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ATI and nVidia Crush High-End DVD Players 280

Posted by Zonk
from the nvidia-smash dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Hardware.Info compared the video quality of ATI and nVidia video cards containing Avivo / PureVideo technology with 12 stand alone DVD players, varying in price from $200 to over $2000. The conclusion? 'There is no need to invest $2000 or more in a high-end DVD player. A PC with a recent graphics card will produce a much better result for a lot less money. When looking at the final scores of the HQV test, both ATI and nVidia graphics cards perform a lot better than any DVD player we have tested. We would go as far as to say to get rid of your DVD player and connect a media centre PC to your LCD television!'"
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ATI and nVidia Crush High-End DVD Players

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  • Crushed? (Score:5, Funny)

    by SvetBeard (922070) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:26PM (#16024700)
    Damn, those heatsinks are just getting too big!
  • Uhm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ranton (36917) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:27PM (#16024711)
    We would go as far as to say to get rid of your DVD player and connect a media centre PC to your LCD television!'"

    Well, not all of us would buy a $2000 DVD player. I still cannot see the reason to buy anything more expensive than the $250 one I have at home. What do these multi-thousand dollar DVD players do anyway?

    --
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      My DVD player costs $55 and it produces images of the same quality of the more commom $150 ones.
      • Inexpensive video players at the extreme low end are often much flimsier than their more expensive cousins. I had a $50 Panasonic DVD-S35 player that died after 18 months [blogspot.com]. When I looked for info on line about this failure, I found many Amazon reviews reporting the same problem - total failure after 12-18 months.

        I opened the Panasonic up in an attempt to fix it, and found the design used the flimsiest of components. It was a testament to their engineers that they could get even 18 months out of the parts t

      • I know what you mean, the $45 walmart DVD player I bought like 3 years ago is much better and much more reliable than any of my other dvd players (which all cost from $75 to about $250)
    • Re:Uhm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zlogic (892404) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:36PM (#16024779)
      Mine cost me something like $20-$30. Works perfectly, plays everything from DVDs (all regions!) to mp3s and jpegs and has Scart, RCA, VGA video output. And 5.1 (or maybe even 7.1!) sound output.
      The only thing I don't like is that the remote control isn't really easy to use for tasks other than play/pause/menu navigation.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gmb61 (815164)
        The article is referring to only one thing: picture quality. And unless you've got a decent HDTV with DVI/HDMI inputs that can do at least 720p, you are not going to see any difference between a $20 DVD player and a high-end HTPC.

        My HTPC is connected to my DLP HDTV via DVI and the picture is so amazing that it looks almost three-dimensional (and this is with an ancient ATI Radeon 8500 card).
    • Re:Uhm (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:36PM (#16024781)
      They separate the gullible from their money. That is what they do for $2000.
    • by monopole (44023)
      I still use my Reel Magic DVD decoder card. Bulletproof, great interpolation, 5.1 SPDIF output, support for remotes.
    • by NetJunkie (56134)
      Picture quality. If the rest of your setup is up to the standard you'll see the difference. Back when the standard DVD player was a $250 Toshiba I got a $750 Pioneer Elite (grey market). My wife noticed the change right away. Better color reproduction. Far fewer artifacts. Better blacks...etc. Now, that was a couple of years ago. Even a cheap player today is probably the same as my Pioneer, but TVs have also gotten better. I have a cheap LG upconvert DVD player on one TV at home. I bet a $2K upcon
    • by evilviper (135110)
      What do these multi-thousand dollar DVD players do anyway?

      Well they are SUPPOSED to do a wonderful job at motion-adaptive deinterlacing, and 3:2 pulldown reversal.

      Not to mention having high-end video chips that have more accurate color reproduction, prevent aliasing artifacts, etc.

    • They have one really important thing. Sound. The higher end units have much better isolated power supplies and better designed analog audio and analog video outputs. In lower end home theaters, the dvd player will also be the music CD transport. These same high end DVD players have up-sampling for audio CD and support for SACD formats. SACD itself is only permitted to be transmitted digitally in one or two proprietary systems, which usually means that you will most likely be using the analog outputs, which
    • by saskboy (600063)
      I've had for the last year a 17" LCD monitor, on an ATI Radeon 8500DV with a DVD-+RW drive and have seen no reason to buy an expensive DVD player. Do the expensive players find a way to skip over pathetic ads and FBI warnings, or play discs from any region to make them worthwhile?
  • No shit! (Score:3, Informative)

