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Product: 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV
Company: Hercules
Website: http://www.hercules.com
Estimated Street Price:
$299.99
Review By: Julien Jay

Software

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Radeon 8500 Architecture
3: Accessories
4: Software
5: Direct 3D Benchmarks
6: OpenGL Benchmarks
7:
Conclusion

   As good as the 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500 DV might be, it remains useless without good software. Thatís why, the Hercules 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500 DV is provided with a complete set of ATI applications that manage and support every advanced multimedia features of the graphics card. Hercules has also been kind enough to include Ulead VideoStudio 5 to help users capture and mount films, fingers in the nose. 

The angular stone of the ATI software bundle is undeniably the ATI Multimedia Center. The MultiMedia Center gives you total control over the cardís advanced features. From it you can watch TV, playback a DVD/VCD/CD, playback video files stored on your hard disk, access the teletext, surf the media library and configure Hydravision.


ATI Multimedia Center 7.6 LaunchPad (click to enlarge)

Watching TV

For many people, the built-in TV tuner of the Hercules 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV is the reason of the purchase. The TV software offered by ATI is extremely complete. On the first launch itíll ask you to specify the country you live in, the TV standard (Secam, NTSC, etc.) as well as the TV mode (Antenna/Cable). Once that information is gathered, the software will automatically search tune and store channels. Five minutes later, youíre ready to watch TV. The image quality is simply amazing and can sustain the comparison with most recent TVs, which is a good thing.  


ATI TV Setup (click to enlarge)

The software offers a rocking ĎTV on Demandí feature that lets you record a show while watching another channel. The TimeShifting lets you Ďpauseí a TV program if you need to pass a phone call, open the door, etc. When you pause a TV show, the software will record the show on the hard disk using the MPEG2 format making sure that when you come back you havenít missed any moment of the show. 


ATI TV Viewer - screen is black because of the overlay - (click to enlarge)

ATiís TV software lets you capture still images from your favorite shows, and you can eventually enable the parental control feature thatíll block any unauthorized access. The TV stream can be displayed in windowed mode or in full screen. Obviously more you increase the size of the TV display area, more the image quality decreases. The TV transparency feature of the ATI TV player makes the TV window transparent so you can watch TV without hiding everything behind the TV window. Throughout the different versions of ATI Multimedia Center the Teletext application has remained the same and is still implemented in this release which is cool to quickly check out the programs on a channel or read the latest news.


ATI TeleText (click to enlarge)

Multimedia Player

To watch DVDs, Video CD or listen to Audio CDs, the ATI Multimedia Center uses a proprietary multimedia player. This player is extremely simple and offers a stylish interface. The ATI DVD Player is built around the Raviscent engine thus delivering an astonishing image quality as well as a kicking sound. When using the Hercules 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV with a TV connected as the secondary screen, you can set ATI DVD player to play DVDs on the TV while the computer screen remains useable for work tasks. However everything isnít perfect: ATIís DVD player isnít compatible with DTS sound and the time position bar is still buggy. The only advantage of the ATI DVD Player is its full All In Wonder 8500DV optimization. Apart that, it remains extremely basic. Thatís why many users will prefer using the All In Wonder 8500DV with king of the hill DVD software like PowerDVD & WinDVD to enjoy their advanced features.

 


ATI File Player, Audio CD Player & DVD Player (click to enlarge)

Video Acquisition

The Hercules 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV drivers let you capture video from any analogue sources, including the TV tuner. You can use predefined profiles to customize the recording quality (like MPEG format, AVI format, Windows Media format). When capturing videos, the Hercules All In Wonder 8500DV rely almost entirely on the processor of your computer. Indeed the basic video capturing features of the board are appreciable but canít be compared to specialized video capturing hardware like Pinnacle solutions. Thus you computer should be powerful enough, at least 800MHz, to successfully achieve video captures in 720*576 resolution (equal to a DVD resolution). 

The digital capture port of the card doesnít require any drivers. The IEEE 1394 port of the Hercules 3D Prophet 8500DV is natively managed by Windows and thus by every video mounting software that supports FireWire sources. If the MultimediaCenter doesnít let you capture videos from the DV entry of the All In Wonder 8500 you can perfectly use the Windows Movie Maker applet of Windows Me or Windows XP. Of course the provided Ulead VideoStudio 5 software perfectly supports the DV capture. To capture DV videos the card acts like a cheap firewire adapter since it isnít assisted by a hardware DV codec. Thus capturing and rendering videos in DV is more resources consuming than capturing analogue videos. Thatís why a 900MHz or 1GHz PC is probably the minimum vital if you want to enjoy the smoothest video capturing experience with your Hercules All In Wonder 8500 DV.

MultiScreen

The Hercules 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV offers support for multi screen output. The card lets you output the video signal on a secondary TV screen. When using the TV output the computer screen and the TV will operate at a different refresh rate, thanks to the ATI Rage Theater chip. The card can perform a TV output with resolutions up to 1024*768 in PAL & NTSC. The drivers let you use the TV as the primary or secondary screen.


ATI Displays Settings (click to enlarge)

ę Accessories Benchmarks Ľ

 

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