TV-out isn't usually covered in reviews and I couldn't understand why it was useful considering my previous dealings with this feature. I had hooked one of my TV's to a GeForce4 a while back and had to rely on the open source project DScalar to get it to work. Unfortunately, the picture quality wasn't very good. I had basically wrapped up this review, but thought it would be a good idea to cover TV-out on the Parhelia to see where things stood compared to my last experience.
Matrox exposes TV-out functionality via the PowerDesk utility. In fact, it's no different than choosing a display configuration. Let's take a look at the interface.
PowerDesk Multi-Display Panel
As you can see, I have selected a mode that:
Allows two displays
Sets stretched mode
Sets the third display to a feature display
When using TV-out, you'll have to change the physical connections on the graphics card itself. By doing so, PowerDesk will automatically adjust the display settings accordingly. Matrox includes a TV-out adapter that is used as an attachment to the dual-monitor cable. Here's a diagram from the PowerDesk Help feature.
Again, just to be clear what you're looking at in this photograph. The primary display is connected to DVI "A" and the dual-monitor cable is connected to DVI "B". From the dual-monitor cable, you would connect a secondary display to connector "1" and the TV-out adapter to connector "2". From here, you have a choice based on the available connection on the TV. In this case, my TV doesn't have an S-Video adapter, but a standard composite connector in which case I routed a 12' video cable from the TV to the composite connector on the TV-out adapter.
I've covered how to configure the hardware and software to support TV-out, but how does it look? In short, the picture quality is a definite improvement compared to my experience with a GeForce4 and I even moved one of our TV's into the computer office. Not that a digital photograph is terribly meaningful, but here's a screenshot for you to check out.
Yes, that would be Lumberg from one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time, "Office Space."
I also experimented with a variety of TV-out configurations.
DVD - I played a DVD that was routed to the TV via DVDMax and the quality was significantly better than the GeForce4. This configuration is a viable setup with the Parhelia.
Desktop - When cinfiguring the display for clone mode, the TV mimics whatever is displayed on the desktop. As far as the desktop display, the overall quality was very good, but text was difficult to read, which may have been due to the TV. Games work as advertised and looked great.
Cable - I have an older WinTV PCI card for viewing cable TV and with DVDMax was able to dump cable output to the TV.