In the Forums...
Posted: October 10, 1999
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
Estimated Retail Price: $218 US from Price Watch
One of the best features of the Voodoo3 3500 TV (and my personal favorite) is the onboard TV/FM tuner. Instead of having a separate add-on card or none at all, you can simply plug a TV antenna/cable directly into the card. Audio and video are fairly high quality, with few glitches. I noticed the screen seemed a bit blurry, but that was somewhat expected. The remote program is handy, but I prefer a separate remote like a normal cordless TV remote (wouldn't that be cool for your PC?). The V3 3500 TV also has a VCR which can be programmed to your liking, closed captioning, and all the other features you can expect on a normal TV. One thing that would have been really cool is picture-in-picture, but alas, I ask for too much... because the V3 3500 does not support this. There is, however, a "surf" feature that lets you look at several channels one at a time for a few seconds each in a small thumbnail, then the thumbnail is frozen while it moves to the next channel.
The AutoScan feature is supposed to eliminate channels that you don't have but keep all those that you do have. When I tried it out, it added several channels that I did not have but removed a lot of channels that work fine. The capturing ability isn't the best either. Here's a pic that I captured at 640x480 and resized to 512x384 (so it would fit on the page).
I really like the FM tuner. I never realized how much I would use one of these until I had it in my machine. I have one complaint though: it doesn't include an antenna! I had to make one out of an old coaxial cable. I thought FM cards usually came with antennas so this bummed me out...
Video Capture, etc.
Video/audio input and output are all available via the external A/V Control Pod. This little pod has the same style of heavy cable as the G200 Marvel. On one side it has all that you need for input: left/right audio in, composite video in, and s-video in. On the other side it has all that you need for output: left/right audio out, composite out, and s-video out.
As soon as I installed the card for the first time, I wanted to test the capture abilities. I hooked my video camera into the composite video in. First I tried capturing the video as an MPEG file but the frame rate jumped a lot and the sound stuttered. I think my 450 MHz CPU just wasn't fast enough. When I captured the video as a .AVI, it worked fine. The sound quality was excellent and the frame rate was constant. I would post a video here for you to check out, but the file sizes exceed 10 MB on even a one minute video.
I had a hard time configuring the capture port correctly. At first it would either capture my QuickCam or the TV tuner. 3dfx tech support explained how to correct this - using the TV Remote - and all was well.
The included software bundle works great for making videos. You can insert sounds and mix videos, edit, and manipulate them in all ways. If you have plenty of hard drive space to work with, this card can be a lot of fun.