Digital and analog TV support in one card

ATI just announced a new hardware MPEG2 encoder chip after much success and praise of the previous ATI Theater 550 Pro. The new Theater 650 Pro is the first encoder capable of decoding analog and digital TV signals—ATSC and DVB-T. Digital TV tuners are typically only DVB compatible but ATI has managed to integrate DVB-T for Europeon users and ATSC for North American users.  The Theater 650 Pro supports hybrid tuners for analog and digital TV decoding on a single card.  ATI's press release claims the following:

With a 125-channel TV tuner, Theater 650 Pro features hardware MPEG2 encoding to offload intensive PVR functions from the main computer processor to deliver extremely competitive performance. As a highly integrated chip, Theater 650 Pro includes a 12-bit worldwide video decoder, digital TV support, worldwide audio decoder, MPEG encoder, 3:2 pull-down, motion compensated noise reduction, edge enhancement, FM radio reception, hardware DRM engine, PCI/PCI-Express 1X bridge, and much more.

A new Catalyst Media Center software suite will accompany new Theater 650 Pro cards and can record in various video formats including MPEG2, MPEG4, DivX, WMV9 and H.264. Third party software such as Cyberlink PowerCinema, Interview WinDVR and Home Theater, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, and SnapStream BeyondTV will all be supported by the Theater 650 Pro.

Manufacturers such as ASUS, MSI, Sapphire, PowerColor and VisionTek are expected to have Theater 650 Pro based products. PowerColor has a Theater 650 Pro based card on display at its Computex 2006 booth. The PowerColor Theater 650 Pro supports analog and digital TV signals for North American and Europeon users. Cards will be available in PCI and PCI Express interfaces.

Pricing and availability is unknown at the time but if previous Theater 550 Pro cards are to give a hint on pricing, expect Theater 650 Pro cards to cost around $100. PCIe and PCI versions of the card will be available.

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