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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just can't seem to achieve reliable DVD playback. It's come down to not even caring about picture quality anymore.


I can't take anymore if this crap. I've tried umpteen different things including replacing my DVD drive, video card, operating system and various software/hardware DVD players.


All same result: freezing and stuttering, especially on longer movies towards the end and sometimes after fast forwarding, track skipping.


I'm pretty damn close to buying a stand alone player. But I'd like to give it another chance.


Here's my system:


ATI AIW Radeon 7500, used to have 8500DV, same results

Windows XP, SP1

Pentium III 500, 256 MB, Abit BX-20 Motherboard.

AA Transcoder, 856x484 res.

DVD players: ATI MMC, PowerDVD an Realmagic Hollywood+ dedicated board (Realmagic has worst PQ, but is most reliable)

DVD Drive: Liteon LTD163D, DMA set properly

Use to have Pioneer DVD drive, no difference.

Soundblaster Live! 5.1


So where do I start? I could replace everything, but I'd rather not drop $1000 if one or two things will do it.


Faster processor?

and/or

New Motherboard?

and/or

High end DVD drive (and where would I find one)?


PLEASE HELP!!!
 

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I think your biggest problem is your OS. 500 Mhz isn't probably fast enough for XP and all of its services. You might try slimming it down ( remove as much in the system tray as you can and turn off un-needed services). Your best bet is Win 98 SE or Win 98 Lite. I think they were also working on an XP Lite but I have not visited the site in months.

http://www.litepc.com
 

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I have essentiallyt the same system as you do. here is my setup


PIII 300 mhz

ati radeon 7500

hercules gamesurround fortissimo II

catalyst 2.3

ati dvd 7.6

powerdvd 4.0

zoomplayer 2.90

384 mb ram

win XP pro

logitech wireless keyboard and mouse optical

liteon dvd drive

daemon tools 3.17 to mound dvd images on hard drive

dvd decryptor to make hard drive iso images

100 gb 7200 rpm hard drive

cineplayer 1.5

powerstrip with 720x480p




I WILL TELL YOU HONESTLY

Everything in this system works perfectly. I never have anything crash period. I never have a dropped frame in a movie period. Everything is perfect here (finally). Here are a few 'must do's'


1 you must have alot of ram for such a slow system

2 you must use zoomplayer with either the cineplayer 1.5 or cineplayer 4 for video

3 you must use the powerdvd for waveout for audio

4. you cannot use the powerdvd or windvd or windows mediaplayer or video will stutter... zoomplayer is only one that will work for me and this slow machine.


try the above, i mean, my machine is much slower than yours and my picture is perfect. and believe me i am picky.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by jkaiser
I think your biggest problem is your OS. 500 Mhz isn't probably fast enough for XP and all of its services. You might try slimming it down ( remove as much in the system tray as you can and turn off un-needed services). Your best bet is Win 98 SE or Win 98 Lite. I think they were also working on an XP Lite but I have not visited the site in months.

http://www.litepc.com
I wonder how right you are. I've considered that too, but really, I would rather upgrade the hardware than the operating system. My HTPC does alot more than just play movies, and it would take literally days to convert to '98.


I appreciate the advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by lisadaveh



(SNIP)


I WILL TELL YOU HONESTLY

Everything in this system works perfectly. I never have anything crash period. I never have a dropped frame in a movie period. Everything is perfect here (finally). Here are a few 'must do's'


1 you must have alot of ram for such a slow system

2 you must use zoomplayer with either the cineplayer 1.5 or cineplayer 4 for video

3 you must use the powerdvd for waveout for audio

4. you cannot use the powerdvd or windvd or windows mediaplayer or video will stutter... zoomplayer is only one that will work for me and this slow machine.


try the above, i mean, my machine is much slower than yours and my picture is perfect. and believe me i am picky.


256MB isn't enough?


Can you explain this to me? I don't understand what you mean when you say "use Zoom Player" but also "use PowerDVD for audio" but don't use PowerDVD.


Thanks for your help.
 

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Realmagic Hollywood+ dedicated board, When say Realmagic has the worst PQ are ref to the VGA Pass overlay window?.

I own Hollywood+ and now have an Xcard I have say the Xcard dose better with PQ over H+ but both card do damm good with S-Video/Composite output.

pawn 256MB is more then enough memory even for XP

Sound more like heat build up problem which can cause the DVD drive to do that.
 

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pawn...

ZoomPlayer is what's called a frontend... it's shareware (meaning... try it, if you like it and find yourself using it on a regular basis then your conscience will encourage you to give a donation to its creator) it provides the user interface with many, many options and features.... however, it does not contain any filters (that's the software that decodes the audio and video), you must purchase these from their creators (WinDVD, PowerDVD, Sonic CinePlayer). Each has 2 filters: an audio filter and a video filter. ZoomPlayer allows you to mix and match these filters if you have them on your system. (It appears you have the PowerDVD filters and the CinePlayer4 filters from ATI if its the older version.) I think Lisa is suggesting you download and install ZoomPlayer and then use the CinePlayer video filter with the PowerDVD audio filter. I hope that unravels the confusion for you.


I might suggest you use the Windows Task Manager to determine how much CPU you're actually using and what else is loaded and running at the same time. Hopefully usage is much less than 70%. Your system should not be 'choking' on simple DVD playing regardless of which DVD software you are using or which OS you're running. Some things to check: Make sure you have hardware acceleration turned on. It's very important that you are using the latest SoundBlaster Live! drivers. I had problems very similar to those you describe before I up-dated to their latest drivers. Also make sure your DVDs are clean (ie. no fingerprints, radial scratches, etc) You make no mention how you are handling your sound... this might also be an important clue.


