Print 25 comment(s) - last by The Boston Dan.. on Jan 9 at 9:11 AM

Internal TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner

External TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner
CableCard ready for OEMs only

AMD today announced the worlds first CableCard compatible TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner. The AMD TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner is fully certified by CableLabs and compliant with the OCUR, or Open Cable Unidirectional Receiver standard. This product will only be available to OEMs, as Microsoft’s Windows Vista will only support CableCard tuners in pre-built systems.

While Microsoft has placed strict regulations on CableCard equipped systems, it will not hinder Media Center Extender capabilities. AMD claims:
With the new ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner, consumers can watch live or record high-definition broadcasts to preserve in a video library or stream to their Xbox 360™, if permitted by the content provider. Powered by AMD Avivo™ image technology, consumers get outstanding picture quality and smooth playback of their premium HD digital cable TV content on their media center PC, beyond basic cable channels, traditional analog TV and free over-the-air HD channels.
The TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner will tune into most broadcast sources including NTSC, ATSC over-the-air and QAM encrypted ATSC. AMD’s Theater 550 Pro decoder that is also found on AMD’s TV Wonder Elite delivers analog tuning capabilities. An AMD NXT2003 decoder takes care of ATSC tuning. While the TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner will tune into regular cable broadcast and over-the-air antenna signals users are required to contact their cable company to obtain a CableCard for premium channels such as HBO.

AMD will provide three versions of the TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner -- external, PCI and PCIe. All three models interface with the system via USB 2.0 though. External models connect using standard USB 2.0 interface and require power from its own power supply. PCI and PCIe models only use the physical slot for retention purposes and require power through a floppy-drive power connector. The internal interface is still USB 2.0 on PCI and PCIe models.

Expect the TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner to be available in OEM systems when Windows Vista ships on January 30th, 2007.

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permission granted
By codeThug on 1/8/2007 10:42:32 AM , Rating: 2
if permitted by the content provider

or suitable software crack installed...

RE: permission granted
By Lazarus Dark on 1/8/2007 10:58:13 AM , Rating: 4
they already put broadcast flags on nearly every channel including friggin local channels, which should never be flagged! I'm sure even with this, it will be severely restricted, I'd be surprised if you could stream anything much and I'd be very surprised if you could record premium channels on your media center pc.

quite frankly, after years of consumer abuse, monopolistic practices and slow adoption of new technology I am sick of cableco's. And this BS with no cablecard on vista without buying a whole new comp is the last straw. As soon as any company offers high speed internet, IPTV and cell service in my area I am dropping cable for good. Unfortunately, its a necessary evil right now as they are the only ones in my area with more than 500k download speed (woohoo, a whopping 2mbps that never really goes above 1mbps). I look forward to the day I can drop for good time warner/comcast/whatever they're calling themselves this week.

RE: permission granted
By Hulk on 1/8/2007 11:27:39 AM , Rating: 2

RE: permission granted
By Chadder007 on 1/8/2007 11:47:35 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Im tired of this crap too from Comcast.

RE: permission granted
By FITCamaro on 1/8/2007 1:05:39 PM , Rating: 2
Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the US Supreme Court make broadcast flags illegal and thus ban them? I remember when everyone was screaming to go buy a TV Tuner card before they started coming out with the broadcast flag enabled but then the Supreme Court overruled the decision.

Ultimately if you can see it, you can record it. The decryption is handled through the cable box. Once its output to the TV, they can't control what you do with it. Same for TV Tuners.

RE: permission granted
By on 1/8/2007 1:46:21 PM , Rating: 2
Technically it was a federal appeals court, and what they actually ruled was that he FCC had no authority to force electonics makers to obey broadcast flags for Over-The-Air receivers in the public airwaves. The verdict was that the FCC can't control the electronics companies.

In the end, this has no effect for digital cable subscribers whom don't get similar protection, since cableTV is subscription and not considered "broadcast". CableTV is still very heavily subject to CableLabs certification, which itself is made up of a coalition of the -- you guessed it -- cable operators.