    by legoburner (702695) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:30PM (#16024732) Homepage Journal
    When I first put in my mythtv box, the quality difference was immense. Even on live TV there is decent upsampling by the software and hardware (nvidia) which is very obviously higher quality than an untouched broadcast. DVD is upsampled to a very pleasing level and because of this the myth box has been my primary DVD player since it was first installed. The TV is a 30" Medion with a DVI input (basically a large monitor) with 1280 * 768 resolution.
  • How loud are they? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rishistar (662278) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:31PM (#16024749) Homepage
    The fan on that ATI card looks loud.... I think the DVD player would be quieter.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mongre26 (999481)
      The stock fans on video cards are no more impressive than the stock fans that come with CPUs from AMD and Intel. If you want quiet then you get an after market fan like those from Zalman. Not only are they a lot quieter they are often a lot better at cooling. I retrofitted several machines at work and at home with the Zalman VF900-Cu LED and fan noise was nearly eliminated while at the same time overall the GPU temps drop. The stock fan at home on my ATI X850 XTPE could not keep my GPU from overheating and
    • Very very loud (Score:3, Informative)

      by Moraelin (679338)
      I'm the "proud" owner of an X1900XTX and let me just say they're very very very loud.

      It's hard to explain what's stupidly wrong with the design without needing drawings, so bear with me. Let's just say that as the turbine sucks air from one side (as opposed to above and below) and blows it out the other, this necessarily creates a narrowed bottleneck in the airflow. The air can only enter a centrifugal turbine from above or below, so that incoming airflow has to be narrowed into a duct going under the turbi
    • by BFaucet (635036)
      As is stated in the article
      "Picking a slower graphics card for a media centre PC offers more advantages than just the price; the X1300 and X1600 some in a passively cooled variety, the X1800 and X1900 cards do not. This is the same for the nVidia 7300 and 7600, both are available as a fan less card."

      Keep in mind video cards these days are designed to crunch huge texture maps with anisotrophic filtering and apply it to hundreds of thousands of anti-aliased polygons while calculating stencil shadows, vertex s
    • Use the MacMini as a DVD jukebox [modmini.com] (it's easy enough to make in a normal DVD player, so why stop there?), and don't forget it also runs MythTV's front end easily, and comes with a remote (and receiver) built in and FrontRow (easy access to pictures, music, movies via an interface designed to be used on a TV).

      Yes, it also does DVI out as well as optical out (and S-svideo), and happens to be cheaper than a $2,000 DVD player (about $1,500). All you need to do is go spend some of that saved money on a bluetooth
  • by wwiiol_toofless (991717) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:32PM (#16024763)
    Maybe I should just drive the "Information Superhighway" to buy a frickin "Laser". Seriously though, the thought of adding more cables to my computer desk, which already looks like an e-pubis, makes me wanna cry.
  • by zymano (581466)
    time for a networking home server ?

  • $2000 DVD Players (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:36PM (#16024785)
    The people who buy the $2000 DVD players are the same people that buy gold plated connectors and cut their speaker wires to identical lengths so the "electrons travel the same distance which improves the sound quality". That means: these people are morons. Morons cannot be stopped.
    • by masklinn (823351) <{slashdot.org} {at} {masklinn.net}> on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:53PM (#16024916)

      Yes they can, but the universe will fire back by creating bigger morons next generation.

      The issue here is that humanity has separated itself from the good ol' natural selection, thus morons don't get booted out of the gene pool anymore.

      Worse, so few morons die that we actually have to give them awards [darwinawards.com] to try and get other morons to follow suit!

      • by Kjella (173770)
        The issue here is that humanity has separated itself from the good ol' natural selection, thus morons don't get booted out of the gene pool anymore.

        Well, if you took a statistical sample, I imagine you'd find that intelligence is the way to get booted out of the gene pool, though it's a nice abuse of statistics. Why? Because most of those scoring high on the IQ test have a good education, which is found mostly in rich countries, which generally have low birthrates. In any case your argument is counter-intui
      • by evilviper (135110)
        Worse, so few morons die that we actually have to give them awards [darwinawards.com] to try and get other morons to follow suit!

        Ah yes, the Darwin Awards. The people issuing them, and the people that believe the stories, are the REAL morons.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by HangingChad (677530)

      Morons cannot be stopped.

      But they can cheat their way into elected office...

    • by glsunder (241984)
      actually, I think the speaker cable length thing is so the resistance is identical, not that 16 gauge wire would have much resistance at 10' long. An extra 10 feet of 24 gauge wire could matter, but I don't think many people would use such small wire.

