PC DVD vs. Standalone Player

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Mike*A, Dec 10, 2003.

  1. Mike*A

    Mike*A Auditioning

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    Hey everyone...first post, so be nice. [​IMG]

    I've recently built up a HTPC for my new Samsung 32" LCD TV. My question is, should the picture quality from my PC DVD-ROM player be worse, as good, or better than a standalone progressive-scan DVD player?

    I'm using:

    PowerDVD XP (came with the Samsung DVD-ROM)
    ATI Radeon 9500 Pro
    DVI connection to the TV.

    I ask because the picture quality doesn't seem that much better than how it looked on my old 27" Sony Wega TV...using a PS2 as the DVD player!

    Any thoughts would be great...thanks!

    Mike
     
  2. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    It should be MUCH better than a standalone DVD player, as long as you set the PC's resolution to be the same native resolution as your TV. Otherwise, the TV will be forced to scale the video and it will look like garbage.

    Also, be sure that you set the refresh rate of your PC's video card to 60 hertz (to avoid video tearing).

    Do you know what your TV's native resolution is?
     
  3. Mike*A

    Mike*A Auditioning

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    Thanks Max,

    The TV is 1280x768...which is what the vcard is set too (as well as 60hz).

    Do you know how the different DVD software pacakges can affect quality? I ran home over lunch and tried the ATI DVD player...and the picture seemed cleaner (not as grainy as PowerDVD).

    To be honest, I'm probably just being overly critical. But it's good to now know that I'm not missing much by not picking up a fancy new DVD player.

    - Mike
     
  4. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    I think the codecs that ATI uses is considered one of the best. Sure, the ATI player itself may suck, but the video quality should be pretty decent.

    TheaterTek's DVD player uses the same video decoders, I think.

    Video quality is completely dependent on what codecs are used, and on what custom settings you apply to them. It's also a matter of viewer taste. So, if you like ATI's decoders, than stick with them.

    One thing you should be aware of, is that badly encoded discs (ie. Universal's DVD release of Monty Python's Meaning of Life SE, or the early Canadian release of Red Violin) has a higher chance of looking worse than a standalone DVD player. Most PC DVD players read disc flags, not cadence.

    Since you're outputting native resolution, you are pretty much good to go.
     
  5. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Picture should be better, but the diff on a 32 inch probably won't be as big (my screen, at 6 foot wide, the diff is obvious).

    Better filters make better output. Ati was very well reguarded, and TT sed the same filters. Since then there ahve been some buyouts, so I don't know who is using what filters- but Theatertek is a great program, and you should check it out.

    -Vince
     
  6. Mike*A

    Mike*A Auditioning

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    Thanks again Max,

    While I've got your attention, I have one other "issue" I ran into while tinkering around last night. The Radeon 9500 I mention above was stolen out of my gaming machine to determine how well my HTPC could work....and I kinda want it back. [​IMG]

    Rest of the HTPC I put together with a 866mhz P3 and some spare parts I had laying around (the only additions being a new case, Audigy 2 ZS and Klipsch Pro Media 5.1 Ultra's).

    So, I swapped the Radeon 9500 out last night and put in an old GeForce3 w/DVI. The DVD playback worked fine (about 50% proc utilization) UNTIL I started running the sound (via SPDIF) through the Audigy 2. Then, the machine slowed to a crawl.

    So, my question is this...is a P3-866 and GeForce3 not enough horsepower to kick out smooth DVD playback and 5.1 sound or am I just doing something wrong?

    If the former is the case, should I consider replacing the processor or the video card or both? I'm tempted to just drop $140 on another Radeon 9XXX, but don't know if it will make a big difference w/o replacing the processor (and hence the mainboard, memory, etc) as well.

    - Mike

    Current specs for your reference:
    P3-866
    768MB SD133
    80GB 7200RPM HDD
    GeForce3 (pure)
    Audigy 2 ZS
    Windows XP
    PowerDVD v5 (wish I had learned about TheatreTek prior to dropping $30 on this upgrade)
     
  7. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    As far as I understand, most video decoding for DVDs is done by the CPU...the video card shouldn't make a huge difference. A certain hunk of processing is going to be done by the CPU as well, regardless of audio hardware acceleration. You should find a cheap athlon board that still uses SDRAM (to utilize your existing hunk of RAM) and a 1.1, 1.2 Athlon all for under $80-90.
     
  8. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

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    Make sure that you're just outputting sound digitally, and not decoding the sound stream. That's typically job of your receiver, not the PC. Or do you need DD decoding?

    -Christian
     
  9. Mike*A

    Mike*A Auditioning

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    As far as I know, I need the DD decoding. I output the Audigy 2 via analog directly to my Klipsch speakers...no reciever involved.
     
  10. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Then you will ahve a big load on the processor. Also, i'm not sure, but I think Power DVD does software based dvd decoding- rather than passing to mpeg engine on the ATI card- so that might also be hurting you.

    -V
     

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