DVD-ROM Question...

Discussion in 'Computers' started by MarcoBiscotti, Jun 25, 2005.

  1. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    I started a thread in the film forum a few minutes ago because I had some inquiries related to DVD playback on my computer but after getting some info from another member, decided to post this new topic here because it's better suited and I didn't want to go off-topic.

    Basically, I want to be able to play DVD's on my computer.

    I only have a CD-ROM and second recording drive.


    I want to know if there's any way whatsoever that I could download some sort of a virtual driver and decoding device or some kind of software for my pc that would enable my CD-ROM drive to read DVD's?


    If not, is there any way that I could install a DVD-ROM drive in place of my CD recording drive on my computer? Would it be a big deal or fairly simple and what would I be looking at, if it's even possible, in terms of cost?

    I'd really appreciate some help and info on the matter because I realised tonight that this is really important to me and I'd like to figure out how to go about making my pc compatible for movie watching.

    Afterall, I have DVI outputs and a fairly large 19" monitor with decent Bose satelite speakers which offer fairly good audio for my pc office setup.

    I just want to figure out the easiest way to go about doing this and I'm especially hoping, though I'm sure I'm out of luck, that it won't require actual physical hardware installations or modifications.

    Please enlighten me!


    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Okay, I think I might have found the solution.

    I ran a Google search for external DVD-ROM drives and found that most are available for fairly low cost.

    Than I starterd thinking, once I'm looking into purchasing an external drive to playback my movies, why not a burner also?


    And that's when I came accross the Sony DRX-710UL External Dual Layer DVD±RW Writer.

    A couple questions:


    1) Is it a safe assumption that this burner, and most available, will not only have recording capabilities but also DVD playback as well?

    2) Like with regular players for your livingroom or h.t., do external drives come with different high and low end playback and performance levels?

    3) Are some better than others in terms of quality in offering optimal resolution and image from your source? Do some work better with certain technical aspects, like handling layer changes and whatnot? Are less expensive models prone to occasional playback glicthes like with regular standalone DVD players.

    4) What would be considered a high-end top of the line external driver for both recording AND playback on a pc?

    5) What are the ranges in cost?

    6) What's most reccommended?



    THANKS SO MUCH, I REALLY APPRECIATE ANY HELP!!!
     
  3. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    I'm not sure what you mean by different playback and performance levels in stand-alone drives, so I really can't comment here. If you're talking about things like s-video or component outputs, that is not a function of the external drive, but of the outputs of the video card on the host computer. External drives are input devices that send their data to the computer, which is then responsible for displaying the content and/or passing the signals along to other devices. They can't be directly connected to a TV or sound system, for instance.

    I'm couldn't give you specific recommendations on models, etc. Your best bet is probably to go to some brick and mortar stores, look at what they have on offer, take notes and talk to the sales people (understanding that their job is sell things to you.) Also talk to other customers. Somebody who is in the store that day to buy a new monitor may be the world's greatest expert on DVD burners and be able to give you some excellent advice. Do this is a few stores and you should have created a short list of models, features and prices that you can research on the 'web and on sites like this and then make your final decision.

    Swapping out an internal DVD-burner for a CD-ROM is generally a very easy process and the instructions included with most drives are very thorough. The main thing is to get the jumper settings right. The best way to do this is check the settings on the drive it will replace, then look the drive up on the manufacturer's website to make sure you know what they mean. Then set the new drive to produce the same setting. (Sole drive on an IDE channel, master drive, slave drive, or the setting that allows the cable position to determine what the m/s relationship is. Then it will just take its place in your system, exactly substituting itself for the drive it is replacing. The rest is just a matter of reconnecting the data, power and sound cables.)

    Hope this helps.

    Joe
     
  4. Matt Wright

    Matt Wright Stunt Coordinator

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    1. yeah, a drive has to be able to understand how to read media to write it.

    2. Not really. There are cheap brands that tend to be noisy and/or fail just like any other PC component or consumer electronic device.

