Intervideo WinDVD vs. Nvidia DVD Decoder

Discussion in 'Windows Media Center' started by Bob C., Dec 5, 2004.

  1. Bob C.

    Bob C. Guest

    I just upgraded my HP 854n Media Center to MCE 2005. Before the upgrade, my
    pc had WinDVD 4 on it. As soon as the upgrade finished, it had WinDVD 5.
    I've upgraded the software to WinDVD 6 and I've tried Nvidia DVD Decoder.
    Here's what I experienced:

    WinDVD 5: When I viewed Live TV, the video display was somewhat choppy.
    Pushing fast-forward or rewind on the remote worked fine.

    WinDVD 6: When I viewed Live TV, the video display was not as choppy as
    with WinDVD 6. Pushing fast-forward or rewind on the remote resulted in the
    video and audio signal from Live TV or Recorded TV to freeze up. I had to
    then push the Stop button on the remote and then select Resume to get the
    display to resume working correctly for that particular TV show that I was

    Nvidia DVD Decoder: My display is fine for both Live TV and Recorded TV
    (it's also fine for DVD playback). I tried both the fast-forward and rewind
    features and they worked fine as well.

    In my opinion, Nvidia DVD Decoder is the way to go to avoid display
    problems. I'd be interested in hearing from others about their experiences
    with Nvidia's DVD Decoder to find out if they are as satisfied with it as I

    By the way, I uninstalled WinDVD before trying Nvidia DVD Decoder. The then
    had to run the TV Signal Setup from within MCE 2005 before trying it out.

    BOB C.
    Bob C., Dec 5, 2004
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  2. Bob C.

    kalev- Guest

    Bob C. wrote:

    I'd like to know too. I'm currently using Nvidas DVD codec.
    * I'm miffed that it doesn't support AC-3 via analog outputs (a hack using
    AC3-filter can fix that though), I do want to use analog because of all
    non-supported digital sourround sound versions. WMV, WMA and games. My
    AV-receiver has useful analog inputs for all 6 surround channels.

    * Another feature needed is a "smart stretch" of 4:3 video sources. In
    particular I need this since I'm using a VGA feed to my plasma. None of the
    TVs built-in "ratio adjustments" apply on the VGA port. This would minimize
    burn-in too.

    * Thirdly Im not convinced that it supports all mpg2 program and transport
    stream files, this is not a claim: more of a open question...

    I'm not unhappy with it but just curious if the other two are better (WinDVD
    and PowerDVD)
    kalev-, Dec 5, 2004
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  3. Bob C.

    Jeff Griffin Guest

    MCE does have a "smart stretch" feature. Hit more info when watching TV and
    select "zoom". This will only work if your resolution is set to a 16x9
    aspect ratio though.

    Jeff Griffin
    Windows XP Media Center Edition MVP
    Jeff Griffin, Dec 6, 2004
  4. Bob C.

    Ted Miller Guest

    As a side note I address this particular issue by connecting with both a DVI
    and an S-Video cable, and setting up my display adapter's dual-view stuff to
    clone mode, digital display + TV. I switch the plasma to the S-Video input
    (in smart-stretch mode) to watch 4:3 material.
    Ted Miller, Dec 6, 2004
  5. Bob C.

    Ted Miller Guest

    I don't think this is what the OP was talking about.

    If display resolution is set to widescreen, MCE gives you 3 zoom modes.

    * 'Standard' mode: in this mode the 4x3 signal is windowboxed with bars on
    the sides, of whatever color you've configured as the background color in
    MCE setup. (I find anything other than black distracting when watching HDTV,
    because there seems to be one line at the top and one at the bottom that
    assume the background color. If that's 40% gray it really stands out.)

    * 'Zoom' mode: zooms in on the 16x9 area of a 4x3 signal, in a linear
    fashion. This is for watching letterboxed 4x3 material. This is enormously
    distracting for watching a fullscreen 4x3 picture because it simply cuts off
    too much.

    * 'Full' mode: stretches horizontally in a linear fashion so that the 4x3
    signal fills the screen. This is for watching anamorphic/16x9 material. This
    *sometimes* is OK for regular 4x3 material -- for example I find that
    watching 4x3 cartoons in this mode feels perfectly normal.

    What's missing is a "smart stretch" mode whereby 4x3 material is stretched
    to fill a 16x9 screen in a way preserves the material while minimizing
    distortion. Many 16x9 display devices have this; there are different
    algorithms. For example: on my plasma, the image is zoomed slightly (to
    approximately 1.66:1), which cuts off a little of the top and bottom but
    makes the picture almost wide enough to fill the screen. Then the right and
    left quarters of the signal are stretched a little more. My CRT-based Sony
    HDTV uses a different alrogithm, where the top and bottom parts of a zoomed
    image are vertically compressed slightly.
    Ted Miller, Dec 6, 2004
  6. Bob C.

    Stephen Neal Guest

    Does it? I've only come across the basic Zoom modes - that allow you to
    watch full-width, full-height or letterbox/pillarbox. None of them have a
    "smart" stretch where the centre of the 4:3 image is presented relatively
    undistorted, but the edges are progressively stretched to fill the 16:9
    screen. (This is normally called SMART or PANORAMA on a 16:9 set in Europe)
    Hmm - works also when displaying 16:9 material in 4:3 (probably more common
    in the UK where many DVB-T broadcasts are 16:9). The Zoom option appears
    when the source and display aspect ratios differ - so, as you say, you get
    it with 4:3 material on a 16:9 display, but you also get it with 16:9
    material on a 4:3 display. It isn't a function of a 16:9 resolution per se
    (though the ZOOM icon for letterboxing in 4:3 remains the 16:9 pillarboxing
    one!) it is a function of source and display ratios differing - and thus
    conversion via zooming, cropping or letterboxing being required.

    The OP is right though - XP MCE seems to be limited to zoom/crop and a
    linear stretch - there is no "SMART" stretch mode that I have found.

    (I initially ran my XP MCE install as am 800x600 or 1024x768 4:3 desktop
    feeding a 16:9 TV via the S-video output, and have now moved to a 1024x576 -
    16:9 "PAL" resolution - desktop feeding my 16:9 TV via the VGA output and
    using Powerstrip and a VGA to SCART cable - so I've experienced all 4
    situations of 4:3 / 16:9 source and display!)

    Stephen Neal, Dec 6, 2004
  7. Bob C.

    kalev- Guest

    Well, I was never the OP but I guess I stole this whole thread..

    I also would like to add that because of this issue some (= many) DVDs act
    The DVD menu may be only produced as a 4:3 screen, but the movie is 16:9. So
    the menu screen look "wrong", until the movie starts, awkward. I do
    believe that any desktop DVD player will be able to always output a 16:9
    screen regardless of the aspect ratio of the source material. It shouldn't
    be too difficult for a mpeg decoder to sort this out? (Ie autodetect)

    Different "smart" aspect adjustment settings for MCE itself and/or the DVD
    decoder in unison? would be very appreciated by many -- I'd think.
    kalev-, Dec 6, 2004
  8. Bob C.

    Robert Lundy Guest

    You might want to download the trial of powerdvd6. It has a smart
    stretch function built in that is accessible from more programs/cyberlink
    settings. it also has a "vivid" mode that can brighten satellite sd content
    that is overcompressed.

    Robert Lundy, Dec 7, 2004
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