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Best DVD software

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by NickBull, Jan 3, 2002.

  1. NickBull

    NickBull
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    OK, the best DVD software changes faster than I change my undies (more than once a fortnight, hionest!)

    What is the current league table?

    I have WINDVD 3.0 and I am quite pleased with it.

    Also have the ATI player which is a great picture but I just can't get S/PDIF out of my soundblaser 5.1 so it's un usable really!

    I think that the ATI is probably better picture quality, but not much in it.
     
  2. Peter Parker

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    I'm using WinDVD too, as it works OK with DD and DTS going to my receiver, and has good picture quality. I'm not going to mess with it while things re running OK... :)

    Go over to www.avsforum.com and look in the htpc forum for Zoom Player. This player will allow you to use the audio and video filters of your choice, so you should be able to have ATI picture quality, with WinDVD sound.

    I'm going to try another hard drive in my htpc and reinstall everything from scratch. I'll then install the ATI player and WinDVD to along with Zoom player just to see if I can get it to work as well as WinDVD does at the moment, but with the picture quality of the ATI player. I'll then be able to ditch YXY as Zoom has all this functionality built in.

    HTH

    Gary.
     
  3. Rob.Screene

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    Sorry for the delay in replying, but I wanted to get the exact details together so we can hopefully learn the best way around these things...

    I have tried the ATI 5.0 player and ZoomPlayer, here's what I found. I was and still am running WinDVD 3.0 on WindowsME, hardware decoding OFF.

    a) I started with the bundled Radeon 64 DDR drivers off the CD-ROM which came with the card (ati gart radeon driver 4.12.3063 this an old one 30-Dec-2000; i.e. the first Radeon driver).

    With my only installed player WinDVD 3.0 (plus girder, DVDgenie and powerstrip), and WinDVD's Properties|Video|Hardware decoding ON it looked horrible with almost combing type noise visible around the up scrolling Star Wars prologue. However all was very nice switching that off after restarting the player, cpu use doubled to max at about 50% of the Celeron 1.1GHz. Having set-up Powerstrip 1440x720 @ 71.928Hz for NTSC film and 1440x864 @ 75 for PAL pans and motion were pretty much judder free, about as nice as I remember from Roland's Rock processor. Sound was fine using DD/DTS output 48Hz through a modest Soundblaster Live card. Life was great!

    Roland then came back and calibrated the Barco 808s for this combination. The picture became very, very nice and life was good!

    After a few weeks, I noticed on the Matrix sub-ship scenes and then also on Star Wars I that dark background sometime slowly get darker. I think that this may be some compounding of mpeg2 background precision errors; like the I frames cumulating a precision loss, so that dark scenes get slowly darker until the next P frame. I don't remember ever seeing this on other DVD players.

    b) I decided to try the new, ATI 5.0 player having read great things about the "Cinemaster 4 2.0.02.0610 player filters" it comes with. I downloaded the free 6.5MB upgrade kit. I was running DirectX 8.0a, so I downloaded DirectX8.1. I installed the ATI 5.0 player, which prompted for me to insert my original ATI CD-ROM and enter a serial number off the front of the disk.

    I tried this ATI player and yes, colours and backgrounds may look ever so slightly cleaner and no darkening. DVDgenie needed changing to reset the winMe region code and it ran fine. Problems were; no DD or DTS output and pans on Insurrection (NTSC region 1) looked horrible, so did Starship Troopers (both using Powerstrip 1440x720 @ 71.928Hz).

    c) I installed ZoomPlayer 2.3 beta 2.

    I set this to use the standard Cinemaster filters and using the filter properties for the cinemaster audio filter I could enable SPDIF output, which enabled ZoomPlayer to use the ATI 5.0 filters to give me DD and DTS output. This was good and didn't sound noticeably better or worse than WinDVD DD and DTS output from R2 Gladiator or Star Wars.

    Problems were; lipsync after Pausing or ff/ rew and intermittent lockups of ZoomPlayer.

    d) Now I looked into ATI video drivers and realised my bundled driver was one year out-of-date. So I downloaded the driver many TheatreTek users are using; 7075 which is a few months old. This caused a grey and horribly corrupted picture from ATI and ZoomPlayers. I the downloded the latest official 7189 (12-Nov-2001) driver, removed 7075 and installed that.