    3. The layer change thing I haven't noticed much while using a modern PC DVD-ROM drive. They seem to be able to buffer ahead better. About the other sub-questions: really to a PC it is all just 1's and 0's it doesn't care what the data is. So there aren't really hardware issues like you are accustomed to with standalone players. The issues mostly have to do with software, which is usually much easier to fix.

    4. A Plextor drive is considered cream of the crop, they make a top of the line 16x single-layer/4x dual-layer DVD burner in external form model PX-716UF.

    5. The Sony you found is generally liked too. Most of the other brands you will find are simply repackaging whatever random internal DVD burner is cheapest that week in an external enclosure.
     
  5. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Thank you both so much, I really appreciate your help and I'm going to head over to Future Shop this afternoon to see what's available and hopefully pick something up.

    Oh, and Jospeh - in quick response to your question:

    "Why would you want to replace your CD-burner with a read-only DVD drive? Why not replace your CD-player with a DVD-ROM or with a DVD-R/W?"


    Because according to most specs I've read online briefly last night, the models I've looked into all have CD recording capabilities as well.


    But it doesn't matter because I will be going for an external drive anyways as that seems the best way to go about it.


    Oh and last question:

    I've obviously seen pictures online but I just want to get a general idea of how large these things are? Are we talking cigar box or comp tower in terms of size?



    And thanks again for your suggestion on the Plexor Matt, I'm going to look into that right now!


    [​IMG]
     
  6. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    And according to my two seconds of research I just did, it's apparent that the Plextor PX-716UF you recommended is the way to go. From all accounts so far in the 4 or 5 reviews I've skimmed over, this piece of hardwarfe is the best on the market with the only downside being it's price. It also appears to be slightly smaller than the Sony just from comparing the pictures which is important, and looks pretty slick too.

    Thanks again guys!!!
     
  7. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    The Pioneers, the Benqs, the NECs are all fine DVD drives. Plextor is overpriced. I would not go for a Sony at this time.
     
  8. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    It does seem to be around $100 more than the other units, but from the specs and comparisons I've read online, it seems to outperform all. At least that seems to be the general concensus. If that's true, than I think it'd be worth the extra money to me. It also seems to be more compact and sleek looking which is a plus.
     
  9. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    You're being crazy, buying an external burner when you've got a perfectly useless CD-rom drive just begging to be swapped out.

    Pulling out an old CD-rom drive and pushing in a DVD-burner is in the top-two-easiest things one can do to one's computer (the other easiest thing being adding a second hard drive).

    Takes about 15 minutes. The instructions are so non-complex that they typically come on a sticker about 2 inches by 2 inches.

    Do you really want the added clutter and the added expense, and extra power cord that comes with one of those external things? Also a concern: if your computer is so old that it only came with a CD drive and a CD burner, then does it even have a Firewire input or a USB 2.0 input? If you've only got the old USB 1.0 then an external drive will not work well for you.
     
  10. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    Another forum for you to check out chatter about the burners you are looking at:


    CDFreaks (DVD too)
     
  11. Jeff Jacobson

    Jeff Jacobson Cinematographer

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    Lite-On DVD drives can be made region-free very easily.

    Videohelp.com is a good place to compare various models of DVD writers.
     
  12. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    ALL DVD burners can, of course, also burn CDs, just like they can all play and record CDs. But I'd still rather end up with a CD burner and a DVD burner than a play-only CD drive and a DVD burner when it wouldn't cost me a dime more. I do have an external because I have a need to move among several computers, but otherwise would certainly have saved myself the money, desk space, extra power connnection and additional tangle of cables and gone with an internal. This Lite-On drive measures 6 1/2" wide by 7 3/4" deep by 2" high roughly the size of a gift-edition Bible or a small dictionary.

    The point about inputs is also good. If you don't already have a fast USB 2.0 or Firewire input on the PC, you'll have to install one and factor that into your cost estimate. (And if you decide to go Firewire or want to have the future option, expect to pay a bit more for an external drive with Firewire in addition to USB 2.0.)

