Watching TV in Windows Vista with the ATI TV Wonder 600 USB

Watching TV in Windows Vista with the ATI TV Wonder 600 USB

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Windows Media Center makes it really easy to watch TV on Windows Vista (Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate) with a built in Guide that lets you browse TV shows and movies and schedule recordings of your favorite ones. Many PCs today come with TV functionality built in via TV cards. But not all Windows Vista PCs come equipped with TV capability. Unlike a few years ago - adding TV functionality to your PC is very easy. Let me share my experience in adding TV functionality to one of my PCs.

The ATI TV Wonder 600 USB

AMD brings TV capability to your PC through their ATI TV Wonder products. Some of their products are PC cards that must be installed inside the actual PC - and others are USB devices that can simply be plugged in to a USB port. I picked up AMD's ATI TV Wonder 600 USB TV tuner - which is Certified for Windows Vista. This small USB device lets you plug in a coaxial cable for TV capability or use an antenna for free over-the-air television - including over-the-air HDTV.

The ATI TV Wonder 600 USB has the following features:

  • USB 2.0
  • Hybrid TV Tuner Stick for:
    • Over-the-air Digital TV / HDTV1 (ATSC)
    • Over-the-air / Cable Analog TV (NTSC)
  • Remote control
  • Telescopic antenna to receive free-to-air TV channels
  • Capture from VCRs, camcorders with the included audio/video input cable

I took some unboxing shots to share with you:

The ATI TV Wonder 600 USB Box Opening the ATI TV Wonder 600 USB Box The ATI TV Wonder 600 USB USB connection for ATI TV Wonder 600
Remote for the ATI TV Wonder 600 USB

Setting up TV functionality in Windows Media Center is really easy. If you have not used Windows Media Center before, when you launch Windows Media Center for the first time it will take you through a series of steps to set everything up.

 

If you have used Windows Media Center before and already did Windows Media Center's initial setup - to set up TV all you need to do is go to Settings and TV and click on "Set Up TV Signal". Windows Media Center will take you through a series of screens with options to set up everything you need for watching TV.

Picking up the ATI TV Wonder 600 USB TV tuner allowed me to easily add TV functionality to my main desktop PC. I had TV functionality in a matter of just a few minutes. Since the ATI TV Wonder 600 is a USB device, I can pack the device up and take it with me and use it on my laptop as well.

Hauppauge also offers products for bringing TV onto your PC and Windows Media Center.

I plan to dive deeper in several upcoming posts in using Windows Media Center and TV functionality.

16 Comments
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  • It's quite funny how Microsoft only chooses to respond to the glowing comments while leaving the other comments unanswered and ignored.

    Sure they are offtopic and don't belong here. That's just showing the level of frustration that is out there at the moment regarding Vista and it's various snafus. If Microsfot could just direct all of us to the correct forum where we will get our questions answered then I'm sure we'll go there and leave these forums alone. Until then, Microsoft, you just go right ahead and keep ignoring the complaints - I guess we're all idiots for expecting more.

  • Why do the comments of the blog entries for tv watching and Skydrive get more responses from you guys than the comments in other entries where angry customers are demanding answers for the myriad problems of your top of the line operating system?

  • Just as another option, you can get this on newegg for $99.99 (with free shipping right now... don't know how long that will last though).

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815306011

  • Rimouskois, yeah this doesn't have Digital CableCard support - CableCard tuners are only available through purchasing PCs from folks such as Velocity Micro, Dell, or HP. I've not yet dived in to CableCard TV tuners but I plan to!

    freitasm, interesting thoughts. Hopefully someone from the Windows Media Center Team is reading this!

    Renie33, I did experience audio being out of sync with video in Windows Media Center but all I did to correct the issue was close Windows Media Center and then re-launch it. You could always reboot too.

    - Brandon

  • Rimouskois, yeah this doesn't have Digital CableCard support - CableCard tuners are only available through purchasing PCs from folks such as Velocity Micro, Dell, or HP. I've not yet dived in to CableCard TV tuners but I plan to!

    freitasm, interesting thoughts. Hopefully someone from the Windows Media Center Team is reading this!

