ATI TV Wonder CableCARD tuner available from SonyStyle – for $299.99!

If you want to record digital cable, including high-def content, you don’t have many options. You can use a cable company DVR, a TiVo Series3 or TiVo HD, or a Vista Media Center PC – and that’s about it. And not just any Vista Media Center PC, but one that is CableLabs certified and have the correct firmware to enable digital cable tuning. While Vista Media Center supports up to for CableCARD tuners, most of the PCs have just one or two – and the tuners haven’t been sold separately, so users have been out of luck trying to add more.

That looks like it has finally changed, as is selling the ATI Wonder CableCARD tuner as the ‘VAIO Digital TV Tuner’ for $299.99.

Yes, that’s right – one tuner, just the tuner, costs more than an entire dual-tuner TiVo HD. And you need an expensive, approved Vista Media Center PC to connect this tuner to. Yeah… I just don’t see the value here.

Picked up from Engadget. And if you think this means open season for MythTV or the like read these comments.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • HDTiVo

    How long before this thing is $49 at MSRP retailers like Best Buy?

  • megazone

    Probably a while before it is that cheap – but $300 is WAY over-priced for this. Compare it to tuner cards and USB sticks that can do NTSC/ATSC/Clear-QAM. The only difference is CableCARD support, and if TiVo can sell an entire box for $300 without subsidies (as they claim), the profit margin on this thing has to be INSANE.

  • Adria

    You all seem to know what you are talking about..I have a few questions and do not know where to turn. First a little history. I had DirectTV with Tivo and I love it. i had many satellite reception problems and with a twisted arm, I switched to COMCAST. I still have 7 or 8 months to go on my contract. I want to get a tivo series 2 to go with my digital comcast or at my friend’s home which just has basic cable. Will the tivo box: have a good picture and transition with a push of the button in the routine period of time. Reading thru the blogs and other writings, it appears these are the two main issues. Thirdly, if I do get a tivo box, does it make much of a different on if it is a refurbised box? And, lastly, does the wireless adapter work very well? Thanks for any help you can provide.

  • megazone


    If you’re going to get a box to work with Comcast then you have three options – the Series2DT, the Series3, and the TiVo HD.

    The Series3 and TiVo HD both allow you to record from antenna or cable – analog or digital. They have dual-tuners and can record any two programs at once. And can record high-definition. You use CableCARDs with these units for digital cable.

    The Series2DT does not do high-definition and cannot use antenna, and while it is ‘dual-tuner’ it is kind of a hybrid. It has dual analog cable tuners internally, so it can record any two analog cable channels (usually channels 1-99 are analog, even on ‘digital cable’), and you can have a cable box connected to the AV input for a digital channel. So it can record two analog channels at a time, or one analog and one digital channel (from the box). But it cannot do two digital channels at a time.

    Of course, the differing capabilities mean difference costs – right now you can get a S2DT *free*, while the TiVo HD is around $250 and the S3 is around $350. See the current deals.

    Refurbished or not doesn’t really matter – but with a new S2DT being available free, there is no reason to get a refurbished S2/S2DT. Get the free new box if that’s the unit you select.

    All of the TiVo’s provide a good picture. The S3 & HD obviously do HD which is the best. But for standard definition they’re all good. TiVo gives you four recording quality options, so you can select the level you prefer – lower quality means more recording time, higher quality means lower recording time. You didn’t have that on the DirecTiVo because DTV is all digital, so the signal was always saved ‘as-is’. But with analog signals the TiVo encodes it locally. (The S3 & HD record digital cable channels ‘as-is’, just like the DirecTiVo did.)

    Response time is pretty good, IMHO. There is some delay with the S2DT when tuning a digital channels because the TiVo needs to relay the signal to the cable box and wait for it to tune. But if you watch mostly recordings you won’t notice it. I just wouldn’t try to channel surf – but why do that with a TiVo? ;-)

    If you go wireless, be sure to use the TiVo-branded wireless adapter. It works perfectly in my experience. I currently have two Series2 TiVos using them in my home, and I used to have my Series3 using one – but I ended up running wired Ethernet to handle my PS3 and Slingbox, so I connected the S3 to the same cabling. They’ve always worked great for me. The only trouble I had was due to a failing router, hardly TiVo’s fault.

    If you have HDTV, or plan to get HDTV in the next year or two, you might take a good look at the TiVo HD or the Series3 since they have the most capabilities and are more future-proof, with HD support. But if you’re just going to use it with analog cable and/or only standard definition for the foreseeable future, then the free Series2DT deal is probably your best option.

    Remember you have 30 days to return it for your money back if you decide you don’t like it. But if you liked the DirecTiVo, I think you’ll love using one with cable. You get the features you had on DirecTV – but a hell of a lot more since DirecTV disabled so many features. Like TiVoToGo, music and photos, Amazon Unbox, TiVoCast, etc.