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Paul Nicholson
Nashvegas TN
Digital Marketing guy for Captain D's. Hockey fan, photographer, and father of 2 awesome boys.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

this looks familiar

I have referenced this story before
Once upon a time, when the DVD+RW and DVD-RW camps were battling things out, I had a fledgling media business where I would convert people’s home movies to DVD and author nice fancy menus for them and such. However, I didn’t want to get stuck buying the wrong kinda of DVD burner, so I shelled out nearly $500 for an external Sony “4 format” drive. I assumed it would be a rare beast and that eventually one format would win, but I wanted to cover my bases. Just 6 months after I bought that Sony drive for $500, a truce was declared, 4-format drives became popular, and dropped in price to under $100.

So having learned that lesson, I’m certainly holding off on this. But it is good to know the options are getting better…

Addonics (anyone ever heard of them before?) has finally come out with a sub-$500 drive that will read both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs (while burning old-school DVD+/-RW’s). That’s just fine with me since I can’t even remember the last time I burned a DVD…that’s what network attached storage and set-top media extenders are for these days. I certainly don’t know when I’d need to burn a 25GB disk. This is pretty similar to this LG drive from a few months ago, but i personally still can't find these phantom LG drives for actual sale anywhere. At least the Addonics are available for purchase.

Anyway. With this little toy, all anyone would need is a video card that supports H.264 decoding (they start at around $50) and a decent PC overall and they’d be able to watch HD-DVD and Blu-Ray movies on their PC (not to mention the tons of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD software that is out there…oh wait…there isn’t any). Total price (assuming you have a PC that is a year old or less) to get you to the HD promised land would run a total of about $500. Much better than, say, the few stand-alone dual-format players that run upwards of $999. Ouch.


jc said...

I recently bought a pc, from work, cause it was a great deal. My after thought was to digitize my DVD library (currently pushing 500 DVDs) and connect to my 42" LCD HDTV. So it is connected, but I have yet to find the video connection that gives me the quality that my upconverting DVD player gives me.

We should talk.

Paul Nicholson said...

We can chat, but as far as giving you the quality you're looking for, there are a few good DVD players out there, but i'd recommend PowerDVD. Then output via DVI/HDMI to your TV's native resolution for best picture.

That is assuming you're just straight ripping the DVD's and leaving the VOB files intact (best quality option, but big sizes). If you are re-compressing to DivX or something like that, you're going to lose a bit of quality. No way around that.

jc said...

I am only compressing when needed, I usually remove all but the main movie. I have been burning to disc, all 440 movies. Because until now I didnt have a pc connected to my TV. Now I am in the process of re-ripping my DVDs and creating a ISO image and mounting that image with Deamon Tools when I want to view. I have my pc connected DVI>HDMI to my TV. My issue at present is getting the resolution I want. I cant get a good resolution with a decent refresh rate. Not via HDMI. I can when I do it DVIw/VGA adapter and connect VGA to TV. But the pic quality is a bit hazy.

We will have to connect & chat for sure.

Paul Nicholson said...

I'm about to get tough to get a hold of, but i'm still at the office tomorrow...

Short answer is to look at your TV's manual and see what the native resolution of the TV is. Set your resolution there and you should be set. Refresh rates can be important, but not as much as resolutions. Most HDTV's will be 50, 60, or 70 Hz refresh rates, so just see what works.

jc said...

my TV says native 1366x768 60mhz.

I cant get that option when I connect DVI/HDMI. well not that refresh rate anyways. I can only get it with DVI/VGA adapter to VGA on my TV. It fils the screen, but only looks "decent". Not nearly as good as my upconverting DVD player connected via HDMI. Was really hoping to catalog my entire DVD collecion on externals and watch all my movies via the pc, so far that doesnt seem to be the way its ending up. I wont sacrafice vid quality for ease of access.

I have created a nice movie database using "movie collectorz" software. Should check it out, they have it for all types of media, not just DVDS. So right now I use the pc to "thumb" through my collection visually and then decide what to watch. I am going to catalog all of my music on the media center pc so at least I can use the pc to manage and play all my music via 5.1 Dobly Digital.

Not gonna lie, its really nice to surf for the big comfy couch.

Paul Nicholson said...

yeah, i'm getting closer and closer to that kinda setup. I just got a PS3 and it can access any UPnP server, including Media Center, etc.

I too use Collectorz.com stuff for my movies but use Catraxx and BookCat (from fnprg) for music and books. They are all about equal now, but when i first started using these about 2 years ago, Collectorz was great for movies but not nearly as complete at Catraxx for music. I'd say they're about equal now.

As far as the resolution only working through VGA not through DVI...not sure what the issue is there. My guess would be video card settings. I've seen a few cards that don't correctly detect what a monitor is capable of so they don't offer certain modes. You can usually force it to display all modes the card is capable of and then output accordingly.

Having said that, you are going to have a hard time beating the quality of an upconverting DVD player for any ripped (and especially re-compressed) media coming out of your PC.

jc said...

well all the movies I play on that upconverting player are ripped and sometimes compressed a bit. Again I try to rip everything but the main movie and sometimes the menu. I get rid of all the subs, unless needed, all the other audio except 5.1 and all extras. That usually brings it down a ton. I need to learn how to "force" my vid card.