More video memory, better graphics, watching TV on your computer, or just to hook up that camcorder and edit your favorite movies. These are all reasons to buy a new and better video card but if you want a really good one your going to have to pay the price.
The price can be in dollars or it can also be in hassles. I understood the hassles I was getting into and that was little compared to what I received in entertainment and value.
I was looking to upgrade my computer with a better video card and wanted to be able to hook a camcorder to it in the future. I looked and decided to go with one that was on sale at a local Walmart.
The ATI All-In-Wonder 9200 is a very good general purpose video card with some great features. I saw on the internet that you could hook up a camcorder, it comes with a cable that hooks up your camcorder with an S-video or RCA cables.
You can watch TV on your computer with the All-In-Wonder card. All you need to do is hook up an antenna or cable TV for reception. You can also play video from your camera or VCR and record onto a DVD. You can connect your TV set as your computer display using the composite or S-video outputs.
It has 128 MB of video memory, more on that later, and handles all of the screen sizes I would want to use. I wanted one that had good video memory and would be able to handle the larger screen sizes. It goes from the smaller size of 800 x 600 up to 2048 x 1536.
A little explanation may be in order here. Video memory is the memory that comes on the card that your computer uses to handle the graphics that go onto your screen. With larger sizes of video memory like 128 and 256 Mega Bytes, you will get better images and be able to play better and more intense looking video games.
The screen size is more of a personal preference. I use the 1024 x 768 size, it’s nice, the icons are a decent size and the games I play are all the same screen size using this one. Some people use different sizes and that is up to them. This card is nice because it covers many of the sizes.
Some cards don’t get some of the larger sizes. The video memory is kind of a trade off with the other things the card can do. I was really happy with the TV reception. It’s neat to sit and be able to record some programs and news shows for later viewing.
It is much easier to record some quick piece on the news like when your kids soccer team makes the six o’clock news. All you have to do is click on the ATI Launch Pads TV icon and then click the little camcorder on the controls for the TV. It records onto your computer and you can record it to a disc or play it later for the wife.
I have tried out the TV as a display and it is neat but I don’t have much use for it. You can’t read the icons or words that are on your TV screen because of the resolution loss going to a TV but you can do things like play games on it. As long as you don’t need to read anything that comes up. It is kind of cool to play something like Halo on a bigger screen than the regular monitor.
Some of the things that I found out about the card before I bought it has to deal with the drivers for the card. And this is where the hassles come in. The card is great, there is no denying that. Clear picture and it captures video and VCR recordings just fine. But, the problem with the drivers can be frustrating.
You have to download the drivers and load them from the disc or go to the web site and download them there. When you download them from the site, you have to go with what your computer can handle as far as whether you have dial up internet or a faster one like DSL.
If you have dial up you download the drivers in pieces and then install them one at a time. There are 4 downloads for what is called the catalyst, which is just for the card itself. There is another 3 downloads for the Multi Media Center which is the things like the TV tuner, the DVD player and the TV Guide.
If you go with the faster downloads you only have one download for the catalyst or card but still the 3 for the Media center. This is why I say it can be a hassle.
There is another thing that you need to know about before purchasing any card from ATI from what I hear on the internet. If you do not do a clean install of the drivers you can have problems with them.
By clean I mean that you need to totally delete the old drivers from whatever cards you had and especially any previous versions of ATI drivers to get the new ones to install and work properly.
I had this problem and had to try a few times to get the drivers loaded correctly. I went to a couple of web sites, not ATI, to get advice for loading the drivers. The one I used is here: http://rage3d.com/board/showthread.php?t=33738545
The website has been developed from users of ATI video cards that want to help people with the ATI products. They started the web site to help people due to a lack of other support and are the best website to get help or troubleshoot problems with your ATI video cards.
ATI has a small program that is supposed to delete the old drivers and with that and some other steps you remove the old drivers and install the new ones for the card. Sometimes you will have to do this a couple of times to get it to work.
So, if you do not have much computer skill or knowledge with drivers and things like your registry, you might not want to go with an ATI video card. You may get very frustrated or lost trying to get it installed correctly. It can be frustrating even for the people who know what they are doing.
I installed mine and the actual putting the card in the computer went fine. I put it in the slot for the AGP which is the brown connector and hooked the cables up according to the instructions in the pamphlet. The drivers the first time went fine for me. Then a couple of weeks later I tried to update the drivers with the ones on the internet and then had to go to the rage3d site to figure out how to do it.
I spent a few days trying and finally got it done and working. I have updated it a couple of times since and it went fine after I found the site and got help from them. They have a step by step process that you can follow and it has worked every time for me since.
That is the only complaint I have with the card, but it can be a big one if you are not very computer literate. If you just want something for camcorder capture for playing your movies to your computer there is other ways you can go.
They have capture devices that you hook up to your fire wire or USB connector that you then hook your camcorder to for an easy way to record. This kind of card is great for what it is made for but does have some added hassles.
The hassles are worth it though, at least for me. I love some of the features, the quick record of TV, the TV guide, excellent video game graphics and the capture of videos such as my wedding and kids tapes that I am transferring to DVD’s.
The Tv guide is a nice feature, once a week it updates and then anytime that week the TV guide is one click away. You just have the Multimedia bar at the bottom of your screen as a toolbar and you can click on the TV guide button and it pops up with the current showing times on the page of what you have programmed in.
I hooked a regular TV antenna up to my card and it works as good as the regular TV for the channels I get in my area. I can then record with the click of one button as I watch the show or news.
The card comes with a great video editing bonus. My card came with the Pinnacle Studio 8 video editing program. You can use this program to capture, edit and record many formats of video onto a DVD or CD. I have been working on doing this and my son has been using it to work on some school projects he has been involved with.
He likes it because of it’s ease of use. You can, with very little help from the programs help section, start editing and piecing together your video and recording it. You can do this in different formats, from the analog of the VCR it captures through the card and onto your computer in a format for the program.
Then you can reformat it after editing to use on your computer, or record to a CD or DVD. For each one of these you need to use a different format, and it tells you how to do this and what you need to do in easy steps.
The editing can be as easy or you can make it more complex, with titles and credits all your own. There is a lot you can do with the program and it is not even the full version that you can upgrade to.
My card came with a purple cable that hooks the camcorder into the card using either an S video and audio cable or the RCA type cable. You may have to buy some cables for using your video card to hook the VCR to it or to your TV to use a display.
Overall the ATI All-In-Wonder 9200 is a great video card. It is inexpensive at about $130, but does have some added costs in the other cables you might need depending on what you want to do with it. I have bought three other cables for mine.
The graphics and frame rates in games with high memory costs are great, like Far Cry. I am very impressed with the images in my games and how easily the card handles the wide variety of uses I have put it to.
The only caution I would have with it is about the drivers and the problems some people might have with them. If you are not into figuring out the drivers and going into step by step instructions using a few different programs to ensure proper installations, then you might steer clear of these types of cards.
I have been able to figure it out and am very pleased with the results I have gotten with it. If you do get one you can get help over the internet from Rage3d.
Other than the drivers I am very impressed and happy with the ATI card. I would recommend this if you want an all around video card that can handle many different tasks dealing with video and graphics.