I managed to run across one cheap NIB, so I decided to do some quick testing. My initial testing with color bars shows that this capture stick (at least the one I have) appears to have chroma thats a bit more blurry then my AVer HD DVR card. Testing was done with the color bars on the AVT-8710 and the S-Video with the driver's proc-amp settings at their defaults.
(see zip file for lossless PNG samples without compression artifacts)
ATI TV Wonder HD 600 USB:
AVermedia HD DVR PCIe:
Notice that the 600USB isn't quite as sharp around color boundaries. Adjusting the onboard proc amp's sharpness did nothing to correct the problem. I'll repeat that I have not tested this USB stick with actual video yet, so stay tuned. The ATI may need some tweaking of the brightness/contract control as well, but thats best adjusted with bars coming off of a VCR before capture. As with any card, results are subjective.
Also, these USB sticks DO NOT use the ATI Theater capture chip. They are actually based on the Empia EM28XX series chips, the same chips found in the often copied "EZCap" USB cables found on ebay
. This chip lacks nice features like a 3D comb filter on the composite input. Looking at ATI's spec sheets, the later 650 and 700 appear to use the Theater chipset, but they have known AGC problems.
If anyone is looking for a replacement video input dongle, the original AMD part numbers direct off the bag it came in is below. It might be possible to order direct from AMD or third party vendors like Diamond.
AMD PN: 6110025700G
MFG PN: R3CGG161100190L
Finally, Catalyst Media Center is indeed pretty crappy. Its a re branded version of Cyberlink Power Director. Whats worse is it refuses to work with my HD 600 at all, it complains that the TV Tuner can't be found (apparently a very common problem). The ATSC tuner does work fine with Windows Media Center. The reception compared to newer tuners is very poor however. I'm normally able to get all the area TV stations using a set of rabbit ears and a UHF loop. The same antenna connected to this tuner only barely picks up one station.