Perhaps the most exciting part of the Avivo launch concerns format conversion. At the moment MPEG2 is the dominant video codec used for DVD for DVB TV and by Media Center to record TV. However, there are many new devices appearing that make use of newer and more efficient file formats most of which are variants of MPEG4. There's the MPEG4 3GP format on the PSP, DiVX and XVid, AVC and Quicktime H.264 used on the new Video iPod and not forgetting WMV9. To get video content from one format to these native formats requires video conversion. Doing this requires various applications that either come with the device or can be downloaded from the Internet. However, with the new drivers ATI is offering the AVIVO Video Convertor. This is a free video conversion tool that is designed to transcode video at record breaking speeds. In benchmarks presented by ATI, the converter works around 3x faster than an encoder built-into Nero. ATI gave a working demonstration of this using two Dell XPS notebooks that were exactly the same except that one was running an nVidia GeForce 7800 GTX GO and the other a Radeon Mobility X1600. The task was to convert a 25 minute show from MPEG2 and the Radeon completed it around 4 x faster. That is seriously impressive stuff.
For me personally, something like this is very attractive. Up to now, deciding between buying ATI and nVidia's current generation has meant evaluating the benefit of a few frames per second here and there. However, if youâ€™ve got a PSP or a new iPod and you want to put video content onto them then the Radeon X1000 series solution could be saving you some serious time, which for many could be worth the trade off of a few frames per second in a particular game. Transcoding video is a chore, and anything that can make it less painful is more than welcome in my book.