      I'd say my $35 dvd player works just fine. It even supports divx and progressive scan.
    • good wire article (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Sometimes top shelf hardware IS worth it. While I'm not big on watching the teevee I do like music. Let me tell you, a few hundred dollars for a good set of headphones is well worth the cost and if you honestly think that a set of 40 dollar "headphones" (yeah, I am being a snob about it, thanks for asking) from Best Buy can take on a good set of (real) Sennheisers just bring it on... : )

      Seriously, I can't speak for the video crowd but I have never felt bad about putting out the additional cash for g
    • by Malc (1751)
      I didn't even know that you could buy a $2000 DVD player. Even the new HD DVD & BD players cost less than half that.
  • by GodWasAnAlien (206300) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:36PM (#16024786)
    If you are really looking for a multimedia experience, and audio/video quality is important, the first step is getting rid of all the fans.

    All that is needed is a "blank multimedia" box for $200, that has DVI/HDMI and S/PDIF, with no moving parts except for the DVD drive.

    Then you plop in the Open???Player (vlc based?) CD/DVD/USB and it updates the internal flash to create/update your player to the latest codecs. Or perhaps internal flash is not needed, and the root disc is USB flash.
    • Get a MacMini. $500 -- built in IR/remote, bluetooth for wireless keyboard/mice, DVI, S-video, multiple USB ports, gigE, wifi, optical audio out, etc.

      If you really want to make it more silent (even though they're quiet), you could disconnect the power on the onboard HD and have it boot via network, although I haven't experimented with that. The MacMini is far quieter than the Xbox Media Centre it replaced, and much more capable of decoding higher-resolution movies.

      Yes, the software will autoupdate itself.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      If you are really looking for a multimedia experience, and audio/video quality is important, the first step is getting rid of all the fans.

      Not at all. A $20 investment in some decent fans, and you won't hear them unless your ear is pressed up against the case. Put it in your multimedia cabinet with other components, and you're set. The DVD drive is going to be far louder than anything else.

      Recent hard drives don't have the high-pitched whine they used-to. The only noise you get now is from the heads see

  • Practicality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by COMON$ (806135) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:38PM (#16024799) Journal
    Why buy expensive when you can build for cheaper? Wow, never heard that question before.

    Seriously people, if you have the cash for a 2K 1K or even a $500 player you probably dont feel like building one. There are an enourmous amound of benefits to getting a pre-built expensive DVD player, reliability being just one factor.

    Before I get a lot of posts telling my of the uptime and reliability of their MythTV box, dont forget that you have to build the thing or hire someone to build it for you if your are not a Linux Geek. Even with Media Center Edition you are still dumping 1300 into hardware and inviting a ton of issues into your multimedia system. Unless of course you love hearing that windows error Dong in full Dolby surround sound.

    • Seriously... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gruneun (261463)
      I don't know why everyone buys these fancy toasters! Especially, those people who already have a radiator on the back of their fridge that gets plenty hot. For less than $20, you can make a plywood platform that allows your fridge to swivel and then attach a wire bracket to hold the bread against it. If you're the least bit technical, you could rig a digital thermometer to the serial port on an old 486 motherboard (who doesn't have twelve of these sitting in a closet?) to email or page you when the toast
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by eddy (18759)

      Seriously people, if you have the cash for a 2K 1K or even a $500 player you probably dont feel like building one.

      If you pay $2000 for a standalone DVD-player you probably DO expect it to be competitive in image quality though.

  • by ClosedSource (238333) * on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:39PM (#16024800)
    "We would go as far as to say to get rid of your DVD player and connect a media centre PC to your LCD television!'"

    If you're single and live studio apartment, this might make good economic sense if you really need high end graphics. You can just connect the PC to the TV and continue to use the PC for other purposes.

    But in a typical family environment that media centre PC will have to be dedicated to entertainment purposes, so the real price comparison is the cost of the media PC + the graphics card vs. the high end DVD player. Then the comparison doesn't turn out to be that one-sided.
    • by Chazmyrr (145612) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:56PM (#16024951)
      If you're cheap like I am, the comparison is extremely one-sided the other way. $50 DVD player vs. $500 media PC.
      • The $500 MacMini does a lot more than [modmini.com] a $50 DVD player (MythTV front end, Frontrow + remote, gigE/wifi, bluetooth, StepMania, other emulated games, etc).

        Yes, it's 10x the price, but you get at least 10x the features, with the only limit being what a computer can do.
    • by evilviper (135110)
      so the real price comparison is the cost of the media PC + the graphics card vs. the high end DVD player.

