New ATSC Tuners from AMD

AMD announced two new DTV tuners this week: The TV Wonder 600 USB, a USB stick tuner, and the TV Wonder 650 PCIe board. The features in the TV Wonder 600 USB look similar to those offered in competing USB ATSC tuners from Pinnacle and Hauppauge, with the exception that it supports the ATI Catalyst software suite. As with the Pinnacle and Hauppauge USB ATSC “stick” tuners, it receives analog over-the-air, analog cable and ATSC over-the-air DTV but doesn’t demodulate QAM digital cable TV. You’ll need a larger box like the Autumnwave OnAir GT or the FusionHDTV5 USB Gold to do that. I this item in the feature list: “Free-to-air HDTV with no monthly fees.”

The TV Wonder 650 PCI Express board requires a desktop computer but has two tuners which receive FM radio, analog TV (over-the-air and cable), ATSC DTV (over-the-air) and unencrypted QAM cable DTV. I didn’t see any mention of CableCARD support for digital cable. The ATI Catalyst Media Center software provides full PVR and time shifting functionality and allows access from a broadband-connected computer using Orb software.

AMD purchased ATI in October 2006. In 2002, ATI purchased Nxtwave Communications. Nxtwave developed advanced QAM, COFDM and ATSC/VSB demodulator chips. The AMD/ATI Web site didn’t mention which demodulator was used in the TV Wonder 600 USB.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.