|There are two obvious ways to tackle any problem, the right and the wrong way. Recently, multifunction cards have been tackled in blatantly incorrect manners, often times offering little more over the competition other than an inflated price and highly unsupported drivers. Starting off at the definition of a multifunction device and ending with a feature overview, let's find out if Matrox managed to break tradition with their newest multifunction video card, the Marvel G200-TV.|
Defining a Multifunction Device
What is a multifunction device? As the name implies, it is a device which can perform a multitude of functions. In this particular case, we'll be talking about a multifunction video device which performs not only the basic graphics acceleration tasks but also allows for numerous other options normally unavailable in a single card or even on a home PC.
Will History Repeat Itself?
The basic reason for creating a multifunction device is to have a single product, which would occupy a single expansion slot, that would excel in one or more areas giving the device the edge over the competition in its specific market. Not only does a multifunction device conserve space, the theory behind its creation states that it should also be cheaper than going out and purchasing a single card for every single function of this device.
At the most basic levels, creating a multifunction device isn't a difficult task at all, many video card manufacturers tackled this option early on by adding in TV-Output and in the case of manufacturers like Canopus, even Video Input on some of their products. The inherent problem with creating a multifunction device such as a video card is that while the card may offer excellent 2D performance for example, often times the performance and quality of some of its other features will be below average or even unacceptable for normal usage. This essentially defeats the purpose of having a multifunction video card, as an example, the Diamond Viper V550 can be classified as a multifunction video card, however, in spite of its outstanding 2D/3D performance, its TV-Output is horrible in comparison to stand alone TV-Output cards as well as other multifunction devices of its class. So in terms of actual quality, Diamond's V550 isn't that great of a multifunction video card making it a really expensive 2D/3D accelerator with an extra port on it.
There haven't been too many successes in creating a multifunction video card, one of the most recent ones has been the Canopus Total3D 128V which featured an excellent TV-Output as well as Video-Input, something which had not been done with a mainstream video card prior to Canopus' intervention in the industry. At the same time we can point out a distinctive failure, such as the ATI All in Wonder graphics card which, although it combined a number of products into a single card, refrained from excelling in a single area to the degree necessary for it to be considered a success.
Joining the list of attempts is Matrox with their Marvel G200, what makes the Marvel G200 from any other multifunction video card? Let's just say that Matrox knows what they're doing...and it shows.