|Diamond All-In-Wonder HD Premium AIW5000|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Dan Ferguson|
|Sunday, 27 February 2011|
Page 13 of 13
TV-Tuner Card Final Thoughts
Multipurpose...I believe that is the word that best describes the appeal of the All-In-Wonder products. My computers are so powerful that I often have a difficult time buying other pieces of hardware around the house. I balk anytime I consider buying something dedicated for a single purpose, especially when it is for something my computer could do instead. DVD players are a classic example. I hate buying set-top players that die every 5 or so years when I have a perfectly good DVD drive on my PC that's been working for longer. It bugs me more when I have 50 different boxes in my entertainment center, each with its own power cord and connecting cables. Can't I just squeeze them all into onemaster device that allows me to use a single power cable and swap out modules as needed?
That's exactly what I love about PC's. Add the tuner card and I've eliminated one more box. The AIW5000 works well enough that it could be an upgrade for your video card in addition to adding the tuner capability. Plus you can game with it. I was able to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and BattleField: Bad Company 2 at decent framerates. There were times at high resolutions when I would get some video lag, but it was defiitely playable and I won the match.
Gaming and multimedia are the more demanding tasks, the other routine stuff will be a breeze with this setup. While the AIW5000 is geared for an HTPC, there's no reason it can't be expanded to include other functions.
Regarding hardware expansions, it would be nice if the tuner card could be expanded to include other functions, like a mini receiver. Or on an even smaller basis allow multipl inputs for HDMI, composite, etc. perhaps even with a switching functionality. If I have multiple devices that I want to connect through the PC I either have to daisy chain them or use an external switching device or reciever. Using a nice external piece of hardware kind of defeats the purpose of having a tuner in the PC. I'll just opt for a video card with video-in.
I was slightly disappointed with my test results. I had hoped for better performance particularyl from the video card. It did fine, but I felt it could have done better. If power draw and temperatures were large factors in my purchase decision I would consider going for a more powerful card from a previous generation or a power-saving, budget model from the current generation.
Diamond AIW5000 Conclusion
When it comes to finding stations and getting a crystal clear signal, the HD750 was bounds ahead of other cards tested. That is probably the single most important reason someone would opt for the AIW5000 over other options. This is especially important if your computer will be moving from place to place and picking up different signals. But this benefit comes at the cost of computer resources. The default package of hardware and software demanded a larger amount of CPU resources than expected. A decent CPU will be required to run it out of the box. But performance could be improved by upgrading the drivers and trying different media software. The HD5570 performed on par with ATI's factory version but produced more heat and drew more power. Neither issue was so drastic as to warrent scrapping the cards, but it will be an important factor in considering other alternatives.
There's not much that can be said regarding the appearance of two normal PCI cards. Their colors don't match which is kind of tacky. But these cards are meant for utility, not a flashy gaming setup. So their look is apt for their purpose.
The main drawback of these cards is the full-height case requirement. The AIW5000 is perfect for an HTPC but Diamond built the HD5570 on a full-height board so it won't fit in the smaller cases. Often a dual-slot video-card overshadows a PCIe port rendering it useless. Both cards only utilize a single slot which will help them fit into cases where the horizontal space is cramped.
There are so meany features provided by this package it's impossible to discuss them all without writing a true book. The tuner probably has the fewest features compared to other competing products. It's only a single tuner capable of decoding the most common signal. It has no on-board encoding ability and depends entirely on software for encoding and transcoding. Thus you need to pay greater attention to software choice. A fully licensed version of TotalMedia 3.5 is included in the package and it works well for TV watching and recording. It includes basic to moderate feature like scheduling, radio, video editing, and DVD / CD burning. There's a light video export module, but it's nothing close to full-powered transcoding. Power users will want to look for more advanced software. Finally, the HD5570 has the features of DirectX 11.
For a little over one hundred dollars you get a TV tuner, a full-featured DX-11 video card, and fully licensed PVR software. That's a killer deal any day. Look for the AIW500 at Amazon for $129.99. You could probably save some money by swapping out any or all of the package for cheaper alternatives, but the basic build is solid, gauranteed to be compatible, and provide all the basic features. From box to watching TV was about 15 minutes for me.
+ Fast Installation
- Single Tuner
Final Score: 8.00 out of 10.
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