      Gee... A $300 computer vs. a $4000 high-end DVD player...

      You're right, it's a much tougher call that way. Particularly since the computer can play digital videos of any kind, from any source, and not just DVDs.
      • $300 for a media center PC sounds like a great deal. Do you have a link to where I can buy one at that price?

        Realistically I think we're talking about a $1000-$2000 media center PC vs. $1000-$2000 high-end DVD player.
        • by cowbutt (21077)
          $300 for a media center PC sounds like a great deal. Do you have a link to where I can buy one at that price?

          Realistically I think we're talking about a $1000-$2000 media center PC vs. $1000-$2000 high-end DVD player.

          My MythTV box is only a 256MB DDR/64MB nVidia MX440/Celeron 1.7 that used to be my 'scratch' machine (it wasn't getting used much, so I repurposed it). That machine cost about 300 GBP to build in 2002, but you could probably buy a low-end Dell for 200 GBP today that would be better. To it,

    • Are we starting from scratch for this comparison? If so, then in my house it would go something like this:

      A) HDTV dual-tuner Media Center PC w/1TB RAID + 600GB non-RAID storage, $1900

      B) DVD Player +
      HD PVR Equipment & Monthly Subscription +
      CD Player / Recorder +
      AM/FM Tuner +
      (Many things simply not practical or available as individual components) = $???

      Besides that, we get a lot of added conveniences out of going the P
  • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:43PM (#16024837) Homepage Journal
    I am not very impressed with the usability of any media center PC that I have used, regardless of OS. A good DVD player just works, doesn't crash, doesn't have fans and doesn't take more than a few seconds to start spinning a disc from power on. Doing that with an HTPC is not easy. HTPCs have their strengths but I'm not convinced that ease of setup and usability are among them.
  • Eh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:46PM (#16024864) Journal
    This is all moot anyways. Most people aren't going to buy a media PC for a significantly higher cost than a DVD player. Mine costs 60 bucks and will play divx/xvid.

    This test would have been a bit more relevant if they had told us what hardware the PC was using and/or had tested older graphics cards. I'd consider doing this with an old computer, but wouldn't shell out new money on it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mongre26 (999481)
      No of course they aren't if a media PC just played DVD players, but it does a whole lot more than that doesn't it?

      First of all I assume that you have a 480i TV, or if you are lucky a 480p CRT. If that is all you have for a display of course the $60 is plenty for a DVD player. In fact if all you have is an standard TV then I would say you over paid for that DVD player. Amazon has players with decent features at less than $30.

      However if you have a 720p 42-60in Plasma/LCD/DLP or a 1080p 60in+ then you will pr
    • by darkonc (47285)

      This is all moot anyways. Most people aren't going to buy a media PC for a significantly higher cost than a DVD player.

      True, but this article is talking to people who are willing to pay up to $2,000 for a DVD player... Compare that to what you can have someone custom-build for you for $1,000-$1,500 with one of these cards in it.. sound-dampening fans, time-shifting, 500gB of disk....

      Yes, it'll take more power, but -- once again -- we're talking to people who won't blink at the extra $20/month, even if

  • "Conclusion" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eddy (18759) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:47PM (#16024869) Homepage Journal

    "Final scores

    The total score for nVidia ends up being 93, where the total ATI score is 118. Both scores [hometheaterblog.com] [ed.] are extremely high, considering the score of the most best performing DVD player we tested (the Marantz DV6600) was only 63. The majority of the standalone players we used did not score more than 40 points in the test. The most expensive ones, the Denon DVD-3910 and Marantz DV9600 scored only 58 and 61 points.

    For European readers the cadence tests are not of real importance, so we only take the first eight tests into consideration. The score then is slightly different, nVidia scored 58 in these tests, where as ATI scored 53. A pretty close result, and the slight advantage for nVidia is mainly due to the excellent PureVideo performance in the detail tests.

    [score matrix breakdown omitted]"

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by xigxag (167441)
      Final scores

      Thanks. I tried to RTFA, but "Slashdot and Readers Crush Low-End Website."
    • Might aswell as I have the page up...

      Denon DVD-1920 (58)
      Denon DVD-3910 (58)
      Marantz DV6600 (63)
      Marantz DV9600 (61)
      Panasonic DVD-S97 (68)
      Philips DVP 5900 (35)
      Philips DVP 9000S (53)
      Pioneer DV-989AVi (59)
      Samsung DVD-HD850 (30)
      Samsung DVD-HD950 (30)
      Sony DVP-NS92V (35)
      Yamaha DVD-S2500 (53)

      Hope I matched those up right...

