ATI Technologies has announced at Comdex a software update that will enable ATI All-in-Wonder graphics boards to act as home video servers.
The result gives TiVo-like video recording functions to a PC with an ATI All-in-Wonder graphics board connected to a TV source. Multimedia Center 8.8 is scheduled to be available next week as a free download from ATI.
While current versions of Multimedia Center already give personal video recording capabilities to PCs equipped with All-in-Wonder boards, version 8.8's new EazyShare feature turns them into home video servers. The server can be accessed by any PC on the network that has an ATI Radeon graphics board and is running the same free software.
This means that one PC with an All-in-Wonder card can stream TV programs, either live or prerecorded on that PC, to any Radeon-equipped PC in a networked home. (ATI's All-in-Wonder cards have built-in TV tuners; its Radeon boards do not.) ATI officials say the technology supports a variety of networks, including standard 10/100 Ethernet, Home PNA phone, 802.11g wireless, and even the slower 802.11b wireless.
Additional system requirements, besides ATI graphics boards, are not onerous: ATI says you need only a 500-MHz Pentium or equivalent CPU to capture MPEG 2 video, and 128MB of system memory.
TV on the Fly
In a Comdex demo, ATI officials were able to view and pause live TV on a Radeon PC that was receiving the stream from an All-in-Wonder PC on the same network.
As before, Multimedia Center also supports an ATI remote, including a 10-foot interface that's designed for viewing from a distance. The software can record FM radio as well.
The TiVo television recording service has proved a popular way to record and share video within the home. However, the TiVo service charges a fee--and ATI's high-end All-in-Wonder boards aren't cheap either, at a few hundred dollars apiece.