New multimedia add-ins and peripherals are blurring the line between PCs and home entertainment devices. Matrox Graphics Inc. makes the point again with its announcement of the Marvel G450e-TV, an AGP add-in card that provides TV tuning, MPEG-2 analog video capture and editing, TV on the PC, PC out to TV, DVD playback, dual display support, and more.
The 2D/3D card uses the latest generation of the company's graphics chip, and will be available later this fall for an estimated street price of US$265. It will come standard with 32MB of DDR SDRAM and a 360-MHz digital-to-analog converter that supports resolutions of up to 2048 by 1536. Compatible with Windows 98, 2000, and Me, the board requires a PC with a 500-MHz or faster CPU, a 2X or 4X AGP slot, at least 64MB of system memory, and 2GB of free disk space.
The Marvel G450e-TV joins the current Marvel G400-TV in the company's all-in-one product line. The G400-TV features a built-in TV tuner and video capture and editing capabilities. The G450 goes further, adding time-shifting and immediate-record controls that let you automatically schedule video recording or quickly start recording with a single mouse click when your viewing is interrupted.
The features allow a G450e-TV-equipped PC to compete with stand-alone hard-disk-based video recorders such as those sold by Panasonic, Philips, Replay TV, and TiVo.
Are Two Heads Better?
Matrox PC-VCR 2.0, the included software used for TV recording, includes the capability to search for specific video using keywords in closed-captioning, as well as create text transcripts of shows. The board comes with Ulead VideoStudio 4.0 software to edit video and add titles, music, and special effects. And the G450 supports picture-in-picture, which allows simultaneous viewing of both recorded and live video.
Other software shipped with the board includes the Matrox Software DVD player, Ulead Photo Explorer 6.0, Windows Media Encoder, and a teletext browser. It also supports (but doesn't bundle) Microsoft NetMeeting, Microsoft WebTV, and the Microsoft MovieMaker software found in Windows Me.
The G450e-TV has a DualHead design, with two connectors that allow you to hook up a second computer monitor or a standard television. The board also has built-in support for digital flat-panel displays.
According to Matrox, the G450 chip that is the heart of the board is the most highly integrated graphics chip available. It adds the digital display capabilities, the TV output encoder, a second RAMDAC, and a DDR memory interface to the features found in the G400 chip generation. The G450 supports hardware-accelerated Environment-Mapped Bump Mapping for real-time 3D game effects and is compliant with the OpenGL and DirectX standards.