WinDVD 4.0, PowerDVD 4.0, SoftDVDMax, TheaterTek, ATI Player - What to buy / use????

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Javier_Huerta, Aug 3, 2002.

  1. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Hi all,
    As you can see, I'm very confused.
    There are lots of different options out there for building an HTPC. I already have the hardware in place, yet I can't seem to be able to decide upon the major DVD software solutions.
    I'm simply confused! [​IMG]
    I'm looking for Dolby Digital / DTS (if possible) compatibility, multiple aspect ratios and ease of use. But mainly I want the best video I can buy for my dollar. Actually, that's all I want. Since I'll be using a DVI interface and a DLP projector, I'll use my PC as a dedicated DVD player and I won't settle for less than jaw-dropping video.
    Help, please? [​IMG]
    My system's specs:
    PII @ 450 Mhz
    384 MB RAM
    Windows XP Professional
    ATI RADEON 7500 All-in-one
    Turtle Beach Santa Cruz soundcard
    DVD-ROM, CD burner, Zip drive
    DVI interface
    Infocus DLP340 projector
    Thanks!
     
  2. Ken Garrison

    Ken Garrison Supporting Actor

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    Power DVD!!!! P2 450, eh? Uh, that's kinda weak for DVD playback. It played alright when I had my Celeron 366 @ 458 chip before I upgraded to a P3 1 GHZ chip. With the Celeron, sometimes it wouldn't run so smoothly. I suggest you have a P3 800 or better for DVD playback. I use my computer with the TV OUT thing on my Geforce and it works pretty good. Power DVD is a very good program. It's even go Pro Logic 2, which sucks on music. It don't do it right on music files. But on MPEGs and stuff, it works great. I've tried the DTS. It was pretty cool. I got 4 channal output on my SB LIVE Card. I just hooked up a set of speakers to the rear output to try it out.
     
  3. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    I hoped I had a "baseline" system with the 450, but I've been thinking about buying a new motherboard and CPU (maybe a P4 @ 1.7GHz). I was just planning on not spending any money if I don't have to (besides, I imagine that if I switch off all graphical enhancements, services and the like, WinXP might run fine at that speed).
    I wouldn't want to use the TV Out, since I wouldn't be taking advantage of all the benefits of the DVI output (non-interlaced video, digital quality, etc.).
    I won't be able to test my PC's speed until later next week, since it's my sister's computer, and she's basically giving it away (she's moving).
    I surely hope 450 is all I need [​IMG]
     
  4. TyC

    TyC Stunt Coordinator

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    I recommend the Sigma Designs REALmagic XCard for hardware decoding. It supports multiple aspect ratios, includes S/PDIF out for DD and DTS, and includes a remote control. For video output, it offers:
    • Component video (YPbPr)
    • Composite video
    • S-Video
    • SCART RGB (optional)
    The video output can be progressive or interlaced, NTSC or PAL.
    However, DVI is not supported.
     
  5. Andre F

    Andre F Screenwriter

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    I just got PowerDVD free with my new rig and I like it so far. However, I'm no expert when it comes to DVD playback. I got it more for upcoming data based applications mostly.
    -Andre F
     
  6. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    A hardware solution is out of the question, since I already bought the RADEON 7500 and the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz based on reviews on the Internet. It seems this solution is all I need to beat a Faroudja line doubler / excellent DVD player solution.

    It would be a lot more cost effective to replace my motherboard / CPU if I need to, since maybe I'll also use my HTPC as a firewall / proxy server for my Internet connection.
     
  7. Steve_Ch

    Steve_Ch Supporting Actor

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    PII 450 is fine, unless you want to run other apps concurrently. For a dedicated DVD play, anything Pentium over 400 is reasonably safe.

    Steve

    PowerDVD
    PowerDVD XP
    WinDVD
    SoftDVD
    Mediamatics W98
    Mediamatics W2000
    Margi DVD-to-Go
    Quandrant Cinemaster
    on:
    PII 333, PIII 500, PIII 600, P4 1.7G, Neomagin, Diamond, NVIDIA, ATI.
     
  8. Gary King

    Gary King Second Unit

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    I'm currently using WinDVD 4.0XP in my HTPC (previously had PowerDVD 3.0). I don't have any complaints -- the video quality is excellent, the interface is responsive and intuitive, and it's easy to configure.

    Of course, the same could probably be said for PowerDVD -- there probably won't be much difference between the two anymore... I haven't done any A/B tests since my software/hardware upgrade, but I don't notice any real image differences between PowerDVD 3 and WinDVD 4.
     
