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ATI introduced a processor that will be on TV tuner cards to be released in July by Asus, Sapphire, MSI, Powercolor and Visiontek. It offers a few notable improvements over its predecessor, the 550 Pro, including better TV reception and higher picture quality, and it gives you PVR capabilities, too, all on one chip. The 650 is also pretty smart in the compression department, where it can now handle DivX, WMV9 and H.264, as well as the more-common MPEG2 and MPEG4 codecs. It's also able to tune both analog and digital TV.

This looks like an incremental step, but it's well-supported by the card manufacturers. But a chip like this isn't going to do you much good if you have cable TV or satellite TV. These cards are still stuck in the over-the-air broadcast mode, which is not all that useful for us. Now if these babies could somehow support CableCard, then we'll talk. But still, maybe TV watching is all headed toward downloads, codecs, files, and—shall we say it—BitTorrent, anyway.

Product page [ATI, via TG Daily]