    • Other than the cadence section, I didn't really find any direct comparisons of de-interlacing quality from the review. One feature that's particularly interesting on high-end stand-alone DVD players is DCDi, which is some nice looking adaptive de-interlacing method. It looks like nVidia's PureVideo has some smart de-interlacing method in its decoder, but how does that compare to DCDi?
    • by kidgenius (704962)
      Here's my problem with this. They use the same 130 point test as Audioholics, but the Audioholics scores are higher in some instances (where a direct comparison exists). I don't know much about "Hardware Info", but Audioholics is fairly well known. HW-INFO Audioholics Denon DVD-3910 (58) (75) Panasonic DVD-S97 (68) (85)
  • Is any of this fancy pants video processing capability usuable under linux? It had better be, after all the PR about how nvidia's drivers share around 98% of their code between the windows and linux versions.

    I've had enough problems with bugs in their linux drivers (demonstrably broken dual-channel dvi configuration), that I could have fixed with access to source code, that I expect something for having to put up with their BS. If they can't even make the video processing available under linux, I might a
    • I've generally been really happy with nVidia, but now the GLX extension reliably crashes X.org. I have to either disable it or use 'blank screensaver', because my screensaver kills my session every time I leave my computer for a few minutes. It's a newish card (I forget the model right now, but it's got 256MB, if that helps) in a laptop, so maybe that's the cause. I dunno.

      Otherwise, it works great. Twinview, digital vibrance, CRT detection so it does the right thing in docked/undocked situations, etc. Just
    • by tji (74570)
      No, it's not.

      It's similar to ATI's MPEG2 acceleration feature, which has been in their hardware for over a decade. But, that feature is not usable in Linux, because ATI has never released driver source or hardware specs to enable this feature.

      The same applies to a lot of the new features that the manufacturers hype.. all the video processing, MPEG4, and WMV accelation. They are all unavailable to Linux users.

      If Intel delivers on their open source support claims, I will gladly build my MythTV frontend arou
  • by grumpyman (849537)
    We would go as far as to say to get rid of your DVD player and connect a media centre PC to your LCD television!'


    There are actually a lot of people using PC as DVR for the longest time... nothing's surprising really.

  • It is amazing... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RafaelGCPP (922041)
    It is amazing how someone can lose time doing such research!

    Hindsight is 20/20! There is no research on well-known facts!!

    Facts:

    1) Video processors in PCs are usually much more powerful, even when compared to the high-end video equipments
    2) The CPU is also much more powerful, as a typical consumer product uses a simpler one, typically an ARM processor
    3) Most VGA monitors and panels in the market today have higher resolution and finer pitch than most consumer TV sets, even high-end...

    Of course there are some
  • Haven't tried these cards yet (too poor :) ), but most dvd players I've used are pretty lousy at deinterlacing (xine wasn't too bad, but installing linux is more work than I want to do right now).
  • I have RTFA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nkrgovic (311833) on Friday September 01, 2006 @01:10PM (#16025068)
    and what it never mentions is how did they connect those DVD players to the TV. The simple chinese junk costing under 100$ are usually connected via a composite, or an S-Video cable at best. Now the difference in the quality of signal you can get through a composite cable and a higher-end component or HDMI connection is rather large. If they connected the PC's using VGA or DVI and the players using a cheap composite cable - well, no wonder the players sucked. You just can't transfer that kind of information through a single wire.

      On a side note, the other reason most people use component players is their sound. A good Hi-Fi player has a much higher quality sound than any PC. You can probably get close to the quality of the sound of a under-1K$ player wtih a great sound for a PC, but let's face it: latest generation video card + high end sound + the PC... There is no much price difference. And that PC still doesn't play SACD.
    • by TeamSPAM (166583)

      About 2 years ago I bought a new 32" Sony WEGA tv. Since it had the component inputs I went out and got the cables. Honestly, I can't tell the difference between the output on a composite cable vs. a set of component cables for my DVD player. (Yes, the DVD player is capable of progressive scan output, to bad my tv can't handle it). PC video cards are already designed to handle HDTV resolutions, some do it for 2 monitors. DVD players are generally targeting 480i or 480p output. Now, if nVidia or ATI got into

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by GoRK (10018)
        I hesitate a minute here, but if you can't see the difference in picture quality switching between component and composite cables, something in your setup is either not set up correctly, is broken or is otherwise extremely substandard.