  9. Dave_Olds

    Dave_Olds Stunt Coordinator

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    I would get PowerDVD (well, I did anyways[​IMG] ) Then get Zoom Player (free @ www.inmatrix.com)
    Zoom player is powerful, free front end DVD player that uses filters & CODECs from other DVD players....You can couple the Ravisent Video filter (considered the best) from your ATI 7500 DVD player and the Audio from PowerDVD XP4.0 (considered the best)....
    BUT, in reality, you could just download Zoom player and use the Cinemaster Ravisent filter from your ATI DVD player and get both excellent video and fine audio for FREE.
    I checked it out prior to a reinstall and Zoom works fine with the ATI DVD as a stand alone - it will pass DD/DTS just fine via your digital out.....If you have any questions, email me and I will get you pointed in the right direction...
    I would tend to believe you are underpowered processing wise - but worth a shot to try it and see how it pans out and upgrade later if needed....
     
  10. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Dave, thank you so very much for your help - it seems I'll get Zoom player!

    I tried PowerDVD XP4.0 yesterday in my even more underpowered laptop (PII @300 MHz). It has a Luxsonor DVD decoder card, but its quality is way beyond mediocre. At first, video was very choppy. After updating the drivers and switching off all unnecessary services and graphical enhancements, PowerDVD detected my ATI RAGE card, I switched on hardware acceleration, and video was very smooth afterwards (and detailed).

    I guess I'll buy PowerDVD XP4.0, install the ATI player I got with the Radeon and mix them using Zoom player.

    Thanks a lot for your help! I hope it's not much of a problem if I e-mail you in case I find any problems.

    Javier.
     
  11. Dave_Olds

    Dave_Olds Stunt Coordinator

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    No problems at all....Feel free, I know help was invaluable to me to getting my system setup and yours is very similar to mine....
    I also have the 7500 AIW, Windows XP, a Cmedia based sound card feeding digital out to an amplifier and the video feed to my projector....
    I have also been able to get both OTA TV stations on satellite feeds to my projector with the 7500AIW - so, if you decide to pursue that option, I may be able to help as well [​IMG]
     
  12. Mike_G

    Mike_G Screenwriter

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    PowerDVD. It's the only app that lets me playback trailers in the order I want before the movie starts. No other app allows me to do that so far as I know.

    Mike
     
  13. Dave_Olds

    Dave_Olds Stunt Coordinator

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  14. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Dave, thanks again for your help. My system is up and running now (yes, 450 Mhz was more than enough *after* optimizing XP). I installed PowerDVD, the ATI player, updated every driver up to its latest revision (I got the Catalyst ATI drivers - they seem to rock) and tested it.
    I can't say how much better, sharper, rock-steadier, nicer, etc. the image is. It turned my DLP projector into a film-like experience. Thanks for your tips!
    Now, the only issues I'm facing are...
    1) The ATI player won't output a DTS signal through my Santa Cruz audio card.
    2) The Zoom player won't, either! Even when selecting the PowerDVD audio filters (I think I selecter DirectSound output with Cinemaster video).
    3) PowerDVD is the jack of all trades; does everything right.
    Thanks again. And I'd recommend anyone with a spare PC to try this stuff. The difference is incredible. [​IMG]
    EDIT: BTW, where did you get the THX and Dolby trailers? Sounds interesting!
     
  15. Dave_Olds

    Dave_Olds Stunt Coordinator

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    Admin Note - Link to VOBs delete - do not repost. They are considered bootleg material, and not tolerated on this forum.
    DTS - uh-oh...Are you getting it done with PowerDVD? if not, What version of PowerDVD? I believe only the Deluxe version will pass DTS.....But you might be able to get it done using the Cinemaster audio filter in Zoom Player....I have never gotten anywhere with the ATI player, so I cant really help there....
    If it happens to pass DTS with PowerDVD but not Zoom player - look to see if there is an audio filter with your cards name in it....That will ALWAYS be the best choice for audio....Otherwise, you will have to build a graph for it....All the info and tools to do that are on the inmatrix.com site - again - everything is free....
     
  16. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Dave, thanks for trying to post the links. Such a shame Dolby / THX / DTS won't release them in DVD!

    Anyway, yes, I got the Deluxe version of PowerDVD, and indeed, it passes DTS without a problem. I don't think the ATI player can pass it, either through the Radeon's coax output or through the Santa Cruz interface. I'll try to look for the filter in Zoom. I loved that little player.

    And again, I can't stress enough how much better the image is when using an HTPC. Even my laptop's puny Rage 128 output looks a lot better than my player's S-Video out.
     
  17. Dave E H

    Dave E H Supporting Actor

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    Power DVD 4.0 XP ? I've got WinDVD and don't really like it. It seems to skip a lot more on my laptop (P3-800 w/ powerstep, so it's like a P3-500 on the road.) Will this help?

    I guess I could download the trial & find out.
     
  18. Dave_Olds

    Dave_Olds Stunt Coordinator

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  19. Dave_Olds

    Dave_Olds Stunt Coordinator

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  20. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    Dave E, have you tried switching on hardware acceleration under WinDVD? I own a PII @ 300, and video is smooth when using the accelerated features of my Rage Pro LT.
     

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