Hardware DEcoders

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Hi all! I just want to share a comment on hardware decoders because it seems not to be much discussion on this topic here.

These cards usually occupy a PCI slot and I would strongly suggest anyone to have one of this, because the image quality that it offers is way better than ANY software player. Plus it can play DVDs (if you have a DVD-ROM), any MPEG1 or MPEG-2 file at full frame 720x480/576, no jittering, progressive or interlaced (and progressive FROM interlaced sources... great!) without the need of a supercomputer. It is also cheaper than having a processor upgrade just to improve VCD watching, as these cards are always in the vicinity of us$100. Mine is a Hollywood Plus, working in a K6/233-32MB ram (not precisely a HAL-9000 ;). It also provides both way PAL/NTSC conversion on the fly, and has dolby digital output for sound, composite and S-video TV outputs, etc. Here is the website if you're interested:


Disclaimer: I'm not related to this brand in any way, nor I think it is the best mpeg hardware decoder. It is just the one I own (and know) and I'm very satisfied with it and I wouldn't hesitate to criticize it if deserved. I'm posting this here because a friend and regular participant of this forum encouraged me to do so after exchanging some comments in private.

I'd also like to know about other brands and experiences with hardware decoders. Byebyes!!

-- Matias (petrellm@telefonica.com.ar), January 04, 2000


H/w MPEG decoders are nice, but the reason perhaps nobody really sees s/w decoders a big problem is because once the VCD is created we make a beeline to our DVD set-top player which will always provide the best situation and judge as to whether or not our creations will work, and work as expected. I once had such a card that came with a Creative DVD-ROM 6x but discontinued using it because for one it had region coding limitations that couldn't always be overcome by those little apps floating around the net for doing so (like DVDGenie), and it occupied a precious PCI slot that I needed. And it really didn't provide an impartial test of the VCDs I created, which might play beautifully with it on my PC, but not on a dedicated set-top. In the end, having a cheap Pioneer DV525 and Philips 830 seemed better.

-- EMartinez (epmartinez@hotmail.com), January 05, 2000.

Thanks for your comments Emartinez. Yes, it sounds reasonable what you say. This is a VCD forum mainly, but perhaps a good reason for having this is MPEG-2 decoding. Since the majority of us make our own VCDs from home-made videos, and almost all agree that no matter how much effort/research you put on the job, the 325x240/1150kbps is an unbeatable limitant for quality. Then MPEG-2 encoding could better save the effort and hours put in the edition, and playing a MPEG-2 file from a CD-ROM is not a thing that a DVD can do right now. Well, that's my personal opinion anyway...

-- Matias (petrellm@telefonica.com.ar), January 06, 2000.

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