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Hollywood+ DVD decoder card

Old 05-16-02, 03:09 AM
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Hollywood+ DVD decoder card

Do you recommend it. I assume I'll be stuck with the software forever, so how is it?

Also, will the Hollywood+ card work with any DVD-ROM drive or do I need a specific model?
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Old 05-16-02, 03:57 AM
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The Hollywood Plus will work with any DVD-ROM drive. And yes, you will be stuck with the player software that comes with the card.

The card relies on an analog pass through connector, so they provide a stubby little cable that goes from your video card to the H+ and then you plug the cable from the monitor into the H+.

This pass through actually degrades the quality of the video signal coming from the video card. Some people don't notice it at all, but many others find it unacceptable.

The DVD video that's displayed on the monitor is okay. It's watchable, but it's not nearly as good as a purely software based player. This is mainly due to the analog pass-through system that they use.

The DVD video that's output through the S-Video connector to a TV is pretty good. When I last compared it a couple years ago, it was pretty close to a budget standalone DVD player. You just don't have the convenience of an infrared remote, though I seem to recall that Sigma Designs had one available as an accessory.
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Old 05-16-02, 04:45 AM
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Originally posted by belboz


The DVD video that's displayed on the monitor is okay. It's watchable, but it's not nearly as good as a purely software based player. This is mainly due to the analog pass-through system that they use.
Wouldn't the pass through only affect video from your graphics card? The decoder is doing the graphics for DVDs, and the decoder card is connected directly to the monitor, so shouldn't that provide the aboluste best connection for DVDs?

Only normal computer graphics have to go through the "pass through" while the DVDs graphics are connected directly to the monitor, right?
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Old 05-16-02, 06:06 AM
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Sorry, I guess I should have been more clear. It's not the pass-through per se that degrades the DVD video image, it's rather the analog overlay inherent in the pass through that I've found to be generally inferior to an all digital solution.

You're right that the DVD video signal generated by the H+ card doesn't have to go through the extraneous filtering that the video from your VGA card has to go through, but apparently there's some limitation in the overlay process that softens the image nevertheless. I couldn't tell you what that limitation is except to say that I've seen it in every analog overlay system I've ever used.

I'd guess that theoretically, you could design an analog overlay system that rivaled the quality of an all digital system, but in practice I've never seen such a beast.

At the time that I bought the H+ card, I was already using a Quadrant (now Ravisent) hardware decoder card. That unit relied on the PCI bus to transfer the DVD video information directly to the video card's frame buffer. They were calling this a "digital inlay" process at the time. I believe this is the same technique that's used by most PCI TV tuner cards nowadays.
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Old 05-16-02, 12:44 PM
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So is there a better Decoder card than the Hollywood+? Which card should I get?
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Old 05-16-02, 04:00 PM
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Also, will the Hollywood+ software decode DTS sound into 4 channels, like the new versions of WINDVD do?
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Old 05-16-02, 06:33 PM
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So is there a better Decoder card than the Hollywood+? Which card should I get?
The ATI Radeon is a favorite with the high-end HT buffs at AVS Forum (many of whom are running projector setups).

I bought a Radeon DDR 32mb for $47 delivered a few weeks ago. I am using a similar Radeon card in my HTPC, the video card of which is directly attached to my widescreen.

RD
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Old 05-17-02, 02:26 PM
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Originally posted by agent2099
So is there a better Decoder card than the Hollywood+? Which card should I get?
Well, hardware decoder cards are sort of a dying breed. Faster CPUs and video cards with better video encoders (ie TV output) have sort of eliminated the market for the hardware decoder card. I'd guess that's why Sigma hasn't updated the H+ card in so long. The Quadrant card that I mentioned definitely provided better picture quality on the computer monitor, but it was plagued with so many other problems that it was really unusable.

Unfortunately, I really don't have any recommendations as to a better hardware DVD decoder card. Some of the new video cards offer quite a bit of DVD acceleration (motion compensation, colorspace conversion, etc.). If your CPU was marginal with purely software DVD playback, maybe a new video card would offer enough of an assist to make it feasible?

Originally posted by agent2099
Also, will the Hollywood+ software decode DTS sound into 4 channels, like the new versions of WINDVD do?
I've never had any interest in DTS, so I quite frankly I've not bothered looking into it. While the H+ offered the standard DD 5.1 output and the downmixed 2 channel analog output, I don't believe it could downmix the 5.1 to a 4 channel analog output. If it didn't do it for DD 5.1, I wouldn't think it'd do it for DTS. Unless there's been an update to the product that I'm not aware of.
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