|Diamond All-In-Wonder HD Premium AIW5000|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Dan Ferguson|
|Sunday, 27 February 2011|
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Diamond AIW5000 Software
Bundled up with the HD5570 and HD750 was a full version of TotalMedia 3.5 by Arcsoft. This provides an out-of-the box alternative to Windows 7 Media Center. I tested the AIW5000 with Windows 7 Media Center, and installation was quick and flawless. I scrapped the dinky antenna that came in the box for a middle-range unit from a local store. Within ten minutes I was recording TV froma full list of local broadcast channels.
After Installing TotalMedia 3.5 It took only slightly longer to get to watching and recording live television. The main difference in setup was finding local channels. Windows 7 MediaCenter downloads them as a first option, while TotalMedia prefers to scan the local channels. This can be a real annoyance if you have only a moderate signal on some channels. Where I live the signals for some of our favorite channels is rather weak, even with a strong antenna. Running a channel scan in TotalMedia is an "all or nothing" affair. You can't just run a scan with the antenna in a different position to pick up the ones you missed. It always overwrites the old channels with the most recent scan. Trying to manually add a channel is an exercise in frustration. It's really not worth the time.
Despite this drawback, the HD750 performed wuite well; it exceeded my expectations. Using the same antenna it found more chanels than my set-top tuner. I swapped out the HD750 for my ASUS PHC3-150 and ran the exact same scan with the exact same setup. It found only a handful of channels which displayed less than half the time. I was really, really impressed with the HD750 signal decoding. The EPG function is TotalMedia was a flop. It was more work to fenagle a schedule out of TotalMedia than to just look it up on my computer. I hope they improve this feature. Specifically, when using the internet feature it was impossible to update the schedule to reflect my local broadcast.
Well, I'm not big on watching live TV. I'llrecord or watch online whenever possible. The recording feature in TotalMedia was straight forward to use and hassle free. The scheduling worked well and allowed me to add multiple scheduled recordings. It takes a little time to setup with the remote, but using a mouse made thing really quick. The scheduling module allows you to setup a one-time record or to schedule a repeating show. It wasn't smart enough to do anything fancy like find similar shows or even the same show at different times. Also, with only a single tuner you can only record one show at a time. This also means you can only watch what you're recording or have already recorded.
The HD750 receives FM radio along with a glut of other signals. Just like the TV module you can scan for channels, listen to live radio and record. I was able to get most of my normal radio stations, but some of the weaker ones didn't get picked up. I again swapped in my PHC3-150 for comparison, and it didn't pick up any stations. Again, I'm impressed by the reception from the AIW5000.
Once you've recorded a video, what can you do with it? Well, you can watch it, edit it, burn it to disk, or export it to a mobile device. The burning module worked reasonably well. The software supports burning to both DVD and CD, but is a little finicky about how you go about it. You absolutely must set the media type in the settings before attempting to do anything. It won't even accept a blank disc that doesn't match the selected type. Shouldn't it just automatically detect my media and offer appropriate burning options?! Oh well, once you have your media loaded TotalMedia allows you to select which video to burn, and even includes the ability to build a quick disc menu.
But before you go burning all your episodes of...whatever...onto disc you might want to cut out the commercials first. TotalMedia includes a video editing module that allows a rough, manual methd to cut segments out of the video. It's nothing like an automated commercial clipper, but unless you archive everything you record it shouldn't be too much work. Once you cut out the junk you can select a thumbnail for the video from anywhere in the stream.
Going on a vacation? Ride the bus to school? Prefer to watch in your room?There is a "To Go" module in TotalMedia that will convert and export your videos to a portable device. At this time the software only supports iPod, Sony PSP, a windows device, and a couple other players. For the windows device you have a very limited amount of control over the output format. If the format is right for some other device you can always save the transcoded file to your hard drive and manually transfer the file to your device. This is a nifty feature, but it falls far short for power users. I need full-blown transcoding options. For me that means turning to an external application. It's just as well since it was hard for me to determine if TotalMedia really uses the GPU at all for decoding. If it does it doesn't take full advantage of the features from the graphics card.