    BTW, if I were looking for a new drive I'd also want to look into one that supports HP's LightScribe technology. These drives allow you to invert special LightScribe-compatible discs and directly burn labels onto a disc using the laser of the burner itself. Greyscale only, of course, but very cool nonetheless.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  13. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Thanks so much everyone!


    Joseph -- could you please tell me a little bit more about this..




    Is this a large, complicated and expensive procedure? How much would I be looking at to have an updated USB port installed and is it something I can attempt to do on my own or would it require bringing the computer in for service?

    Thanks!
     
  14. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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  15. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Thanks Joe,

    I'm actually looking at an INTERNAL Plextor drive now - but wouldn't I still need to upgrade to a USB2 for optimal performance?

    Is that not as simple as purchasing a PCI card?


    I'm a little more confused now...
     
  16. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Btw, I'm hearing about IDE cables or something from another forum now which is really throwing me off...

    Is that the way to go or do I want to stick with the PCI card?

    Could you please explain what this IDE is all about and if it's the better/easier/most optimal solution?
     
  17. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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    IDE cable is what connects your hard drive/cd drive to the motherboard. That is the cable you would use with an internal dvd burner. I thought you'd have one by now [​IMG] I would buy an NEC from Newegg.com and replace your current cd drive.
     
  18. Ken Chui

    Ken Chui Supporting Actor

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    IDE (an acronym for Integrated Drive Electronics) is an interface for mass storage devices, such as hard drives, CD or DVD burners. More than likely, your PC uses an IDE interface for your hard drive and current CD burner.

    There are various bus interfaces (e.g. IDE, SCSI, RAID, SATA, etc.); the Plextor drive should work in your PC without a hitch because it's (more than likely) IDE-ready. It's a matter of unplugging the cables in your existing CD recording drive and plugging them into the Plextor drive instead. If you're using an operating system such as Windows XP, it will identify your new hardware and automatically install any applicable drivers.

    BTW, what model Plextor drive were you looking to purchase?
     
  19. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Thank you so much!


    Ken, I was initially looking at a different model but am now pretty set on the Plextor PX-716AL because of it's IDE interface. It's expensive but seems to be among the best available.


    Thanks again for all the help, I'll be watching DVD's again by tomorrow night!

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Paul E. Fox II

    Paul E. Fox II Second Unit

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    One thing you may want to do is make sure you PC is up to the task.

    I just put an Multi-Format DVD Burner into a friend's PC and it is JUST BARELY inside the limit of the "minimum requirements" for the Burner to do all the things it can do.

    While I don't mean to cloud the issue further or to confuse you at all, Processor Speed and RAM do come into play with DVD Burners and unless I missed it somewhere in your previous posts, I haven't seen any specs for your current PC.

    Again, this *May Not* be a factor but one should always make sure the equipment you getting ready to purchase will work with what you have.

    As for the other websites listed in this thread, they are GREAT resources but sometimes tend to get a bit technical so don't get too embarrassed to ask questions either here or there. From my point of view, you're more likely to get a "friendlier" response here at the HTF that other places on the net so check back often.

    Now, let's talk about that IDE cable for a sec. You should try to find out what's in the box when you order. I'm not sure you will get an IDE cable with a new DVD Drive but you might. I know they come in the "Retail" versions of Hard Drives. If you don't have one, or more importantly, think you should buy one...make sure you get one of the new ones with 80 pins. Not know how old your current PC is, you could have the older version IDE cables and for DVD playback , I believe you need the 80 pin version. I could be wrong on this point but I'm sure one of the more knowledgable members will chime in if I am.

    One last thing...when you crack open that case to install whatever you buy, you will begin a journey that is easily as infectious as HT. When I installed my first CD Burner back in 1998, I didn't know what a megabyte was and I dove in anyway. Now I love the stupid things!

    Good luck!
     

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