an auto-scan for the channels the tuner can pick up. Since the TV Wonder has dual tuners, you can setup the second tuner as well. For this process, I used only the HDTV antenna and during the auto channel search, it found 11 over-the-air channels with one of them being HD. After you have found the available channels, you will need to choose you audio device and an online program guide, if you want to connect to one. After the guide option, you are done and ready to start watching TV on your PC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This setup, though it took a lot of steps, is very simple and really only takes a few minutes to complete.

Specifications:

Interface
USB 2.0 Interface
 
 
Compatibility
ATSC (over-the-air HDTV up to 1080i, SDTV)
 
NTSC (analog cable, TV, UHF & VHF)
Antenna Input
F-Type coax connector for Analog TV (NTSC) or HDTV (ATSC)
 
Video/Audio
S-Video input with adapter
Stereo audio input with adapter
Composite Video input with adapter

 

Features:


 

All information courtesy of Diamond Multimedia @ http://www.diamondmm.com/TVW750USB.php

Testing:

To test the Diamond ATI TV Wonder 750 USB, I will be judging it based its functions, image quailty, and ease of use.

 

Testing Setup:

 

 

Functionality

The functions you will find in the TotalMedia application are the usual Media Center options, such as a TV guide, an option to set a schedule to record a TV program, the option to watch a TV program, and a few portable options. The TV Guide will allow you to see what is currently on the available channels and give you the option to set the listing as a favorite, record it, or watch it. Recording a program is extremely easy and from within the menu, you can set a time and channel to record. After the program is recorded, it will be viewable in the Record TV menu, which will list your recordings, making them easy to access. TotalMedia also comes with the ability to sync up with portable devices to transfer files and will work with iPod video, Sony PSP, Windows Mobile Devices, Creative Zen Vision Zen, and a SanDisk Sansa e200. Other functions that are available are the ability to view photos, listen to the radio, and watch videos.

 

 

 

 

 

Picture Quality

The HDTV quality from the TV Wonder is absolutely phenomenal, easily matching the HD content I watch though my cable receiver. The standard video is also very decent, but it does have some grain.

 

HD Video

 

SD Video

 

For the analog picture quality, I had a previous review to pull from, so I could get a good idea of how the image looks compared to other models. For the most part, the image from the Diamond ATI TV Wonder was clear, with only a minimal amount of grain. This made the quality much higher than the noisy image from the XtremeTV HD and slightly better than the Theater 550.

  

Diamond ATI TV Wonder 750 USB

 

XtremeTV HDTV 110 Analog

 

Theater 550 PCI-e Analog

 

 

AV cable Use:

The included AV dongle will let you connect the tuner to an alternative source, such as a DVD player, Camcorder, Video game system, or just about any source with a RCA output. There is also a S-Video connector on the dongle, which, when used, will improve the image quality. This feature can be used to watch videos or record yourself fragging your friends. To show off this function, you get to watch Little Mac put a beat down on poor Van Kaiser!

 

 

CPU Usage:

 

The Diamond ATI TV Wonder 750 CPU usage was minimal in both High Definition and Standard Definition. For HD content, the CPU usage was around 11% and at times would peak close to 20%. While recording the video using the dongle, the CPU usage was again low, staying under 10%. Also, when taking into account any running background programs, it is impressive to see such low CPU usage.

Conclusion

For such a small product, the Diamond ATI TV Wonder 750 USB manages to do a lot. It has outstanding over-the-air image quality, with absolutely amazing looking high definition signals. The small size of the unit makes it easily carried in a laptop case, and with support for broadcasting signals all over the world, it is perfect for downtime on business or personal trips. The analog cable image is also very clear, managing to look better than the comparison tuners, and with the included TotalMedia, you have an ultimate media center that will let you watch, rewind, and record live television. The tuner can also be used to watch or record from alternative sources such as a DVD player or gaming system. Recording from a gaming console was very easy to do and, once it is recorded, you can upload the videos to YouTube to show off your gaming skills to the world. All these functions make it a very versatile product that goes beyond just watching TV on your PC.

Even though the tuner did have outstanding image quality and functions, I found some issues with its ease of use. The first of these issues was that the HD antenna was, for me, almost impossible to setup to receive a good signal, even with the included USB extension cable. At first, I could not stretch the antenna cable to a location that would pick up more than a few over-the-air channels. In the end, I had to use not just the included USB extender, but two other extenders that I had lying around. This added more length of the cable, which allowed me to get it to a windowed area that did have a decent signal. This might just be the area I live in, but as I am only fifteen minutes from a metropolitan area, I thought I would get a better signal. The next issue I ran into was with the remote. I found it to just be too weak to be a real benefit. I had to have the remote pointed right at the tuner for it to register and the further away I got from the tuner, the weaker the remote signal seemed to be. This could be a real issue for people trying to use this in a HTPC and want to hide the TV Wonder tuner and cables out of sight. Another issue was that after the antenna auto-scan finished, it showed that I had eleven channels available, but only about seven of the eleven had a viewable image with sound.

In all, the Diamond ATI TV Wonder 750 USB is packed with tons of functions, is portable, and has some of the best image quality I have seen from a PC tuner. If you have made it this far into the review, you are most likely seriously considering buying a product such as the Diamond TV Wonder 750 USB and if that is the case, I would say even with its issues, it is worth the mere $50 asking price.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: