RealMagic XCard Review
Posted on October 9, 2002
Sigma Designs have been in the MPEG decoding
business for several years now, producing semiconductor products
of many different flavours, for many different markets. But
it was their Hollywood Plus PCI card which brought them to
the attention of the consumer PC market. The Hollywood+ allowed
PCs to playback DVDs on a TV or Monitor in high quality, with
none of the jerkiness associated with the early software players
using lower power PCs. Sigma sold a lot of cards. But then
came TV-Out as standard on many 3D graphics cards, better
playback software, the popularity of DivX content and higher
power PCs - and the Hollywood+ had its day. If software playback
is good enough, who needs hardware?
The XCard was released earlier this year,
and upped the stakes a little. It can play back DivX content.
It has digital sound. It has progressive-scan DVD playback.
It keeps the picture in the digital domain when overlaying
a video image onto a VGA signal. And it seems ideally suited
for beefing up the video playback capabilities of a Mini-ITX
motherboard. Perhaps we should try one and find out...
the XCard to a TV
Remote and Software
XCard In Use
As well as the PCI card, you get a remote
control and receiver and a multitude of connecting cables
and adaptors in the package. The full packing list is:
Quickstart guide, PCI Card, CD containing
Drivers and Manuals, Remote Control, Remote Receiver, Component
video adapter, S-Video to Composite video adapter, VGA pass-through
cable, Audio adapter to sound card, Audio adapter cable (mini-jack
to L/R RCA connector) and a composite video cable.
The back panel of the PCI card consists of
a Line Out socket, S/PDIF Digital Out, Composite/S-Video TV
Out, VGA Out and VGA In. On the card itself are Line Out,
Digital out and Digital In connectors, and headers for an
optional SCART RGB Connector kit (requires another PCI slot)
and a Digital Video Port.
This schematic shows the placement of the