        For a regular old 480i signal, you should see very obvious color and luminance bleeding in the composite signal vs S-Video or component. Put something like the DVD player's setup menu on the screen then switch between inputs. Look at the edges of text or edges between white an
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday September 01, 2006 @01:12PM (#16025082) Homepage

    I wonder what would happen if a manufacturer created a video card and just let the community write open source software and drivers for it? Save the company the expense of writing the drivers and let the community develop a large potential market for them.

    It would seem to have the added advantage of forcing the others to support Linux, but I'm betting that open source drivers would be more widely received, even if the proprietary drivers were better. Just seems that would be a good way to sell more video cards.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by qaffle (264280)
      There's no reason you can't do this with any card. Just because "true" drivers exist doesn't mean you couldn't write your own. But its a PITA to do this, so you'd at least want information on the cards control codes and what not (an API type manual), unless you want to reverse engineer these.

      Even with a supportive vendor, getting drivers built by "the community" is slow; someone sitting in their room fiddling with a card on the weekends is going to take a lot longer (and probably do a worse job) then a g
  • by dindi (78034) on Friday September 01, 2006 @01:13PM (#16025095) Homepage
    I figured, that my nvidia made a lot cleaner and higher resolution image than my $200 DVD player, even on my old 800x600 epson projector, but then I met the disturbing truth:

    -my wife hated to mess around with my pc just to watch a disc
    -i did not find a decent remote control
    -playback software was a lot more complicated than the one the DVD player has
    - problems started after a driver upgrade (spdif sound disappeared on my ASUS A8n SLI after installing recent NFORCE drivers) ...

    I mean these are mostly problems for my family, I am ok, watching with a wireless keyboard, and enjoying the better quality, but for everyone else it is just awkward ...

    Yes, i watched my high bit DVDs, and my matrix collection (at least eyecandy parts) on it and was happy, but for everyday use, it was just a pain ....
    especially, bc that is my gaming rig as well, so if my wife wanted to watch a chick-flick, while I wanted to shoot at people online, a clash happened :(
    • by karnal (22275)
      - problems started after a driver upgrade (spdif sound disappeared on my ASUS A8n SLI after installing recent NFORCE drivers) ...

      Had the same thing happen to me on my Sagetv box. Did a reload of the OS at one point, but didn't use the drivers (for sound) off of the CD. The drivers on their site for the SPDIF out will only give you 2ch sound, no matter what the source. The drivers on the included motherboard CD will put out a Dolby Digital 5ch signal for every source (including 2ch). This doesn't mean th
      • by dindi (78034)
        you know, i think the sad truth is, that most people do not care about 5.1 7.1 or whatever else audio

        even if they do, most of them do not use an optical or coaxial SPDIF / digital out. ....

        i tried digital once, and never want my humming speakers back, i have like a 7 meter distance between the pc and the AMP, adn as soon as it is not SPDIF i get all these wierd noises all over, since the cables go near 3 other pcs, network cables, and tv signal, and just pick up all the noise, even though i am using gold-pl
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by evilviper (135110)

      -my wife hated to mess around with my pc just to watch a disc
      -i did not find a decent remote control
      -playback software was a lot more complicated than the one the DVD player has

      All these are PEBKAC errors...

      Buy an IR reciever for $15, and use it with ANY REMOTE you have, to control your PC (just configure LIRC for it).

      Use MPlayer (a GUI would just get in the way).

      Then just write a script that will start playing your DVD when you press a button on the remote... One that will open your filemanager to the fol

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dindi (78034)
        yeah, mplayer and linux ....

        being a linux admin since linux IS, I would say that that is the very last option I would want for myself ...

        first of all: i do not have "movie files" I only watch DVDs. they have menus, I want a GUI for them to use the features.
        last time I checked Mplayer still did not have DVD menus, and took long to find the CCS keys (since linux players still do not have a "legal player".

        2nd: i use a surround AMP, last time it was 4 years ago when i started messing with ALSA's SPDIF output.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by evilviper (135110)

          I only watch DVDs. they have menus, I want a GUI for them to use the features.

          A GUI has nothing at all to do with DVD menus. Your DVD player certainly doesn't have a GUI at all.

          last time I checked Mplayer still did not have DVD menus,

          It's not officially part of MPlayer yet, but the dvdnav patch has been working fine for probably 6 months now.

          Besides, I just prefer MPlayer. You certainly can use Xine via a remote control quite easily, if you prefer that over MPlayer.

          and took long to find the CCS keys

          It's b

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dindi (78034)
            " A GUI has nothing at all to do with DVD menus. Your DVD player certainly doesn't have a GUI at all."

