New Video Products

From couch potato to desktop tuber: If you can't get enough TV even while toiling away at your computer, ATI Technologies Inc. has a family of video graphics cards just for you. In late January, the Markham, Ontario company announced new additions to its "All-in-Wonder" line of graphics cards. Among them are the All-in-Wonder 9600XT, All-in-Wonder 9600, and All-in-Wonder 9200. The All-in-Wonder 9600XT delivers more multimedia features via a graphics engine clocked at 525 MHz, with 128 MB of memory running at 650 MHz. Priced at $299 (US) this new multimedia solution includes an "FM-on-Demand" feature to receive and record favorite FM radio stations. It also offers dual VGA monitor support, integrated DVD authoring and burning, and comes bundled with MPEG-4-enabled Multimedia Center 8.8 software.

Budget-conscious videophiles may prefer the $199 All-in-Wonder 9600, with full-featured DirectX 9 hardware support to play graphically-demanding computer games. The card is said to work equally well for creating DVDs. At $149, All-in-Wonder 9200 offers "great game play" with Radeon 9200 graphics and easy home movie video editing/DVD burning, with connectivity for VCRs and camcorders. ATI All-in-Wonder products are available at Wal-Mart stores.

If you want to get serious about desktop theater, Princeton Digital Inc. has announced a high-performance 19" LCD monitor, the SENergy 914. Priced at $699, the 914 features 700:1 contrast ratio, high brightness, quick response and recovery time, and a 170° viewing angle. The slim-bezel TFT display has triple inputs, including DVI-D and RGB. Action sequences should look good on the 914 thanks to its 25ms response time (15ms on, 10ms off). Colors should likewise look realistic thanks to 24-bit color processing technology. Native resolution is 1280 x 1024; ergonomic refinements include front/back tilt, height adjustment, and pivoting stand. The SENergy 914 is compatible with a VESA 100mm wall/arm mount, and comes with a three-year warranty. Available in March.

All for one, one for all: Doremi Labs Inc. will unveil its new compact XDVI multi-format video converter at the upcoming convention of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). The XDVI converts video between different computer scan rates, as well as from and to HD-SDI and standard definition video. The XDVI features DVI, SDI, and HD-SDI inputs and outputs. Any input can be converted to any output format or scan rate using the XDVI, Doremi claims. XDVI applications include computer-to-video scan conversion, HD video up-conversion, down-conversion and more. Analog VGA is also supported via the DVI-I input, according to a late January announcement.

Big screen LCDs get a boost: Sharp Corporation has completed its Kameyama LCD production plant in Japan's Kameyama City (Mie Prefecture), and has begun start-to-finish production of large-screen LCD TVs. The plant will be the "world's first to utilize large-format 1500 x 1800-mm mother glass substrates, from fabrication of LCD panels to final assembly, to supply large-screen LCD TVs with high-quality pictures and sound," states a January 9 press release. The plant is a vertically-integrated facility designed to bring together in a single operation Sharp's proprietary LCD and video imaging technologies. Due to huge demand worldwide for large-screen LCD TVs, this summer Sharp will install a second production line for large-format LCDs within the Kameyama Plant. At that point the plant will produce 27,000 large substrate panels, the equivalent of 324,000 26" wide-format LCD modules per month. The plant currently employs approximately 1000 workers.

The public's demand for flat panel TVs appears almost insatiable. According to research firm DisplaySearch, 93,000 large-screen (22" to 37" diagonally) LCD TVs were sold in North America during the fourth quarter of 2003, more than half of the 180,000 sold during the past year. Pre-Super Bowl frenzy could push that number to approximately 200,000 units. Another research firm that closely follows the flat panel market is iSuppli/StanfordResources, which expects shipments of 120,000 plasma displays to North American dealers this quarter.