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Thread: Newer DVD players that support the Windows Media (a.k.a. DivX) format?

  1. #1
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    Newer DVD players that support the Windows Media (a.k.a. DivX) format?

    This is not directly Tivo related….

    Has anyone had experience with the newer DVD players that support the Windows Media (a.k.a. DivX) format?

    For that last few weeks I have been evaluating MPEG2 capture cards for the PC, (In my opinion the Hauppauge WinTV PVR250, which does hardware MPEG 2 encoding blows away the quality of the software encoders offered by ATI and others even when used on a much slower machine. The PVR250 was tested on a 800mhz machine, I ran the software encoders on a 1.2 ghz platform. However the PVR250 recording software tries to look ‘sleek’ rather than ‘functional’ which makes it a little slow and clumsy.)

    I found that scheduling recording on any of the PC cards to be problematic.

    Anyway, after finding PC based MPEG2 capture solutions that did as good or better a job of capturing quality wise as Tivo/ReplayTV I decided to take a look at what advances had been made in MPEG4. While MPEG4 had always looked promising, transcoding to it way always much slower even than changing the format of MPEG2 files and fast motion generally was had poor quality. (I knew the quality had improved a great deal in the last year, but had not examined it.) So I did not hold out a lot of hope for real-time encoding.

    I started with Windows Media Encoder 4.1 ($Free) which works with a wide range of low end capture cards. (You may have to play some to get ATI cards to work.). Testing was conducted on a 1.2 ghz Pent III platform. At a 100k bit rate I was able to get a picture that was far below basic quality, but could be watched and had good audio. (I set the audio capture to 48khz as the sound is more important to me than the picture.) Quality improved at higher bit rates, but motion capture at all rates was bad.

    I then tried the 7.1 WME encoder ($Free) and got it to work with an one of the early release of the Hauppauge 901 encoder cards (WME has more strict hardware requirements. The 901 was the first card that I could get to work with it after several of the ATI’s failed. THe PVR250 also failed on intiial testing.). Testing was again conducted on a 1.2 ghz Pent III platform.

    It blew me away.

    While I could not find a setting that I would equate to Tivo’s best quality, the other rates can be achieved with a fraction of the space requirements using the WM8 format. I built a custom 1mb bit rate file that has great quality (Tivo’s Basic rate is 2mb so I get about 2 hours of recording per GB or 9 hours per DVD.). If you record at slower WM8 formats, you can get 3 hours of video at at least Tivo’s basic rate quality on a CD, or about 19 hours on a DVD.

    Anyway I have seen that some of the newer DVD plays are supposed to handle this format, and I would like to know if anyone has tried it? If so, what format settings do these players allow?

  2. #2
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    Oh well... After some research at the store and some web sites it looks like the current DVD players support of the windows media format is limited to the audio format, without support for the video... Will just have to wait a while...

  3. #3
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    While it will not produce media that can be played back in a DVD player, I notice the the 7.1 encoder will stream and transcode tivo Mpeg2 files, like those produced by ReMux when the system is equiped with the Elecard codec. Since the stream/conversion is taking place in realtime, the AV will remain in sync on the output. The result is that a 2 hour movie at a high bitrate can be transcoded to a 1gb file with good clarity and motion. A filter should be made with a 1mbps bandwith WM8 format and a 320x240 screen size and 64Mhz sound. (Mpeg 4 scales well, and the screen sizes are choosen from presets.)

    For a test I transcoded the first 11 and 1/2minutes of the first episode of 'Witch Blade'. It had lots of actions and a good explosion. The resulting file was 85 megs. The results were not DVD quality, but look liked like a High Quality recording made on a Stand alone with the 'Soften' option turned on, (the one that can be used to blur cable video slightly to hide noise.) It was noticable on a when played bac on at 1024x768 but would probably look fine if piped to a tv.

    Just thought someone might be interested.

  4. #4
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    xbox

    xbox will play divx

  5. #5
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    It will play divx out of the box?
    If so I see a sudden drop in my toy budget...

  6. #6
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    xbox doesn't play divx out of the box - you would need a mod chip and some unofficial software

  7. #7
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    Windows Media is NOT DivX it is a M$ modification of the MPEG4 format that DivX is(DivX is to MPEG4 what LAME is to the MP3 format).

    That being the case, what your really asking for is a DVD player capable of playing MPEG4, of which there are none nor will there be until MPEG4 becomes an official MPEG standard. This is something LOTS of people are waiting for because of its superb quality at low bitrates.

    Sigma Designs though, has a PCI card that is to DivX what the H+ is to DVD(its basically an H+ with DivX support and some other new features).

    Back to the Windows Media format... M$ took the MPEG4 compression scheme, changed some things and then wrapped it into their WMA format that requires their software to unwrap because of its "copy protection" schemes. The original WMA format did not do any of this encoded wrapping, so you'll see lots of MP3 chips able to decode WMA files that use MP3 as the actual encoding, but with the new WMV formats that use MPEG4 you won't see that because of the copy protection thing.

    So basically, if you want true MPEG4, just use DivX =)
    --
    Steven Adeff
    AIM: IndieRockSteve
    http://www.jobs-khakis-chicks.com/TivoLinux/

  8. #8
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    For one thing the windows encoder can encode anything IN SYNC that can be played back on a windows platform. They also offer full tools to encode in realtime to a file while streaming to a web connection. For my current requirements it makes it far more useful for what I am doing.

  9. #9
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    From what I was able to dig up, it looks like it requires the mod chip for the divx player, and that it will not handle win media.

  10. #10
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    Aug 2002
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    set top mpg4 player

    http://www.kiss-technology.com/news/content.asp?id=44

    Useing some of Xvid's, open source code.
    Has to be ISO compliant.
    Not divx-3 or 4 (Header change maybe)
    Xvid and divx-5 with limits ok.
    Last edited by wh1212; 08-31-2002 at 11:40 PM.

  11. #11
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    sweet they are using SigmaDesigns chip =)

    that player looks cool...
    --
    Steven Adeff
    AIM: IndieRockSteve
    http://www.jobs-khakis-chicks.com/TivoLinux/

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