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 Post subject: Early DVD drives
 Post Posted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 2:46 pm 
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Scott, how were early DVD drives problematic? I passed up a chance to get a DVD drive with a system I got in 1998.


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 Post subject: Re: Early DVD drives
 Post Posted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:45 pm 
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As far as just reading DVD-ROM discs, early DVD drives weren't problematic at all. The real problem with early DVD drive installations was the extra hardware and software required to play DVD video discs, which requires doing MPEG-2 decoding. 400MHz and faster processors can decode MPEG-2 video fast enough for stutter-free playback with a software-based decoder, but when DVDs first came out many processors were simply not fast enough to do this well.

That meant when you ordered a PC in the late-'90s to early '00s equipped with a DVD drive the system builder would often include a hardware based MPEG-2 decoder, which was usually in the form of a secondary pass-through video card that offloaded the MPEG-2 decoding from the system processor. These cards required their own slots and drivers, which greatly added to the complexity and cost of a system. In fact, here is an example of a Dell Dimension V333c from 1998/99 that included exactly that sort of configuration. In the Original System Configuration list you can see a Quadrant Cinemaster DVD decoder card was included. Dell selected this card because it was one of the few with support (i.e. drivers) included in Windows 98.

Fortunately, by the time Windows XP came out in 2001, most systems had processors that were fast enough to do the decoding via software alone, meaning the MPEG-2 decoder cards were no longer required.

It is interesting to note that even though DVDs had become ubiquitous by the mid-'00s, Microsoft still doesn't include an MPEG-2 decoder with all Windows editions even today. For more information on playing DVDs in Windows, see the following article: Playing DVDs in Windows. Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: Early DVD drives
 Post Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:21 pm 
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Scott, I'm preety sure DVD playback is included in windows 7 by default. Am I wrong about this? I have played back DVD on my Windows 7 machine without installing any extra software.


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 Post subject: Re: Early DVD drives
 Post Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:04 pm 
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An MPEG-2 decoder is not included with Windows 7 Starter or Home Basic editions, and Starter is the default offering on most netbooks. Another boneheaded move by Microsoft... Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: Early DVD drives
 Post Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 8:29 am 
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ahhh the starter edition is not even an option for me. Of course neither are netbooks which are too small and too underpowered IMO.


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 Post subject: Re: Early DVD drives
 Post Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:53 pm 
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I just installed 7 Pro on a new PC. It wouldn't play DVDs right away. I ran Windows Update and then installed K-Lite megapack. Audio was good but the pix was distorted (colored blocks). Then I ran Windows Update again and it found more updates. After installing the updates and rebooting the DVD player functioned perfectly. One of the final updates was for the video driver for the motherboard's onboard video chip.


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 Post subject: Re: Early DVD drives
 Post Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:04 pm 
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Note that the K-Lite codec pack is not required to play DVDs on Windows 7 Pro, which includes an MPEG-2 (DVD) decoder by default. Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: Early DVD drives
 Post Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:17 pm 
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So then the ability to play DVDs correctly is due to the last update of the motherboard's video driver via Windows Update rather than the K-Lite codec pack?


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 Post subject: Re: Early DVD drives
 Post Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:37 pm 
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Exactly. Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: Early DVD drives
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:14 pm 
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Clarification: In early 2000, I finally got a DVD drive for the system that I had gotten in 1998.


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