    This fixed the grey screen problem and ZoomPlayer was much more stable, but still lipsync issues after a Pause or ff/rew during a film.

    e) I then went back to WinDVD 3.0 for an easier, more stable player. I happened to try Hardware decoding and I get a much, much improved picture over using 7189/DirectX8.1 over that from 3063/DirectX8.0a. This gives no dimming, great pans, DD/DTS, no lypsync issues and is totally stable.

    I think there may be a tiny loss of detail over software decoding, but nothing like I noticed on the 3063/DirectX8.0a drivers. Perhaps this is something to do with the new DirectX video acceleration DXVA standard????

    Anyway, WinDVD remains my player of choice.

    I know this conclusion is probably only valid with WindowsME based HTPCs (Win98SE). Windows2000, WindowsXP and Win95 users may see a different thing as DXVA is supposedly broken/not implements/notsuported on these various other playforms.

    best regards,
    Rob.
     
  4. Peter Parker

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    Great info Rob,

    I'm currently in a similar situation to you - I use WinDVd (with YXY) because it's the only player or combination that I have that gives me DD and DTS.

    I had to find a specialy made filtergraph for my Aureal soundcard so that it would output some sound in Zoomplayer (with WinDVD image filter), so I now use Zoom for everything except DTS titles. I resort to WinDVD and YXY for DTS.

    I've just downloaded ATI player 5 and Directx8.1 and I'll see what I can get working from there. The old player only gave me DPL sound, so wasn't really much use to me. Zoom couldn't find the old ATI player filters, so I'm still stuck with WinDVD really.

    I'd really like to be able to get Zoom working with ful DD/DTS because it's so easy to use when it comes to getting everything positioned just right on screen. The overlay controls are great too, and make further adjustments easy.

    I'll let you know how I get on with the ATI stuff when I've tried it.

    Cheers.

    Gary.
     
  5. NickBull

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    Thanks for that Rob,

    I've also noticed the slight darkening of backgrounds with WinDVD, I think by the sound of things I'll dounload latest Radeon Drivers and DirectX and then stick with WinDVD until something as easy to use, offering significant benefits.

    I may play around with the latest ATI and Zoom players too, but Apart from the odd DVD with the darkening backgrounds, I like WinDVD. (It doesn't seem to do the darkening thing on every DVD I have noticed, but some are bad enough to put me off watching).

    Thanks]

    Nick
     
  6. Rob.Screene

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    Cheers.

    Let me know how you find WinDVD Hardware decoding with the later drivers.

    I think there's also 7199 drivers around, but I don't think they are released or official. I am not sure if something changed with default gamma in 7189 or 7199.

    I didn't notice a brightness change going from 3063 to 7189, but beware of the global gamma slider in Display Properties, I think I read on avsforum that it may be broken/forgetfull in 7189 or 7199. I think it also might effect the ZoomPlayer overlay too.

    Rob.
     
  7. Jenz

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    I personally believe that the TheaterTek Player is the best DVD Software Player. It's also one of the most expensive :(

    Regards Neil.
     
  8. NickBull

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    Ah, but....

    Is the performanceworth the extra expense? What does it do better than say WinDVD?
     
  9. Peter Parker

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    I've been playing with Zoom player for a while now, trying various combinations of filters etc, and I'm currently running with the ATI player video filters, and WinDVD audeo wav filters, which gives me the best picture (TheaterTec notwithstanding), and DD sound. If I want DTS I have to fall back to WinDVD (with YXY).

    I have to say the image quality of the ATI player (5), appears to be far better than WinDVD (I'm using 2.64), with much better colour saturation and more detail. This is the best my system has looked since I started (I have a Davis DLS8).

    I have an old Aureal SQ1500 sound card, and this may be the problem with getting DTS via Zoom. I'll try a SoundBlaster Digital 4.1 in the htpc to see if those drivers allow me to get DTS with Zoom.

    Gary.
     
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    Rob,
    Im using Powerdvd,I have a question for you;-my Sony vpl 11ht has a widescreen res.of 1368 x 768.
    If I try the higher res.you mention for pal-will the projector scale down?
    Plus I have set my monitor to gdw 900 sony widescreen-as recommended by AVS-yet when I try and initiate non-standard resolutions in powerstrip and reboot the res`s are never accepted..am I doing something wrong?
    Doug
     
  11. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    Sorry Douglas, I don't have experience with any fixel panel projectors, but I can guess!