            A DVD menu is a graphical representation of the content on your disc and a user interface, so it is a Graphical User Interface for the disc = GUI
            My dvd player has a GUI in fact that works by a remote control to set all the features up:)

            What I meant with "messing" was that a good few years ago, the SPDIF out wasn't just a recompile of the kernel to include the drivers for your audio card, but a painful proce
  • by MrNemesis (587188) on Friday September 01, 2006 @01:15PM (#16025108) Homepage Journal
    Why no reviews of any of the many myriad MPEG2 decoders out there? It's like they're saying that the only way you can get super high quality DVD playback is to use a modern GFX card and a specialist decoder library.

    My MythTV system uses Xine to play DVD's via an nVidia 6150 chipset straight into the DVI input on my TV. It uses XVMC motion compensation to cut down on CPU usage (not that MPEG2 decoding and filtering uses much CPU at all these days - my AMD64 3500 sits at 1GHz and uses about 15-25% CPU playing back a DVD with postprocessing activated), and the quality blows anything else I've seen out of the water. Similarly, using ffdshow on my workstation in windows mode results in a really good picture.

    If you ask me, most people will be more than happy with the default decoder that came with PowerDVD or what have you. It seems silly to do a "PC's vs. DVD players" comparison and leave out what 80& of people are using. Are there any other MPEG2 decoder reviews around?
    • by evilviper (135110)

      It uses XVMC motion compensation to cut down on CPU usage

      Actually, XWMC is a funny thing. With as fast of a CPU as you've got, I fully expect XVMC is using up more CPU time than software decoding would (assuming non-highdef material).

      and the quality blows anything else I've seen out of the water.

      The quality has nothing to do with XVMC, and everything to do with exactly what this article is all about (videocard and decoding software)...

  • by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Friday September 01, 2006 @01:22PM (#16025160)
    I can see it now; "All in one graphic card. Now with easy to attach wheels to vacuum-clean other parts of your house too!"
  • We would go as far as to say to get rid of your DVD player and connect a media centre PC to your LCD television!
    Hey article, 2001 called, it wants its timely advice back!
  • by An Ominous Cow Erred (28892) on Friday September 01, 2006 @01:34PM (#16025234)
    The big problem is that the video output from these consumer video card devices is never synced properly to the source video rate. The "cadence" tests in this article are worthless because no encoding-based pulldown is happening since it's being rendered progressively. The pulldown that's happening instead is taking the progressive source (or god forbid the interlaced source) and displaying it on whatever frame rate your display happens to be set to.

    Working with film, this means 24fps. If your display is 70fps, 75fps, etc. that means some ugly pulldown is in store.

    What gets even worse, however, is if you use the video output feature of your card in a HTPC setup -- you wind up having it go through ANOTHER PULLDOWN to 29.97fps (NTSC) or 25fps (PAL) FROM THE PULLDOWN YOU DID BEFORE. Even worse it's resampled and scaled for this output.

    This is pretty apparent in pans in movies and such -- the pans are never quite smooth exactly.

    Also since sound and video are usually totally unsynced subsystems in a HTPC, the audio is often slightly out of sync with the video. This causes an occasional audio or video skip (depending on what the playback software recognizes as canonical sync). For short clips this usually doesn't happen, but the skip will often happen over the course of a movie. If it's syncing to audio, the frameskip/delay is usually not noticeable because it gets lost in all the pulldown issues mentioned earlier.

    While it's possible to make a HTPC setup that syncs the video properly to avoid these issues, I've never seen a HTPC setup do it right. I've seen embedded Linux and WinCE devices do it correctly, using custom code to ensure proper video syncing.

    Standalone DVD players, even most cheap ones, get everything synced properly to a reference pulldown (29.97 or 25 fps, progressive if supported). Framerate and audio sync is always correct, to the nearest level capable of the pulldown.

    It's a shame, because modern LCD/Plasma displays with digital inputs should theoretically be able to handle real 24fps input for film sources, for instance, which is something current DVD players don't do. Try getting your HTPC to output 24Hz and getting your media player, going through all the video and audio APIs of your OS, to sync every frame and every audio sample exactly to it. =P It simply can't be done -- you have to code to the metal.

    (In studio environments video editing PCs actually have professional video/audio cards that have custom APIs and synced internal clocks to be able to ensure perfect framerates and audio sync and to make sure playback is timed properly on them. I know someone who's built themselves a HTPC with gear like this and it works great.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Keeper (56691)
      The target audience for this article are those interested in upscaling dvd players (ie: dvd players used with an hd tv). Hooking one up to an SD CRT would be a pointless exercise.