Everyone one of us can relate to your frustrations... we've all been there and will be back there in the future... hang in there, try to remember this is a hobby and learning is sometimes painful... but when you finally do get it all right (and you will eventually) it makes it all that much sweeter.

-- good luck!
 

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I have a Sony laptop with similar specs. 500Mhz Pentium III, 256MB RAM. I had pretty decent playback under Windows 2000, but when I upgraded to XP it was enough to push it over the edge.


Playing around with different front ends and filter graphs may result in acceptable playback, but you'd be living close to the edge. If you can afford it I think you'd be much better off spending about $200 to upgrade the motherboard, CPU, and RAM.


To save money, I would recommend getting a motherboard that takes PC133 SDRAM rather than DDR. PC133 is incredibly cheap these days (well under $50 for 512MB), and you could probably even keep your existing RAM if you wanted. With a DDR board you'd be forced to get all new RAM at a much higher price and no real benefit for an HTPC.


The motherboard should run you around $100. The Intel D845WNL might be a good choice. For about $57 you can get a 1.7Ghz celeron (Pentium 4 based). An Intel-based motherboard and CPU are probably the best bet for compatibility and stability for this type of system. I have a couple Athlon systems but they wouldn't be my first choice for an HTPC.


--

Steve
 

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Pawn...take everyone's advice here...don't give up...and monomer is right...it can be very frustrating but rewarding when you get it right. The problem is every conceiveable combination of HW, OS, and SW presents its own set of problems...not to mention proper configuration of these combinations. You will read about solutions in these threads for stuttering from simple replacement of the DVD drive, updating drivers, major registry tweaks and everything in between. The following is my two cents:


1. As others have suggested...start with bare minimum config...add things back when stable.

2. Ensure DMA is enabled

3. DVD drive as master on the secondary IDE channel

4. Logical troubleshooting from this point forward


My system is NOT high end has been very stable...


PIII 450 128K

Win 98SE

Digital Research 16X DVD drive

30MB HDD

Radeon 7500

M-Audio Audiophile 2496

Sonic Cineplayer 1.5 and PowerDVDxp 4.0


Good luck!!!
 

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Oh... you have checked Device Manager and verified you're in DMA mode right? If not, you need to get that fixed first.

Also you might want to review the settings in your BIOS... CAUTION: don't change anything if you don't know what it does... either ask the forum or 'google search' for terms like "BIOS Guide".

Again... while you're watching a DVD try 'CTRL-ALT-DEL' and see what your actual CPU usage is... I maintain it should not be more that ~70% with hardware acceleration turned on. If it is... then that's your problem and you need to click to the next tab to see which program is using what % of the CPU's time... then disable those programs that are hogging the CPU's time.

Please keep us posted...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by monomer
Oh... you have checked Device Manager and verified you're in DMA mode right? If not, you need to get that fixed first.

Also you might want to review the settings in your BIOS... CAUTION: don't change anything if you don't know what it does... either ask the forum or 'google search' for terms like "BIOS Guide".

Again... while you're watching a DVD try 'CTRL-ALT-DEL' and see what your actual CPU usage is... I maintain it should not be more that ~70% with hardware acceleration turned on. If it is... then that's your problem and you need to click to the next tab to see which program is using what % of the CPU's time... then disable those programs that are hogging the CPU's time.

Please keep us posted...


DMA Set properly.


Checked CPU useage: doesn't go above 20% throughout. Not surprising for the Hollywood+, considering it's a dedicated board.


Today, I cleaned the disk completely and played the offending (skipping) part and no problem. Therefore, it's possible my DVD drive is ultra sensitive to defects/smudges.


Or, since today I didn't watch the entire disk and went right to the part where it skipped, it's possible that heat is the offender: my machine is enclosed in a cabinet. I drilled a series of 3" dia. holes for ventilation, maybe it's not enough.


Furthermore, sound card drivers (to whoever suggested it) shouldn't be an issue, since the Hollywood+ has an onboard SP/DIF sound passthrough.


I'm going to play with ZomPlayer today. In all honesty, I'd rather use it than the Hollywood+ since, as I said before, the Hollywood+'s PQ is inferior to the others.


BTW, I looked into a possible hardware upgrade today: not gonna happen. Pentium IV boards have no ISA slots, which is a must for me (modem, multi-serial port board and network card are all ISA). And it really seems uneccesary given the CPU utilization above.


Perhaps "upgrading" from XP to Windows 98SE is the next move.


Thanks again.
 

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You do realize you can get a PCI modem for ~$12 and a network card for ~$14 (I don't know about the multi-serial port card... maybe $24) for a total of $50. But you're right, it is unnecessary in light of the CPU usage. Besides you would almost certainly need another Power Supply.


Overheating of the CPU, memory, video card.... now you're on to something... any of these could cause all kinds of stuttering and freeze-ups. Have you tried opening up the cabinet and forcing air through with a large oscillating fan? then watch something really long like LOTR or Doctor Zhivago and see what happens.


I wouldn't suggest backing up to Win98SE, I have 2 HDs on my system (one with XP and one with 98SE) and anymore I almost never use the Win98 HD. No matter how good some one says the old '65 Mustang was... they just don't make 'em anymore and so they're not as cheap to maintain as a '02 Mustang. (Also they're not as comfortable, safe, reliable, etc.) Win98 is soon to become that '65 Mustang... support for it is quickly drying up... therefore any new programs I install only go on the XP HD (and also think about hardware drivers and up-dates). Win98SE might carry slightly less overhead but for me WinXP has brought a rock-solid stability to my system that I wouldn't trade for anything.
 
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