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The User Interface

As I said in the Beta Preview of the ATI 4.0 player, the ATI interface is the diamond of DVD Interface panels. No, its not beautiful and valuable, it simply lasts forever without changing.

Normally we think that lasting forever might be a good thing, and in past reviews I said the ATI panel was adequate in most respects. A lot has changed in the PC-DVD world, and I can no longer be quite as generous in the appraisals.

All the basic control features such as PLAY, PAUSE, FF/RW, VOLUME, and CHAPTER buttons are available on the main panel along with some extended controls and a TIME-SLIDER seek bar. The problem is that you cannot SEE the main panel in Fullscreen mode. You are limited to a small fixed button panel with just a few basic controls. I should note that the Chapter selection menu is an archaic thing, very unfriendly looking and difficult to use if you are unfamiliar with the chapter setup of the movie being viewed.

There is no Time-Slider access from fullscreen, no chapter menu, and no extended controls. Nearly every major player available (Including the Cinemaster 2000 player ATI's player is based on) allows the main panel and full controls to be viewed and/or used during fullscreen playback.

I was once a fan of ATI's Time-Slider control. Going back 2 or 3 years, ATI's Time-Slider worked smoother than most, and was easier to grab and use. That was then, this is now. Newer players like the recently reviewed CoolDVD v2.1 have Time- Sliders far superior to ATI's. Since the Time-Slider is the fastest and easiest way to move around within a movie, good Time-Slider operation is important! ATI's slider works adequately, but it is a Drag-Only slider and exact positioning with it is difficult. Clicking NEAR the slider gives a random jump of 4-10 minutes of movie time that is annoying. CoolDVD has made the entire slider bar an active seek zone so you can seek without having to grab the slider itself. Some next generation players may offer a Video-Active slider, so you can see movie scenes move past as the slider is moved. With advances like that, ATI's slider now ranks average at best, but falling fast as competitors raise the bar.

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