    I think 1440x864@75Hz requires about 73KHz horizontal rate (1440x960@71.928 requires about 77KHz). If your projector can lock to that input (and it's bandwidth is sufficient), then I have read than some projector scalers do scale down and end-up with a better looking picture than if they needed to scale-up.

    I don't know what my monitor is set to on the htpc. I'll look soon, it might be an IIyama 9017E as that was the monitor I originally build the pc with.

    regards,
    Rob.
     
  12. NickBull

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    I downloaded Direcctx 8.1, ATI drivers and ATI player along with Zoom Player. The piture is a noticable improvement using WinDVD, it just looks better and smoother, Hannibal looked fantastic in the dark scenes at the hanging in Florence.

    I tried the ATI player, but it was a bit jerky, I need to look into this more, but I did actually get DD output through the Radeon All-in-Wonder for the first time, so that is quite good.

    I only had a short period of time to play with ZOOM player. A 56k modem doesn't really help download time. With ZOOm I am struggling a bit, there's a lot of options and I'm not really sure where to start, basicvally I want the ATI video with decent SPDIF output. I'll have a play over the weekend.
     
  13. Peter Parker

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    Hi Nick,

    I'm using Zoom with ATI player and WinDVD DD sound (not managed to get DTS out of Zoom yet). I could nly get DPL out of the ATI player.

    If you want to try that option, go to 'options' then 'dvd setup'. Untick 'use system default', then choose the 'unregister all filters' option in the left hand window, then click the unregister filters button on the right hand side. Wait for the 'ok'.

    Now choose the option you want in the left hand window - such as 'choose cineplayer 4 for default waveout device', then register that option. You may have to try a few sound options depending on your sound card, but you should find something that works...

    You may have to shut down and restart zoom after each register/deregister, but you should now have zoom using the ATI 5 player video, and hopefully at least DD sound output.

    I did have some problems after running the ATI player, and lost sound in Zoom IIRC. I found that I had to uninstall the ATI player, and unregister it from Zoom. Then reboot, reinstall ATI and register it with zoom (maybe reboot can't remember). Now I had sound back. A bit fiddly, but consisdering the increased picture quality of the ATI player, it's worth the effort.

    HTH

    Gary.
     
  14. NickBull

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    Thanks Gary,

    I think my mistake was picking one of the combinations of player and sound filter provided in the list. None of which were exactly what I wnted..

    I'll give it a go tonight, I didn't think about unregistering the filters etc so I should get more success now.

    I got ATI DVD 5 last night, and it actually enabled the sound out of the All-in_Wonder spdif out. I think it's only DD but it's a start.

    I really want all sound through SB Live and Pictures through whatever is best. I did get some Lip Sync probs after pausing the ATI player, and I think that the pans weren't as smooth. I really need a few hours to play with it all.

    Thanks

    Nick
     
  15. Peter Parker

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    Zoom does have a Soundblaster Live sound option married with the Cineplayer 4 filters, so that may work for you.

    Good luck!!

    Gary.
     
  16. NickBull

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    I think I tried it and it crashed. It may be ok after the pc's been off though. I'll check it tonight.

    WINDVD definately looked a load better with new drivers and DIRECTX 8.1. It wouldn't be the end of the world if I have to stick with that.
     
  17. Peter Parker

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    I use WinDVD with YXY when I watch a DTS movie. I've not tried it since DX8.1 was installed, so maybe I'll check it out later.

    I couldn't manage gto improve the colour saturation with WinDVD, and the two colour sliders make it impossible to get a balanced colour if I adjusted them.

    How can I improve the colour of WinDVD? I'm running 2.64. Is 3 better?

    Gary.
     
  18. NickBull

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    Not sure, 3.0 is the only version I've owned. It has the 2 sliders for colour, I had the pj set up and calibrated for spot on colour temp, then I upped the red and blue slider one notch each just to my personal taste.

    It all looks very film like at the moment even though the pj is long in the tooth. I think that might actually help, seemingly worn tubes can give a more film like effect? (or I dreamt that someone said that).
     
  19. Peter Parker

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    Hi Nick,

    I'm now getting DTS with zoom player!

    I upgraded my WinDVD 2.64 audio filter to the 2.8 version, and for some reason, that allows Zoom to pass DTS to my denon receiver. It shows Gladiator as DTS Discrete. :)

    Apparently the WinDVD 2.3 or 2.6 video filters are better than the later ones, but the 2.8 audio is better than the earlier ones.

    I got the 2.8 upgrade from here

    Hope that helps...

    Gary.
     

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