Multimedia Issues Conway AR
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Posted by : Stephen J. Bigelow Tech Advisorhed: Multimedia issuesdek; also, the pain of fatal errors.by Stephen J. Bigelow
Q: Is it better for me to use an MPEG decoder card with my DVD drive, or should I use a software decoder like SoftDVD?
A: The answer to that question will depend on your particular system. The video data on your DVD videodiscs is encoded into MPEG-2 format. MPEG-2 offers terrific compression, so it's possible to fit a lot of video data on the disc.
Unfortunately, MPEG-2 uses a fairly complex mathematical algorithm to decode that data back into usable video frames. DVD-ROM drives originally used a separate PCI MPEG-2 decoder card. The MPEG-2 decoder offloads these redundant tasks from the system CPU, which usually results in very uniform video playback quality on a wide range of both older and newer systems.
Since CPUs are much faster now than they were when DVD-ROM drives were first introduced, many PC makers and end-users are foregoing MPEG-2 cards in favor of software-based MPEG-2 decoder utilities.
So long as your PC meets the recommended system requirements for software decoding (processor speed, memory, operating system version, and so on), you should get fine performance from a software decoder, and save the cost (and installation hassle) of an MPEG-2 decoder card.
If your system only barely makes the minimum system requirements for software decoding, or if you have a knack for running other applications in the background...