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-- by Joel T. Patz
Though I was impressed by ATI's 3D Xpression card (see November 1996), I hoped for better 2-D performance. ATI has granted my wish-and then some. Its 3D Xpression+ PC2TV offers great performance and can send a video signal directly to a TV screen.
Benchmarks attest to its speed: The Xpression+, with 4MB SDRAM, instead of the base model's 2MB, completed our WINDOWS Magazine application macros in an average time of 11.6 seconds for Word and 10.6 seconds for Excel. The extra 2MB of memory supports the comfortable-to-watch display of MPEG I video in either a small window or on full screen.
The card handles resolutions up to 1600x1200 and 256 colors at a refresh rate of 60Hz, or a more practical 1280x1024 at 85Hz (at least 70Hz is needed to achieve a flicker-free picture). Xpression+ achieves (16-bit) true color at 1024x768 at up to 160Hz.
The PC2TV feature lets you use large-screen TV as your monitor. While Xpression+ supports video images between 640x480 and 800x600 pixels, higher resolutions are not supported; 320x200 is supported for DirectX applications. However, lower resolutions are all most converter boxes can handle. While the TV image is relatively free from flutter, it's fuzzy. Don't expect to read text, even large fonts, on screen.
The TV output quality needs work; however, MPEG I playback quality, good 3-D rendering and very good performance with desktop applications make the ATI Xpression+ 3D PC2TV card worth considering. It replaces its sibling, the 2MB Xpression, on the Recommended List.
Copyright (c) 1997 CMP Media Inc.