Leadtek Winfast A280 MyVIVO 7th December 2002
New from Leadtek is their GeForce4 Ti4200 card with video in/out and is marketed as a video capture solution with no compromise top of the line 3D graphics. With the addition of Leadtek's cinema unit it can be turned into a fully functional TIVO-like PVR. Here are the manufacturer's specifications:
The following diagram will give you some idea of what connectivity is offered:
There seem to be plenty of options even without the optional WinFast Cinema TV Box. What comes with the card?
You get the usual DVI connector and all the cables you need to connect to any analogue source using SVHS or Composite leads. Audio is through a sound card as with most capture cards. Also included are six demo games and some video editing software although bundled software rarely play an important part in consumer selection. Below is a photo of the card itself:
The big heatsink covers all the necessary components and extends onto the back of the card. There can be no doubt that this card is a serious 3D contender. Installation was without any problems and a utility is included to assist in over-clocking and monitoring the card. We stuck it in an Athlon XP2700 machine and ran Unreal Tournament 2003 which is the most stressing game we have until Doom 3 is released.
Flybys are largely synthetic but are easy on a CPU and give an idea of what the card can manage when left to its own devices. Botmatch figures are more important for in-game performance.
The results clearly show that this card makes UT2003 playable in all resolutions right up to 1600x1200.
This card is every bit as good as any other Ti4200 and faster in some cases as it supports AGP 8x.
Now that we have examined the 3D aspects of the card let's get to it's other main feature - video capture and time-shifting. Once the WDM drivers are installed the option to capture appears in any compatible application. This is not supported however, and we had problems with dropped frames and some standard resolutions not supported when we used AVI_IO and VirtualDub to capture. Everything was fine with the Leadtek PVR application and it even allows a picture-in-picture (PIP) mode so you can continue to see the live feed while time-shifting and vice-versa. Quality was perfectly adequate for Mpeg2 at the set compression rates although we would have preferred more output options (such as YUV) to capture in a loss-less AVI format for later processing
This latest offering from Leadtek is a pitch at the ever-increasing convergance between PCs and Home Entertainment. By not compromising 3D performance Leadtek have ensured they would not go down the route of Matrox. Picture quality is every bit as good as ATIs All-In-Wonder products while the price is attractively positioned between that of the 9000 and 9700 models. The A280 has better 3D graphics than the AIW9000 but costs a lot less than the AIW9700.. Our only gripe is about the lack of ability to capture in a loss-less format but this may be fixed in a future driver release. If you're looking for a new graphics card and don't want to fork out a lot of money for the latest Radeon then you can get the WinFAST A280 with its VIVO capabilities at a very reasonable price.
We would like to thank Leadtek UK for the review sample WinFast A280 MyVIVO LE TDH.
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.