Many years ago, I had my PC operate as a home theater PC via simply having a DVD player and the very nice and cheap RealMagic Hollywood Player Plus which had hardware decoding for both the DVD and the 5.1 dolby digital audio out to my receiver. A real treat. On the TV, it looked simply fantastic, the audio was awesome, etc. For a cheap card, that thing was really boss. But, times are changing and I don't even have that old PC anymore.
Currently, I have a DVD drive and a Palit GeForce 8800gt Super Sonic 1gig (for gaming). I tried some DVD playback and I'm just not impressed at all. The quality of the image playback doesn't look at all like the quality of the old RealMagic Hollywood Player I used to use (a PCI add-in card). Seems to me that the GeForce 8 series should be able to have good playback for DVD image quality with the PureVideo HD and all that built into these chips. But the image quality looks grainy, the color is washed looking (and I've tried to correct with color/brightness/contrast settings for the 22" LCD I'm using to no avail). Aduio is perfect with VLC and my Auzentech Cinema Xplosion, perfect discrete 5.1, and it's gorgeous.
So now I'm looking to just get a new add-in card for dedicated hardware DVD playback, and would like to keep Bluray as an option too.
Is there anything like the old RealMagic Hollywood Player PCI card out there these days that is great for DVD and Blueray yet? I'm looking for something that is real hardware like the hollywood was, because I'm just not happy with the playback of a geforce for DVD purposes on the side of gaming.
-- After reading more information on the website, it seems the DVD decoder is something I have to buy? That's really weird. Why would we have to buy a software decoder, or is it a hardware thing that we add to the computer? I'm totally lost on this. I was under the impression that the purevideo thing was built into the geforce.
Purevideo is included on every nvidia card produced since the 7 series (or 8 series, i can't remember). You don't have to purchase it separately. You must be sure to enable "hardware decoding" in your dvd player software in order to use it.
Pinaplex - Thanks, that's what I thought. Confusion lifted.
Sheila - Yes, it is. But as mentioned, it's my gaming videocard as well. I'm just also using it for dvd playback.
Normally I use VLC because I prefer to support it. However, I do have PowerDVD 8 (it's pretty nice) and it has the option for hardware/purevideo and all that. I enabled it, but it doesn't seem to make the video quality that much better. I still see grain in Saving Private Ryan. I'll have to try several DVDs to see what's up.
I guess I just wish it was as easy as it used to be with the RealMagic card. Just put it in. Install it's software. Put in your DVD. Play. And everything is as it should be and crisp and clean. *Sigh*
I know the feeling, I had a creative 8X Creative DVD-rom with it's Dxr3 card and it did a great job of decoding, and prety much never skipped, and didn't chew resources so you could multi-task.
However with the advent of basic MPEG decoding being built into the cards, they relied on that, and for most people it was a big step-up from software decoding, but for anyone who had a dedicated solution it was usually a big step backwards.
I'm not sure how current quality would match up, but I do remember my old Creative drive fondly. Whether or not the current ATi and nV solutions can match hardware decoders/upsacalers I don't know.
In an old firingsquad review they were showing difficulty against something like the PS3 and a dedicated HQV processor, but the differences can be minor. Not to say that they don't matter, because I noticed going from the HQV powered Toshiba and Samsung players to the slightly challenged QDEO player on the LG, but HD playback mattered more.
I'm curious if resolution has anything to do with it. I've been playing it at 1680x1050, my desktop resolution on my LCD (22"). I'm wondering if I were to run at a lower resolution if it would change the apparent image quality (ie, is it streching the DVD image to be way larger than it's capable of while retaining quality and that's why it's not looking very good/sharp). I'm going to test it at 1280x800 and lower, and probably test it with video out to my HD TV just to get an idea of whether or not it's my LCD/resolution's fault, or if the image quality is just.... not good (which would be pretty disappointing).
I'm at work so I'll have to test later, but I'm curious if anyone has input on that.
If you don't mind running with a ltterbox, then running off-res is OK, but remember BluRays are 1080P not 720P, so you would want to tweak for that with the best resolution being a monitor that supports 1080P or 1920x1200 (with letterboxing).
Also, for scaling the new GPUs are better at off resolution than most older solutions, not sure how the Broadcom would fare.
I woudl recommend manually tweaking, but I think you're always going to have some artifacts running at anything less than 1920x1080 because no matter how good, it's going to try to fit 2 pixels/lines into 1 in some areas.
DVD upscaling would be a bit better because you could fit a good 4:1 scale image inside of your resolution for 480P, but you'd still be stuck with being better off showing it @ 960 and not 1050 so you don't have to interpolate and stretch.
I have no issues watching Blue Ray , HD_DVD @ 1080P
Video Quality is excellent...
Video Card: BFG 8800GT OC 512, I have tested 3870, 280... The resulting video image is the same
Display: 70 Inch HDTV
Video Link: DVI to HDMI
Audio Link: Optical from PC to Receiver
MB: Asus Maximus Formula
Memory: 4 GByte ( I tried 8 Gbgyte and the result is the same)
Blue Ray/HD_DVD Drive: LG/SATA
OS: Vista Ultimate 64 Bit
Blue Ray/HD/DVD Player: Cyberlink Power DVD 7.XX
I just got an HP Notebook with BlueRay Player. I installed the same Cyberlink DVD player. Again i got excellent video quality.
The 8800GT does an excellent job in BD/HD/DVD playback....
Try the cyberlink PowerDVD. If you want to play Blue Ray you need a Blue_ray drive. Normally Blue_Ray drive comes with PowerDVD player.