RE: permission granted
By mrgq912 on 1/8/2007 2:14:56 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft is offering IPTV via Xbox live on the 360. It will start in winter 2007.

Microsoft is one large enigma.

RE: permission granted
By phusg on 1/8/2007 4:48:45 PM , Rating: 2
Don't know about the enigma, it seems that they are doing everything with their power to keep premium streaming content off the HTPC and forcing people to buy an XBox. Must keep the content providers happier.

RE: permission granted
By MonkeyPaw on 1/8/2007 6:06:32 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget the NFL network and the new Thanksgiving day tradition of bringing us a game that almost no one gets to watch. Communication companies and content providers really don't get it sometimes. Of course, it's probably getting harder to push 21st century signals through 20th century infrastructure.

Do the expect this thing to succeed???
By Symbyant on 1/8/2007 11:55:43 AM , Rating: 2
Seriously! like 95% of the market that actually care about something like this arent going to go to compusa or bestbuy and buy a computer. Theyre going to want to build their own HTPC. With cable companies making decisions to restrict devices like this to OEMs only, its no wonder that they are having so many problems making money. If theyd just accept the times and alter their business model to support technology rather than cripple it, they may actually have a successful product on their hands. Anyways, I think Verizons FIOS and maybe even AT&Ts Uverse will beat out digital cable in the coming years because of crap like this. And yes, this is still only Cable Card 1.0 so whats the point? Cable Card 1.0 has already flopped.

RE: Do the expect this thing to succeed???
By sotti on 1/8/2007 12:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
Cable Card 1.0 + a media center is a different story, because you can still have a fully interactive guide.

That's what kills cable card 1.0 on the TV. The only thing you'll be giving up with this is on-demand.

By Symbyant on 1/8/2007 1:01:27 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, but the problem is that I built a good HTPC with DVR functionality myself and would love to bring in a digital source other than ATSC broadcasts to MY computer. Not some OEM peiece of crap. The Cable Card 1.0 comments were just my 2 cents on a standard that's on it's last leg (if it even had one to begin with) and was not the focus of my post.

Crippled all around...
By Comdrpopnfresh on 1/8/2007 12:29:42 PM , Rating: 2
I realize much of what I have to say has already been said above. But its only cablecard 1.0, and OEM ONLY. I'm pissed that the tuners of now cannot be used in vista computers, and I plan on not upgrading to vista until they allow tuners like my pci-e 550's to be put in. As impressed with the 550 as I am, it lacks realworld features. First of all, no one has been able to solve the delay in channel changing, and as fas as I know (I use MCE instead of bundled software), there is no way to view many channels at once to see if its an episode you've viewed already. Also- you'd think after years of the 550 being out, they'd have come up with something else. I think it is quite apparent that they just threw technologies they had, and others in half-development, into one card to get their name on one of those shiny stickers next to vista's on computers sold in CC, BB, and CUSA. They mention how analog is covered with the 550, i believe they were actively trying to add QAM to the 550, and there may have been work with cable card. But slapping it all together is not the best way to go.
Also- this thing is usb2.0 interfaced. I'm pretty sure the quality of external tuners has always been below that of internal- is it because of the interface? Also, with vista having this readyboost with usb flash drives and (correct me if i'm wrong) a usb bus sharing bandwidth- will this card get the whole 480mbps to itself?
And- if they must make it usb2.0, why not change the power connect. Floppy? I don't know too many PSU's rushing to place multiple floppy power connectors. If its sitting on the pci or pci-e, the least it can to is take the power that way, rather than simply use the slot for "retention perposes" aka- dead weight space.

RE: Crippled all around...
By sotti on 1/8/2007 12:45:59 PM , Rating: 2
ATI 550 works just fine in vista, every card that worked in MCE2005, provides exactly the same functionality in Vista.

As far as bandwidth is concerned DVD quality SD is 9mbps and HDTV is 19mbps, so USB 2.0 is complete overkill as far as bandwidth is concerned.

