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jwillis84 08-19-2019 06:46 PM

Another ATI USB dongle found, Mac/Win, VirtualDub compatible
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This probably won't win any awards for news of the year.

Its the only device with an ATI Theater 500 chip I've ever come across.

The eyeTV hybrid works fine with VirtualDub 1.9.11 under both Windows 7x64 (with out of box devices drivers, it auto installs) and on a Mac with OSX 10.6.8 using eyeTV 3.x (I have not checked later versions but should work up to Sierra 10.12 eyeTV 3.x works and it supports it internally.)

It was designed in 2010 to work with eyeTV 3.x and Windows 7 Media center.


Not that I "Recommend" its use.. I was just curious if any dongle had crossed the streams and supported "both" platforms.

I only used the Microsoft out of box drivers, so my experience is probably colored by that poor choice.. it came with a CDROM device driver disk for both Mac and Windows, previous experience has taught that using the CDROM that comes with the product is usually the better choice.

But I think this is the (only) example of an ATI Theater 500 chip in any product. Its number scheme is "less than" the Theater 550 chip in the Elite PCI card.. which tends to suggest its a non-hardware MPEG2 encoder. The chip numbers with even numbers tended to not support on chip hardware encoding and used the full 25 MBps of the USB 2.0 bus for Uncompressed video.. encoding it on the capture system.

The later "wheat biscuit" or "butter dish" HDTV tuners with the USB connection used the ATI Theater 650 chipset.

It does get hot, but the case is made of aluminum, so you could put it on top of a USB fan to keep it cool.

I really didn't have to do anything fancy with VirtualDub except use the Video > Source menu option to select S-Video.. it defaulted to the Tuner. The tuner is both "analog and digital" hence the "hybrid" name.

Be aware there were two generations of this, the earlier was only suggested for Mac use only. And there was a DVB-T version for the European market. I tested the North American version.

ATI also shipped a version of their own "Media Center" like software for their "Mac only 650" called ATI TV Portal.. but while I've seen pictures.. and would love to get a copy to play around with.. I've never been able to find it. It would be interesting to see if it backwards supported this dongle.

Comparing this with the Grass Valley ADVC mini is worth while.

Its really nice to have a choice on a Mac system.. but I think the capture application included with the ADVCmini makes is more useful.

On a Mac I've only been able to use eyeTV to capture with the eyeTV Hybrid and it only offers three compressed profiles, even at its highest setting its still in MPEG2 with 4:2:0 and I frames. I'm pretty sure this is a design consideration for the eyeTV 3.x software. The video data probably comes in Uncompressed and they route it through software compression on the OS X operating system.

On Windows the VirtualDub option offers Uncompressed 4:2:2 capture.

OBS Studio.. does work with it.. difficultly.

Playing with this has confirmed an earlier "guess" that capture devices that don't normally work with VIrtualDub can be configured in a "backwards" fashion from within the device driver "filter" control panel. By first selecting Audio and configuring that so you can hear it, then configuring the Video to source S-Video or Composite or Tuner.

The eyeTV Hybrid works fine with VirtualDub out of the box with video and audio, but you have to select the source from VirtualDub menus.

The eyeTV Hybrid does not work with OBS Studio out of the box because it defaults to the Tuner Input and the audio does not autoswitch in OBS Studio. So you have to get into the "filter" control panel and manually configure the Audio source as "Custom" and the select the Video source totally manually. Since your doing this through the "filter" control panel and not the OBS Studio menus.. it can't save the settings.. and reverts after each OBS Studio "session" and is quite annoying.

However this "teaches" that the same method should work in VirtualDub for many "unsupported" capture devices which VirtualDub can open the "filter" control panel for manual manipulation.

It comes at an oblique angle.. but this is really useful information to know works. It means there may well be an alternative to 'Crossbar Thingy' when VirtualDub doesn't setup the video or sound correctly.

hodgey 08-19-2019 06:59 PM


Originally Posted by jwillis84 (Post 63561)
Not that I "Recommend" its use.. I was just curious if any dongle had crossed the streams and supported "both" platforms.

