A Trouble-Free PC Blu-ray Playback Experience? Maybe In 2010
This is the fifth PC video playback article I've written, and I keep expecting things to go smoothly. But while the problems this time around were mostly transparent, it took me until after I had completed all of the testing to realize that there were some real issues.
Nvidia Drivers: Blu-ray IQ Enhancements Have Been Broken Since 182.5
This was a surprise. When we contacted Nvidia to confirm our image-quality results after our tests were completed, representatives there told us we weren't seeing what we should. Further investigation revealed that drivers newer than 182.5 have a bug that doesn't allow for jaggy reduction (diagonal filtering) in the GeForce 9300/9400 and turns off film-mode detection in the GeForce 8200.
After we learned about the bug, we re-tested with the 182.5 drivers and "voila," the image quality improved. We therefore tested the Nvidia chipsets using the 182.5 drivers, and now that Nvidia is aware of the problem, it is working on a solution for future driver releases. All will be well soon enough.
A final complaint about the Nvidia drivers: noise reduction still doesn't seem to be enabled by default. I assume this is because slower systems might take a notable performance hit with this feature enabled, but it would be nice if the driver would detect the CPU and automatically enable the feature if there was enough horsepower to handle it.
Update: Since this article was written, Nvidia has released a new 190.62 driver. We haven't had time to test it to see if this bug has been fixed, but Nvidia doesn't seem to have mentioned it as a resolved issue in the driver release notes.
Intel's G45: Film-Mode Detection Should Work, But That's Not Always the Case
In the G45's driver options, there's a specific checkbox that's turned on by default called Enable Film Mode Detection. That box indicates that the Intel folks have specifically added support for inverse telecine in the G45. The problem is that we couldn't get it to work.
We tried the newest Intel 18.104.22.1689 drivers and patching PowerDVD 8 and even used PowerDVD 9 for newer builds after our testing was completed, but we still didn't have any luck. The G45 board we tested seemed to use motion-adaptive processing instead of applying the proper inverse cadence.
We will try options such as alternate software players and update this article with information as we learn more about this problem. In the meantime, Intel asserts the feature works, even though certain players might not completely support it.
Update:We did finally manage to get Film Detection Mode to work with the G45 chipset using both PowerDVD Ultra, versions 8 and 9. The problem lies in PowerDVD's default hardware de-interlacing setting of 'Bob.' When this is set to 'Default' (which, strangely enough, wasn't selected by default), the hardware de-interlacing feature works.
We also applied the newest patch we could find to Corel's WinDVD software, version DXVA B14.091, and film detection mode seems to work with that playback software as well.
With this information in hand, we have edited the image quality scoring and conclusion accordingly.