McGuire on August 27, 2002
Sigma Designs Product:
for the lowest
Xcard doesn’t come with anything too
fancy in the documentation department, just a standard
installation guide which should be enough for most users.
Perhaps, Sigma Designs might want to use something a bit
more durable than plain paper (like Creative Labs do) for
this guide sometime in the future.
Installing Xcard wasn’t too much more
complicated than that of any other PCI card, with the extra
work coming from connecting the cabling to other
peripherals, which shouldn’t be too hard once you figure out
what you want – though offers more variety than the
Hollywood Plus before did, as described above. In my case I
used an S-Video cable to connect to my TV, connected the
Line-Out to the Line-In of the Audigy, connected a Coaxial
cable from the S/PDIF Output to my Extigy’s Coaxial S/PDIF
Input (So it may act as a stand-alone Dolby Digital decoder)
& also hooked up the analog pass-through cable to my GeForce
4. Finally I connected the Xcard to my monitor. Should you
want to use the Remote Control you’ll need to connect that
to an available Serial Port, though these are becoming less
common these days (With the move away from legacy interfaces
to newer ones like USB).
All I needed to do now was power on the
PC. I downloaded the latest drivers and applications from
Sigma Designs and installed them both without issue. One
minor enough thing worth pointing out is the Xcard bundle
comes with a driver disk for the Remote Control, though this
isn’t actually needed at all, the Xcard drivers/application
provide support for it.
Intended as a complete entertainment
package Xcard comes bundled with a Remote Control as well.
Essentially the same as that available for the Hollywood
Plus though rather than requiring a separate Driver it’s
install along with Xmedia Player & also loaded along with
Xmedia Player, a nice improvement compared to the Hollywood
Plus. Though slightly larger in shape, about the same weight
and with a better positioning of buttons, e.g. navigation &
playback buttons moved to the bottom, rather than the old
top & middle positioning of the previous Remote Control. As
mentioned earlier a Driver install disk for the Remote was
also needlessly provided.
As you could expect the Xcard supports
all the usual copy/playback protection features you could
expect with a DVD decoder, e.g. Macrovision, regional
protection, etc. Annoyingly enough for those with a HDTV is
that with such protection schemes Component (YPbPr)
to such TVs is limited to 480i, 576i & 480p despite Xcard
supporting up to 1080i.
Zone Selector however you can adjust at will the region
to use for DVD playback & also disable Macrovision
support, which will also allow 1080i output – reportedly
excellent according to those who’ve tried it, though I’ve no
Other than that using the Xmedia Player
setup you can change the Region to use several times (Once
per region only). Those of you with Region locked DVD drives
however won’t have access to this functionality (Not that
you should need it of course) & it will be set to that
The copy-protection features also make it
impossible to take images of DVDs using the screen capture
feature in Xmedia Player – though disabling
Macrovision should make this possible, however never Drivers
seem to have broken this capability, as such there’ll be few
screenshots in this review.
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