    Renie33, I did experience audio being out of sync with video in Windows Media Center but all I did to correct the issue was close Windows Media Center and then re-launch it. You could always reboot too.

    - Brandon

  • freitasm
    247 Posts

    @pard51... Let me get this right. You get over the phone advice from a technician that did not even look at your PC to diagnose the cause of any problems it would be happening, and you blame the OS for causing problems?

    Tell me this is not a joke.

  • pard51
    1 Posts

    I just want to know does mirosoft care that windows vista is crap for the general coputer user it is great if all you want to use is what comes preloaded on your computer but when you start doing anything usefull forget it problems and more problems. I up graded to a new biger and what i thought would be better but it is not because of the problems with vista just had to reload vist from my disk and lost everything because thats what a stupid on tech told me to do over the telephone and it has been hell trying to get up and going again boy i sure wish i had my old computer back.

  • freitasm
    247 Posts

    When we decided to finally get a media center in the lounge here I opted to run Windows Vista Ultimate on a Mac mini. The Mac mini hardware is perfect - small and silent.

    For DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcast) I opted for a Hauppage WinTV-HVR 900 USB adapter which works great on Windows Vista - but not so on Windows Media Center.

    Two reasons: first the lack of actual support for DVB-T in Windows Media Center, meaning that a scan of digital TV yeld no results on Media Center, while the very good DVBViewer program returned 12 channels.

    I think this is related to the country information Media Center downloads before the scan, which probably contains outdated information.

    The next problem is that that DVB-T in New Zealand is using the H.264 codec for high definition video, and Windows Vista does not support this yet.

    The alternative is to install a third party codec such as the Cyberlink PowerDVD, which is not free.

    Once you have the H.264 codec and the DVBViewer program you can see digital HD in New Zealand.

    It is rumoured Windows Vista Media Center would support H.264 in th near future as part of an upcoming release but no word on this yet.

    Also there's no word on when Microsoft would move to update the country information files to correctly identify the frequencies and channels available.

    Until then I created a couple of configuration files (http://www.geekzone.co.nz/freitasm/4587) that create a tile on Media Center, one that terminates Media Center and starts DVBViewer.

    In other words, a workaround but not a solution.

  • could this also be a solution for europe (dvb-t)?

  • Nice tuner, I've been wanting to upgrade to something with a built in ATSC tuner as my Hauppage PVR 150 only has an NTSC tuner.  $80 is a great price though, I would jump on it if I didnt already have a great Hauppage card.

    I guess I have one year left before the old Analog TV Signal gets cut off, before I will really need one of these.  Nice to see technology progressing hopefully by the time I buy this the price will drop.... unless inflation keeps it where it is!

  • Renie33, unfortunately this isn't the right place in seeking technical support. I recommend contact ATI's support folks.

    However, I can recommend checking your sound card driver - run Windows Update and see if any new sound drivers are available. You should also check the sound card's manufacturer as well for newer drivers. This might fix it.

    I assume you installed the drivers from the ATI disc that is included with the device right?

    - Brandon

  • Renie33
    1 Posts

    I tried to install the ATI 600 USB on my new HP Windows Vista Media Center and could not get it to sync the voice with the person speaking. Any ideas on how to fix this? Thanks

  • That would be great, except that those HD TV tuners do not have a port for a CableCARD, which means that the only HDTV channels you'll get are ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS plus some obscure local channels; and Media Center can only operate one display.

  • windows vista ultimate user254,

    I bought the ATI TV Wonder 600 USB for 102.99 at Best Buy but right now it looks like Best Buy has them on sale off their website for $79.99.

    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8516108&st=ATI+TV+Wonder&type=product&id=1186006197147

    - Brandon

  • Now THAT is cool! It will have to do until we finish ZuneTV!

  • dang thats one sick gadget there it easier now to view tv on windows media center without a standard tv tuner brandon how much does it cost so i can get one because i dont have room for a regular tv tuner upgrade