Graphics cards: beyond 3D gameplay

The consistent success of the All-in-Wonder range demonstrates that there is life beyond 3D gameplay. With this card you can capture and manipulate live video, listen to radio broadcasts - provided you buy a separate FM antenna - and watch television and DVDs from the same glossy front-end.

Version 8.6 of ATI's MultiMedia Center is as user-friendly as ever, giving you quick access to the many facilities. The remote control unit uses radio frequencies, so you can control the PC even when you're in another room.

The All-in-Wonder range was an early pioneer of timeshifting. It allows you to pause a live TV broadcast so that you can come back later on and start watching from where you left off. This feature can now be applied to radio broadcasts as well. Thanks to pitchshifting, you can alter the speed of playback without changing the tone of voice. Only high-end users will quibble about the video recording facilities. Live video can be captured at the rate of 30fps and then transferred to DVD or VCD for future storage. A copy of Pinnacle Studio allows you to embellish the video with special effects and transitions for the full Hollywood effect.

Whether you're watching television or video images, you can make the windows translucent so that you can see the images and work on a spreadsheet at the same time. This is the first version of the All-in-Wonder to offer dual-monitor support, although the absence of a DVI connector is a slight niggle.

This isn't the fastest card available but it does improve on the specs of the original chip, boosting memory core speed from 300MHz to 325MHz. Combine this with smooth DirectX 9.0 support and you have a card that makes a better job of the latest games titles than the original 9600 Pro or the GeForce FX 5600. Games enthusiasts may look elsewhere, but for the rest of us the Sapphire shows what else you can do with today's graphics technology.

Sapphire All-in-Wonder 9600 Pro
Price: $399
Distributor: Achieva Technology
Phone: (02) 9742 3288

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Robin Morris

PC World
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