Sapphire announces HD 5570 XtendTV board

Graphics card giant Sapphire Technology has announced its latest Radeon board, but this one comes with a twist: a built-in digital TV tuner that can stream programmes to you wherever you are in the world.

The Sapphire Radeon HD 5570 XtendTV card is, at its heart, a fairly sedate twist on AMD's reference design. A single-slot cooler keeps the size down - important for media centre PCs, which are often packed into crammed cases - while the mid-range GPU is paired with a reasonably generous 1GB of GDDR5 memory.

As with most Radeon cards, HDMI and DVI outputs are included as standard - although you won't find support for mini DisplayPort or AMD's Eyefinity multi-monitor solution in this particular model.

To make up for that lack, the company has teamed with Mirics to bring the company's FlexiTV and FlexiStream products to the mainstream, adding a TV tuner and some clever streaming capabilitites to the card.

The TV tuner section of the board allows reception of DVB-T digital TV and radio signals - Freeview, in other words - with a standard antenna. By linking the decoding hardware in with the GPU's stream processors, Sapphire has kept the component count down and the performance up - but that's not the only trick the card has up its sleeve.

Using the company's XtendTV client, the Freeview broadcasts can be watched anywhere in the world from any PC or laptop. Just leave your media centre box switched on, fire up your client software, and the channel of your choice is encoded, compressed, and streamed across the Internet for free.

The company has also hinted that mobile apps are in development, which would allow access to the XtendTV stream from smartphones. Sadly, there's no indication of when these facilities will be available.

If you're an avid gamer, there are certainly better cards on the market. If you're a TV buff who spends a lot of time away from home, however, the Sapphire HD 5570 XtendTV certainly sounds like it's worth a look.

The card officially launches today, although Sapphire has yet to confirm UK pricing.