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HDTV Wonder and 1080i - audio works but no video

Recently I decided to make my own quick and dirty HD-DVR by installing an ATI HDTV Wonder. Installation was pretty painless and since I had a ATI Radeon 9200SE I finally got everything working smoothly (Note: in order to get the ATI Multimedia Software installed correctly I had to download the latest drivers from the ATI website).

When I was finally up and running I could watch digital 480i and 720p channels (the included antenna is quite nice since I am about 25 miles from the broadcast station). With the 1080i channels, however, I could see that I had a strong signal and the audio was coming in perfectly but I couldn’t see any video. Also, the 480i and 720p playback was a little choppy - every minute or so the video and audio would skip - it was definitely still watchable, but I wanted to address this problem as well.

I searched around online and noticed that a lot of people have had this same problem so I decided to contact ATI support about it. The first two layers of support were useless - they just told me to uninstall the ATI multimedia center and reinstall it - I knew that wasn’t it but I tried anyway - it didn’t work.

Finally my case was escalated and I received a real answer - in order to display 1080i (apparently from any source) you need to have DirectX 9.0 or higher. For the Radeon line this means a 9500 or higher - there was my problem. I am amazed that in all the forums I checked out nobody realized this - it’s a pretty simple explanation.

So I installed the ATI Radeon 9600 with 256MB of DDR memory and reinstalled the ATI Catalyst software and DirectX 9.0. I could immediately see an improvement in video playback (ie, no skipping), but then the TV tuner stopped working. I uninstalled everything ATI and started over from the beginning, first installing Catalyst and the installing the drivers and applications that came with the HDTV Wonder. After my final reboot everything worked great and I am now streaming 1080i signals to my 42″ Sony Wega HDTV flawlessly.

My next project is to actually get TitanTV to work with the HDTV Wonder - every time I try a dialog box just flashes and then closes… stay tuned.


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