Not sure if you mean in general, or with ATI devices. Many empia-based dongles can be used both on windows and with the VideoGlide sofware on mac. Both the VC500 mac (one em2860 + SAA7113 and one em2980) we got works on windows as well as mac. The latter only supports 640x480 though.. Magix device with the same chipset does not work on macos, so think it's more commonly that there exist drivers for the ones advertised towards mac use for Windows.

As for ATI-based ones I guess there's not a lot.

jwillis84 08-19-2019 07:34 PM


Not that I "Recommend" its use..
I was referring to the fact it is not a T200 chip, the Theater 200 is well regarded for high 12 bit input and leaving the Gain Control alone, static.. so there is no algorithm that is not under your control.. you could add one after via in between source and capture proc amp, or after via software.. but the T200 just doesn't play guessing games.

The T500 chip is by "numerical value" earlier than the T550 which was known to have an AGC control problem and could ramp or overreact to signal luminance issues.. be that Macrovision or poor quality faded signal.

So basically (I don't know) that it should or should not be "Recommended".. I was being a bit ambiguous.. since I've not had a lot of experience with it.. and I don't know others who would recommend it.

Since it was advertised for WMC - Windows Media Center on the Windows 7 platform, and said to have worked on Windows 8 up to the earliest versions of Windows 10.. nobody probably ever checked if it would work with VirtualDub or OBS or anything else. I didn't even expect it to work.. it just did.. so its news to me too..

I have played around with the VC500Mac and VideoGlide.. it should work.. I could not get it to work. The included VC500Mac (EMPIA Branded Capture app) does work.

It is possible the specific EMPIA chipset in the version I have is not supported by VideoGlide as of when they stopped updating it. -- I think I have a very new version of the VC500Mac.

The VC500 line seems either to favor the "total" EMPIA chipset from USB port to decoder, or for some reason defaults to the standard capture limits of all EMPIA devices. I tend to think they are a direct product from EMPIA Taiwan as a reference design possibly a demonstration unit handed out or sold in small quantities.

They are a fabless chip company but make a lot of proprietary chip designs and support chips for different things. Some of their intellectual property application sheets for their older capture decoder have leaked online. They definitely are cost conscious and did not "over design" like ATI or TI did. But they also don't share intellectual property openly. So they are rather hard to support outside their specific ecosystem.

I'm looking at another wildcard USB dongle out there with Mac and Windows support.. but have not decided to pursue it yet. EMPIA usb bridges are in a lot of things.. and it can be hard to figure out what the actual decoder is without disassembling one. I did disassemble the Grass Valley ADVCmini.. and know exactly what's inside.

Grass Valley did not use EMPIA in the bridge or the decoder, they totally went their own way from top to bottom.. and its over built.. and I think it really shows. That probably made it more expensive than others to manufacture and couldn't compete and that's why it didn't stay on the market long.

To get "specific" what I mean by "overbuilt" is when their Input A-to-D converters are 10-bit or higher, like the ATI 12-bit on their encoders. EMPIA are all 8-bit as far as I have encountered. All dongles are all 8-bit on the output to fit the 601(?) specification.. but having the finer resolution capture on the original analog signal helps to enable better processing of the signal to reject noise and aliasing. Also "overbuilt" to me is when the device driver control panels offer more control over their underlying hardware beyond the bare minimum.

So far we've found these USB dongles based on ATI chips:

ATI TV Wonder USB1.0N - T100 (retconned)
ATI TV Wonder USB2.0N - T200
ATI TV Wonder USB2.0X - T500 (eyeTV hybrid)
ATI TV Wonder USB2.0Y - T650

I have a vague suspicion that the eyeTV HDTV (may) also be ATI based.. but can't be sure yet.. its well regarded by Apple Mac users and getting one is like prying something away very precious to them.

lordsmurf 08-20-2019 06:22 AM


ATI TV Portal
From brief reading, supposedly/allegedly, this was a beta protected by NDA, not available anywhere.

jwillis84 08-20-2019 09:48 AM

Yeah.. it had a NDA protected Beta, but AMD/ATI apparently "briefly" shipped it through Diamond and Visiontek, through either Circuit City or Best Buy.

There are a lot of review photos.. it looked great.

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