RE: Crippled all around...
By Motley on 1/8/2007 1:04:46 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously this thing was rushed to market. They should have made the PCI/PCIe versions just incorporate their own USB 2.0 hub on the card (requiring no USB connections from the card to a USB port), and grabbed the power from the slot. Early (cheap) external tuners did not have a built-in MPEG/MPEG2/MPEG4 encoder, and needed an insane amount of bandwidth to transfer the data (or much reduced quality). Bandwidth won't be an issue from cable companies because all the channels are pre-MPEG2'ed which drastically lowers the amount of bandwidth needed. The bandwidth needed varies from channel to channel from 9Mbps to I believe near 30Mbs, which is still well under the 480Mbs USB 2.0 can deliver.

Be patient
By Shark Tek on 1/8/2007 1:58:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure that in a future not far away this is going to be available for custom builders. Just wait a little longer.

RE: Be patient
By sdsdv10 on 1/8/2007 7:44:19 PM , Rating: 2
Unlikely... Cable Labs (as noted above, the cable operators) doesn't manufacture electronic equipment so they lose nothing if this flops. However, if they lose control of their content and content providers, they lose everything.

They are out of control...
By Hulk on 1/8/2007 2:31:51 PM , Rating: 2
It seems to me that any content that is provided free in over-the-air broadcasts should also be available free through your cable feed.

But, as usual, if the cable companies can make money off of it they will. Right now I think one of the largest monopolies out there is cable TV/Internet. Since there is virtually no competition they do what they want. I don't want to deal with satellite and a box for every set in my house. Plus I still need high speed internet access and DSL isn't available in my area.

By The Boston Dangler on 1/9/2007 9:11:56 AM , Rating: 2
"It seems to me that any content that is provided free in over-the-air broadcasts should also be available free through your cable feed"

Local broadcast channels are included in the most basic of any sevice package. If you want free, get out the rabbit ears.

"But, as usual, if the cable companies can make money off of it they will."

Damn them and their efforts to run a successful business. Cars, computers and pizza should be given away too.

"Right now I think one of the largest monopolies out there is cable TV/Internet. Since there is virtually no competition they do what they want."

It's called The Telecommunications Act of 1996, and it says anybody can offer telecom services to anybody, at any time.

"I don't want to deal with satellite and a box for every set in my house."

So you say there's no competition, then mention a competitor. And what are you "dealing" with?

Am I correct in guessing you live out in the middle of nowhere?

So what...
By tfk11 on 1/8/2007 2:45:41 PM , Rating: 3
Without anything even half decent to watch on cable, who really cares if you can record or not.

Already Obsolete
By Slaimus on 1/8/2007 10:52:45 AM , Rating: 2
This is cableCARD 1.0 (no upstream, only downstream), so it is already obsolete. CableCARD did not take off on regular cable boxes/TVs because the lack of upstream support.

Everyone is waiting for cableCARD 2.0 now.

By Polynikes on 1/8/2007 10:54:00 AM , Rating: 2
AMD will provide three versions of the TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner -- external, PCI and PCIe. All three models interface with the system via USB 2.0 though.

That first sentence got my hopes up. Someone finally made a useful PCIe card besides a graphics card? Oh, wait, no...

By Brainonska511 on 1/8/2007 12:22:24 PM , Rating: 2
I was thinking, this is great news, finally a card that can support digital cable in a computer. But of course, MS pandering to the big companies and not the consumer only supporting this on OEM systems. WTF. I don't want to some crappy OEM HTPC, I would want to build my own machine. Ugh....

Single Tuner only?
By walk2k on 1/8/2007 3:11:01 PM , Rating: 2
Finally these are out. I can't wait to get one and ditch the shitty Comcast DVR.

But.. only 1 tuner? Feh. Have to wait for the 2-tuner cards (and support for multistream CC ideally too).

By cplusplus on 1/8/2007 8:05:17 PM , Rating: 2
Since we've known for months now that CableCard was only going to be allowed on pre-built systems, that part is not much of a surprise. What is upsetting me at the moment is that when I was looking around a few days ago, I could not find any online store with the Theater 650 or HD Wonder in stock. Which means that this will be the only available ATI/AMD card that supports recording HD content on a PC. But it won't be available for personal system builders. Just perfect.

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