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Two AMD TV Wonder DCTs (upper right) give the Velocity Micro CineMagix the first PCs with CableCARD support
The first batch of CableCARD-ready, high-end Media Center PCs is ready

Earlier this week Velocity Micro spread word that the company was approaching the final stages in readying the CableCARD-ready CineMagix Grand Theater and CineMagix Pro Cinema systems. 

At the Consumer Electronics Show last January, AMD took the veil off its Open Cable Unidirectional Receiver -- the TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner.   The TV Wonder DCT is the first of its kind, giving PCs the ability to tune NTSC, ATSC over-the-air, QAM encrypted ATSC and CableCARD support.

Velocity Micro will be the first PC vendor to bring the new TV Wonder DCT to the masses. The company is in the final stages of production and is already taking orders.

Unlike the original batches of ATI TV Wonder 650, Velocity claims the AMD TV Wonder DCT is stable and ready to go.  "The card itself seems to be a really solid product," said Velocity Micro Director of Product Development Chris Morley.  "The drivers are all inside Vista ... You can configure it as an over the air HD tuner; it will do analog, standard def."

Microsoft has already made it abundantly clear that CableCARD support is only for OEMs and system builders -- do not expect AMD OCUR cards to show up on eBay in the near future. Even with the hardware, systems require BIOS-level support and authentication; CableCARD PCs constantly ping CableLabs for authentication.

Drawing support from manufactures, Microsoft and AMD/ATI is no easy task either. Dell and HP demonstrated AMD TV Wonder Digital Cable PCs earlier this year, but corporate representatives from both companies stated these will likely be Q3 2007 products.

"Some of the traditional players in this space are looking to us to OEM these systems for them," said Morley. 

The focal point of the new CineMagix systems is the digital cable tuners, though the systems will also boast features not found on any other systems yet.  Blu-ray support for CineMagix systems is already available, but Velocity Micro is also the first system builder to include support for Vista's MCE plug-in support for PowerDVD.

Velocity's site claims its Intel-based Grand Theater systems will ship before mid-April followed shortly thereafter by the AMD-based Grand Theater systems.  AMD systems start at $1,795 and Intel systems start at $2,195.



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RE: So HD or no?
By Alphafox78 on 3/20/2007 3:28:39 PM , Rating: 2
There arent any tuners available for HD unless your talking about over the air HD. you cant get a HD tuner for cable, unless you get this cable card thing. there are no 'video in HD' ports you can get either. you can jerry rig a firewire port, but to my knowledge it is kind of a pain.

You can have the media pc controll the cable box, but again its just SD TV.


RE: So HD or no?
By jkresh on 3/20/2007 5:01:23 PM , Rating: 2
actually there are a bunch of hd QAM cards which can deal with non encrypted hd (ie most local channels and occasionally more depending on your cable provider). Also setting up through firewire is int that bad (but you don't get encrypted channels). Having run both a QAM card (dvico fusion 3) and running firewire from my motorolla dct6412 dvr I can say the quality is about the same and since there are ways to get firewire to run through media center (and QAM is not supported in media center (or at least was not last time I tried the fusion) i prefer firewire). The only major problem I see with firewire is at least with Optimum (and I believe comcast) the only cable box's they have with firewire are dvr's so you have to pay for the dvr service to use it with your pc (though the pc still gives the benefit of archival and significantly more storage).


RE: So HD or no?
By JCheng on 3/20/2007 5:30:00 PM , Rating: 2
The best way to do this is with HDHomeRun, I know a lot of people who use this and have been very happy with the results (relative to the other solutions, like using OTA or the firewire hack).


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