DVD Playback in Windows

I just got a couple new DVD's and figured I see how playing a DVD on my new PC would be like. After all watching something on a 21" CRT is gonna be bigger and nicer than a 15" LCD, right? well I must say I am very unimpressed with the performance in Windows XP and Windows Media Player 9. I thought I would share what I have learned.

I have a 15" PowerBook G4 and am used to playing my DVD's in OS X. And I must say the controls for DVD playback in WMP9 are really bad. Only a few of the controls have a keyboard shortcut associated with them. I guess I was just hoping that the DVD controls would be better in Windows Media Player. I find no controls for Angle, Enter, and there is no keyboard way to get to the menu system of the DVD or to move through tracks. Also, and this is just a personal note, the scaling of the video to a smaller version to show the UI of WMP9 when in Full Screen Mode when you move the mouse is horrible. Sometimes this is jumpy in itself, and is also very annoying.

what really gets me is how much the video skips in Windows. Though the same DVD's do not skip on my PowerBook. Even though the DVD-ROM drive on my TiBook is really messed up, it still does not skip or jump around. (I did try many of my DVD's in Windows and they all skip to some extent). Now why is this? my PowerBook is a 2+ yr. old 500 Mhz G4 and my PC is a very new 3 Ghz P4. I have not once had the video skip on my TiBook. I even took the time once to kill all the background processes once before firing up WMP9 and the video still skips. And once, today, I was in the middle of watching X-MEN and WMP just up and disappeared. I was watching Storm zap Toad one second and the next I was staring at my desktop.

I just had higher expectations for Windows. I ended up hooking my 21" monitor up to my TiBook, that solved the problem of the jumpy video. I guess I will chalk this up to something else that is better done on Mac OS X.

Oh yes, my PC did come with DVD player software. I got whatever bundle of software that comes with a DVD-A05 drive. I have yet to really hear of any DVD player software that is really any better than WMP, so if you know of any I for one would like to know about it.

I rummaged through my Start Menu and found PowerDVD XP (version 4). funny thing is that this application does not show up in that window that shows up in XP when you insert a DVD into the computer. WMP9 and RealOne show up in the list, but not PowerDVD. I will have to watch a couple DVDs with PowerDVD to see if things are better. One thing that I find interesting is that Windows does not come with a built in (1st party) DVD decompressor. WMP9 has to rely on a 3rd party decompressor (in my case PowerDVD). Since WMP9 and PowerDVD are actually using the same "backend" to play the video there should be no difference in quality in either app (WMP9 or PowerDVD). But there is something that tells me that the video will jump less using a dedicated DVD player such as PowerDVD.

Talking about bundled software, of all the bundles software that came with the components of my computer, the Audigy2 card, the 9700 Pro, the LITE ON CDRW, the DVD-A05, none are worth using. Save maybe for the copy of NERO 5.5 that came with the LITE ON drive. Of course that will not let you burn using another drive (such as the DVD-A05 drive) so thats not even really a great bundle. PowerDVD seems to be a good piece of bundled software as well. I have not had the time to mess with it though. I plan to look into it and do a comparison/review of it though.

Comments (17)

You can add PowerDVD to that menu using the XP version of TweakUI - see http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/downloads/powertoys.asp .

I've heard good things about PowerDVD. However it seems strange that the playback is funny - I've watched DVDs on a 1800Mhz XP-based PC through WMP9 and it's been perfectly smooth.

I should not have to add it to the window, that is my point. but i will look into it, thanks.

Ignore him, Neil...he's just a pissy Mac guy ;)

Well now i WILL be a pissy mac guy just for you Jake, MUA HA HA HA. he he, just kidding. at least i post original content :P

but seriosly, i believe in equal opportunity ranting. do you want me to do a piece on the Finder in Mac OS X?

OK, you got me on the original content -- been a while since I've written something tremendously original.

However, I'm not a spoiled little brat with a bunch of free time and toys (so help me god, if I have to hear about another game system of yours, I'll kick your ass ;)) like you [hehe]. I've got a family, and a full-time job that takes up WAY too much of my time.

So....uh....nanny-nanny-boo-boo :)

Oh, and I know how to properly capitilize my sentences, so there! :P I can't spell, but that's another story entirely.

OK, I'm done now, really. :)

yea i been thinking about buying that GameBoy Advance SP. HA HA HA :P

I admit i do not capitalize my sentences and my i's. the reason is because i learned that the word processor (and the email program) would do that for me, so i got into the habbit of not doing it. its a hard habit to break. sorta like only one space after a period is correct even thought all through middle/high school you are tought to use 2 spaces. habbits are hard to break, but then i am lazy :)

but who cares! its a blog!

Jake,
Download a recent Power DVD from Kazaa, and a keygen. I use Power DVD for most lengthy viewing...no skips, has a nice shuttle dial...etc.

Ramona:

Are there any windows dvd decoder updates that are freeware for Windows media player 9?

Good question. I use PowerDVD XP (4.0) which came with my Pioneer A05 drive. I doubt there is a freebie decoder available.

Of course since I dont use my PC for much I just use the DVD Player app in OS X :P

Anonymous:

Yeah, it's looking like they are all about 15 bucks and I'm not sure it's worth it for Windows Media Player 9. I got Win DVD with my laptop, but I'm not crazy about the quality. How much is Power DVD and can you copy DVD's to DVD, CD, or the hardrive?

i would ask on the ntfs.org forums.

LupY:

u dudes um...know a lot about this shit and it sounds good lol good work!
hahaha dun mind me im just a leet kid

Tybalt:

Check out myhtpc.com. I believe there is a free DVD plug-in available. It's a free front end with mant usefull plug-ins. I don't work for them, I just likie the software.

Nyle:

In case someone reads this thread that actually want s an answer. DVD playback can be affected by multiple issues including hardware like not having DMA mode turned on for the DVD-ROM drive.

I'd also recomend looking at Cyberlink PowerDVD or Intervideo WindDVD for DVD playback. If you have you heart set on using WMP then buy NVidia's PureVideo MP2 decoder which plugs into WMP and allows full hardware accelleration using DirectX.

You don't mention any of the specifications on your IBM PC Compatible is it a PII 266MHz with 32MB of RAM? Not a big fan of ATI cards as they tend to have driver support issues.

The other thing I did notice is that you have a CDRW and a DVD-ROM and I'm going to assume they are on the same IDE chain. Being a Lite-ON which I've had bus timing issues with try disconnecting your CDRW to see if its the issue.

Just some ideas.

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