If you're interested in HD DVD and are using Windows Vista, please take a moment to respond to this poll regarding full HD DVD integration into Vista Media Center.
Well, though it's not "officially" supported by Microsoft it is no secret that the XBox 360 HD DVD add-on will work quite well with a PC, providing you have a powerful enough system. All you really need in addition to the add-on is Cyberlink's PowerDVD Ultra, which you can purchase here
to play HD DVD discs (some claim they have been able to purchase it for considerably less on eBay, so YMMV). Read PowerDVD Ultra's system requirements
to make sure your HTPC is up to par. I recommend* a video card with a dedicated unified video decoder (UVD) such as ATI's 2400
series . These will perform excellent VC-1 and AVC decoding** for you instead of relying more on the CPU. If you also want to enjoy games on the HTPC then go for a 3800 series card.* Please note, I do not recommend ATI 2900 series cards as these do not have the UVD and will not offload VC-1 and AVC decoding.
** Read more about VC-1 and AVC decoding here and here. Click here for ATI HD2x00 HTPC Registry Tweaks (thanks ExDeus).***
Before we continue you may be pleased to know that until February 28, 2008 you can receive 5 FREE HD DVD
titles from Toshiba with the purchase of the XBox 360 HD DVD drive for a total of 6 as King Kong is already included in the box. This also applies to any Toshiba laptop pre-configured with an HD DVD drive or any Toshiba standalone HD DVD player. Details are here for American customers
and here for Canadian customers
Get HD DVD Up And Running
Getting HD DVD playback to work is fairly straightforward. Plug in the HD DVD add-on (USB 2.0 required), power it on, let Windows recognize the drive and install PowerDVD Ultra from Cyberlink. By the way, in addition to Windows XP (SP2) I can confirm that the latest version of PowerDVD Ultra works with both Vista x86 and Vista x64 as well. For Windows XP Microsoft has released a driver for the two "XBox 360 HD DVD Memory Unit" devices for Windows XP. Just run Windows Update
. Vista will install drivers as well.PowerDVD Ultra - Playback Tips
Below are a few tips in achieving the best possible quality with PowerDVD Ultra. Try to play an HD DVD after each step. Start off with a title encoded in VC-1, such as King Kong. Assuming that you are already running the latest build
of PowerDVD Ultra and only have your primary display/monitor connected (no secondary):
- Set Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering settings to default/off in your video card's control panel
- Make sure your monitor's refresh rate is 60 Hz, 72 Hz or 120 Hz only
- Uncheck Hardware Acceleration if it does not appear to be working on your system
- If enabled, turn off Video Enhancement
- Use the "Original" color profile only
- Set De-Interlacing Mode to "None" (Optional)
- Set Video Quality to "Best" (May increase CPU usage. While video is playing, Right-click -> Configuration -> Video -> Advanced -> Video Quality)
- Set Audio Output Mode to "No Effect"
Make sure that you don't have any other background processes running that may be eating up considerable CPU cycles. If you're not getting good playback then try downloading ReClock
and turn "Force Reclock to be loaded in place of default DirectSound/Wave renderers" to ON and all other force settings to OFF.
Feel free to PM me with any additional tips or suggestions!Vista Media Center
For Vista Media Center users, there is currently no integrated HD DVD playback solution within VMC at this time. There is a stop-gap solution, however, that has been posted here
"I was very excited when Cyberlink released PowerDVD Ultra late last year. That was until I purchased it and installed it on my Vista Media Center only to find out that it didn't integrate into Media Center at all. Just inserting a HD DVD disk while the Media Center shell was up gave this error.
After the initial disappointment wore off I did some searching and found an Article
by Peter Dampier on the Media Center Sandbox blog
. This article was meant for companies like Cyberlink to show them how to register HD DVD (and blue ray) disks with Vista Media Center. I was still disappointed that there was no way to play back HD DVD movies directly in the Media Center shell but at least this blog posting showed how I could at least register HD DVD with Vista Media Center.
To accomplish this create an XML file with the code below in it.
If you installed PowerDVD to another location edit the path to match your system. Next from a command prompt (if you have user account control enabled make sure it's an elevated command prompt) and run C:\\Windows\\ehome\\RegisterMCEApp.exe /allusers , replace with the path and name to the XML file you created earlier.
Now when you insert a HD DVD disk with Vista Media Center in full screen mode, it will minimize and launch PowerDVD Ultra and begin playback of the disk.
Now, say you have a disk already inserted and you don't want to get up to re-insert it. Create a file named PowerDVD.mcl
with the code below in it.
Again if you installed to a different location edit the file to point to your install. Move the file to C:\\Users\\username\\AppData\\Roaming\\Media Center Programs
. If Media Center was running close it and re-open it and now in the more programs sections is a link to fire up PowerDVD Ultra."