Best PC DVD software
August 25, 2005 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Getting the best DVD picture from my computer. With a computer plugged into a regular LCD display ("HDTV" resolution) what software do I need to make DVD video look great?

VLC, ZoomPlayer, ffdshow, DScaler, TheaterTek, PowerDVD, NVidia PureVideo, etc, etc, etc... I've heard so many things mentioned (DVD players, hardware processors, software processors, filters) that I'm totally confused as to what will give me the best picture.

The setup would be a regular desktop PC with a DVD drive. Video card would be NVidia 7800 GT, connected by DVI to a Dell 2405FPW 24" LCD.

I just want to be able to easily play a DVD in full-screen (well, full-screen with black bars, as the 2405 has a strange aspect ratio) and have it look like it would look if I played it in some good quality progressive scan DVD player that was hooked up to a LCD TV.

If I don't use the NVidia software, will I somehow miss out on the hardware decoding/processing power of my video card? Is this really relevant? Help! Previous AskMe questions about watching DVD on a computer seemed to come to no good conclusion about this stuff.
posted by rxrfrx to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
You have to remember that a DVD does not contain HD-quality video. The maximum vertical resolution of DVD video is 500 lines (typically 480), and when played back full-screen on a monitor capable of 1900 x 1200, it will get blown up more than twice its original size, resulting in fuzziness and graininess -- independent of hardware or software decoding.

There are ways around this, though. What you need is a dedicated video scaler. People with Home Theater PCs and hi-res projectors (or LCD/Plasma screens) use software like DScaler and/or hardware like the PDI Deluxe.
posted by pmbuko at 11:58 AM on August 25, 2005

Response by poster: I'm familiar with the problem: video needs to get blown up quite a bit to be shown on a high-resolution LCD.

pmbuko, what I'm asking is exactly how I should be using software like DScaler, and how I might use it in conjunction with other video hardware/software in an ideal setup.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:07 PM on August 25, 2005

You're all set, for the most part. FYI, I posted about this here
posted by SweetJesus at 1:07 PM on August 25, 2005

Posted too soon. Anyway...

Since you'll be running a 7800 series, take a look at buying Nvidia PureVideo . It works with the 6 Series and above, so you'll be all set. It encodes and decodes ATSC using the graphics card instead of the CPU.

Also, (if you haven't already) take a look at running the overscan wizard, which will help you eliminate those black bars. (It's in the Nvidia section of your display properties.)
posted by SweetJesus at 1:14 PM on August 25, 2005

Response by poster: SweetJesus:

How would I remove black bars if my LCD isn't 16:9? It's 16:10 and anything full-screen would mess up the aspect ratio.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:07 PM on August 25, 2005

How would I remove black bars if my LCD isn't 16:9? It's 16:10 and anything full-screen would mess up the aspect ratio.

With newer NVidia drivers you're allowed to "fine tune" your aspect ratio so it fits exactly within your screen's visible area. Even if your TV is 1900 x 1080, setting your display properties to 1900x1080 is going to cause the top and bottom parts of your screen (desktop) not to display because of overscan.

For example, my HDTV runs in 1080i, but with the Nvidia drivers and overscan compensation the resolution is set to something like 1768x998 so I get my whole desktop. If you're running a 7800 GT (which, in my opinion is overkill, you could get away with a 6600 GT just fine) and PureVideo, I don't think you'll notice any difference considering you're de-interlacing and blowing it up anyway (so what's a little aspect-ratio tweaking?)

Actually, now that I'm thinking about it more, you're going to have the black bar for movies, or it will be a little stretched if you push it out using overscan compensation. But for video games, or just using the computer, overscan compensation will save you a ton of headaches.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:31 AM on August 26, 2005

Response by poster: SJ:

I'm confused. How do I get overscan on a digital LCD display, connected to my computer by DVI? I thought overscan was something having to do with a picture tube.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:09 PM on August 28, 2005

rxrfrx: You may be right, but I thought overscan had more to do with the way TV signals are broadcast (the upper and lower bounds of the "picture" contain closed capture information, SAP, etc) and any TV, CRT or otherwise, doesn't show this 20%.

We have some Plasma's here at work, I'll take a look at screwing around with the overscan on them.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:06 AM on August 31, 2005

« Older What's the best way to sell event tickets that I...   |   Can private citizens still preserve land? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.