      The effect you're complaining about is judder, not "pulldown". Pulldown is the process through which judder is introduced.

      Movies on a dvd are telecined, whereby 24fps video is encoded at 30fps as shown in this wikipedia diagram: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Three-two_pulld own_diagram.png [wikipedia.org]

      The judder created by this encoding
  • Here is what I am reading.

    - $2000 is way to much to spend on a standalone DVD player. I think we can all agree on that, especially in light of this article

    - For many people a $35 DVD player is plenty. People that spent $60, sorry you spent too much if all you got was 480p output, but maybe your player will last longer though, but does it really matter if the player lasts for 18 months vs 3 years if it costs you twice as much.

    - For those of us with Plasman/LCD/DLP/etc HDTV displays with HDMI or DVI inputs t
  • A lot of the other comments cover reasons why using a PC might not be the best even if the video quality is superior. One thing I want to add is SACD support. My $500 Denon DVD player will play SACDs in addition to all the various DVD things, progressive scan output, etc. I haven't found anything PC or Mac based that will do this. MLP too, but that's less of a concern.
  • I bought a $50 DVD player at Costco that does a great job. A "Media Center PC" means a Windows PC to play the DVD (for most people). Those graphics would have to be damned good to make anyone want to screw around with any PC running any version of Windows just to play a DVD. Never mind the hardware cost, or even the M$ software cost. No, the real cost of the system would be the time with updates, disk management, hardware updates, software updates, activation crap, spyware, viruses, scripting agents, et
  • by Splendid Turd (416071) on Friday September 01, 2006 @02:05PM (#16025493)
    The article essentially says "our $2000 PC can play DVD video as good as some $2000 DVD players"...

    Please.

    Here is a $200 DVD player that will perform better than most $2000 PCs:
    http://oppodigital.com/opdv971h.html [oppodigital.com]

    I'm not saying you cant do great things with video using the right PC setup, but that article failed to point out the respective costs of the hardware they used for making this comparison. I won't even get into usability comparisons...

  • Oh, you say you can't get a 400 disc carousel to fit in my case for $50? Bummer, 'cause I need space for my discs, and the safest place is in a jukebox. Sure, I could rip all those DVDs and store them on disc, but that would take 2.8TB of disc space, and even at .30/GB I can buy two 400 disc jukeboxes for the price of the hard drives to store one. Why would I spend $500-600 on a box, plus $350 to $600 on the video cards they tested, to do the job of a $60 player, or the $500+$350+$850 (suprise: $1700) to ge
    • I guess it comes down to what features are important in a particular household. I don't switch DVDs often enough to need button-click access to my entire collection. In fact, even a 6-disk changer for audio CDs has 4 about slots too many for me; I'm not sure why, but it just ends up being simpler for me to handle A/V media one disc at a time.

      Also, I prefer that strangers *not* be able to monkey with my home theater stuff without my help. My technophobic wife can handle it just fine, and that's all that real
  • While many of the HQV tests from Silicon Optix are useful (the 2:2 and 3:2 cadence, the jaggies), some of those other tests (6:4, 5:5, 2:2:3:2) are so rare they really are almost never going to apply to users. Just because the video cards can detect obscure cadence you will never use, doesn't mean they will work better for you in day-to-day use. Also, there is a good market for a $2,000 DVD player out there. If you've spent $3-10,000 on a projector, a ton on your sound system, and your DVD player is the
  • by zerofoo (262795) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:00PM (#16025964)
    Its a joke - really.

    I have a fairly expensive NAD unit. Sure, it produces a nice picture; but the hardware is far from exotic.

    The unit consists of a DVD drive assembly, a power supply, a stamped chassis, and a very small circuit board with readily identifiable (and inexpensive) parts.

    I've even looked at the internals of some Rotel units. Sure, the mechanicals look like they can take a bullet, but the digital heavy-lifiting is done in some very cheap, off the shelf, components.

    It's not suprising that a PC with a good video card does a better job.

    -ted
  • What a crock of a conclusion. They failed to mention the interconnects they used on each system, what it was connected to and if it was properly calibrated. Not to mention, they left out half of what makes a DVD player a DVD player - sound! And how about:

    1. Interconnects : A modest component DVD player will have Composite, Component, S-Video, and perhaps DVI/HDMI. Most of the listed video cards do Svideo and DVI only.
    2. Audio Inerconnects: The video cards tested don't have audio. A modest player will usually h

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