|Diamond All-In-Wonder HD Premium AIW5000|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Dan Ferguson|
|Sunday, 27 February 2011|
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Closer Look: Diamond HD750
When it comes to an HTPC or PVR setup, it's the TV Tuner that makes most of the magic happen. With video cards the choices are practically endless, and most products will deliver decent return on your investment. With the TV Tuner the variation in features and performance is much greater, and the selections are fewer. So it's more important to make sure you get a tuner that has the features you need. When building your own system knowing the resource demand is important for choosing the right CPU and memory while keeping costs minimal.
The TV Wonder HD750 is Diamond's newest release. While there is a USB version, the AIW5000 includes the PCIe version. The actual card is small enough to fit in any PC case, but the mount bracket is for full-height mounting. The layout is quite simple relying on only a handful of chips. For any given technology, the board layout is often a good indicator of the feature set.
There are only two ports, one digital andone analog. There is only one visible tuner, and no visible encoders. As you could guess, this is a single tuner card which can decode digital signals and record analog inputs from S-Video, composite, and stereo.The lack of encoders also means that any encoding work will be software based. Software-based encoding or transcoding is CPU intensive unless you have software and hardware which can distribute the load across the GPU as well.
The HD750 has three ports. One F-Type coaxial port, one S-Video port and a micro-jack for the IR reciever. If you want to pipe multiple signals into the tuner then you'll need to daisy-chain your devices or use a switching device. For me this is a can of worms that I'll open during my final thoughts.
To make TV watching and recording easier the HD750 includes a kit of peripheral. A remote is included with the IR receiver so you can watch from a couch without requiring a wireless mouse and keyboard. Digital tuners are still slower than their analog counterparts when it comes to changing channels. I've grown accustomed to the extra delay while switching channels on set-top tuners. But using the remote with this PC tuner was more than I could bear. I had to hold down the button "forever" until I saw the screen change. But if I held it for even a split second too long then I'd end up changing two channels instead of one.
Also included with the kit is an adapter cable for the S-Video port which allows S-Video, composite and stereo inputs. A metal adapter for the coaxial port converts it from unthreaded F-Type to threaded.Finally there is a small antenna whilch plugs into the coaxial port for receiving radio and TV signals. While the antenna is a nice thought, it only worked for the strongest signals.