REALmagic Hollywood Plus MPEG decoder card

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REALmagic Hollywood Plus MPEG decoder card

The award-winning REALmagic Hollywood Plus, the de facto standard for PC DVD playback, showcases the true visual and audio brilliance of DVD. Add the ...

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Review of "REALmagic Hollywood Plus MPEG decoder card"

published 03/02/2001 | JimThorley
Member since : 13/01/2001
Reviews : 41
Members who trust : 4
About me :
Excellent
Pro Lots of useful features, great playback quality
Cons If you're using a high-resolution desktop, some slight degradation of picture clarity may be noticeable
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"The best DVD decoder card by far"

The H+ card is, without a doubt, the best DVD decoder card available on the market right now. Even most of it's "competition" are just different cards which use the same chipset (like the Creative DXR2) or just plain old carbon copies re-badged (like the Videologic DVD Player.) So Sigma Designs must be doing something right...

The card itself is about as easy to install as they come; just run the installation disc to load the drivers up, then open your computer up. The card itself just pops in an empty PCI slot, and then it's just a case of hooking up the sound cable and the VGA passthrough cable (both included) and you're good to go.

As far as playback is concerned, well, it's pretty much faultless. The card itself takes virtually all the processing load off of the computer, so much so that even on my clapped-out old PII-266 I could run all sorts of programs in the background without so much as a judder in the picture. Try doing that with a software decoding package... Since the card uses an analogue overlay to display the picture on the screen, you have to make sure you hook the monitor up correctly (the monitor plugs into the H+ card, and the pass-through cable runs from your graphics card to your H+) otehrwise you'll end up sat watching a green rectangle on the screen. Some users have reported that the movie picture quality on a monitor is marginally better using software decoding, and that the rest of the screen is slightly degraded by the pass-through cable, but to be honest I've never noticed this, even when I've been looking for it. But, if you're running a very high resolution desktop and you're VERY fussy about your display quality, it might be something to take note of.

The card also supports TV output via S-VHS or composite signal; the picture quality doing this is better than a lot of cheap standalone players, and is far better than you'd get by using software decoding and a TV-Out capable graphics card, so if you're planning on outputting to a TV, a decoder card is the only way to go, in my opinion. The card also has a digital sound output, so you can run the sound to an external DD5.1 or DTS decoder unit and get full 6-channel digital surround sound. So a PC with this card could quite easily take the place of a "standard" DVD player. The TV output only outputs the DVD movie signal to a TV, though, so you can't use it for playing games on your TV, for exmple.

The card can easily be "fixed" to make it region-free and disable Macrovision using one of a number of available freeware utilities, and it can also force an NTSC video signal into a PAL one, and vice-versa, which makes it even more useful as a replacement for a standalone DVD player.

All in all, a brilliant little card. As a PC-DVD player, it does just about everything you could expect it to, and puts almost no load on your computer's CPU. And when connected to a TV, it boasts many functions that are only usually found on pretty high-end standalone players. A great DVD playback solution all round.

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Product Information : REALmagic Hollywood Plus MPEG decoder card

Manufacturer's product description

The award-winning REALmagic Hollywood Plus, the de facto standard for PC DVD playback, showcases the true visual and audio brilliance of DVD. Add the affordable, fully integrated Hollywood Plus to any PC with a DVD drive and discover what hundreds of thousands of satisfied Hollywood Plus customers have: the world's best DVD experience, bar none. Experience theater-like video and audio that only DVD can provide. Hollywood Plus is fully optimized to provide unprecedented DVD and MPEG-2 video quality and performance. Progressive digital video output assures fluid flicker-free playback resolutions up to 1600 x 1200. Hollywood Plus' advanced TV encoder and 10-bit video DAC precisely output video to your TV, giving you a truly immersive visual experience unmatched by any high-end consumer DVD player on the market. Simply plug it into your HDTV's VGA connector for true progressive DVD playback.

Product Details

Product Description: REALmagic Hollywood Plus MPEG decoder card

Device Type: MPEG decoder card

Bus Type: PCI

Max Resolution: 1600 x 1200

Interfaces: 1 x S-video output - 4 PIN mini-DIN ¦ 1 x VGA output - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15) ¦ 1 x audio line-out - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm ¦ 1 x VGA output - 9 PIN mini-DIN ¦ 1 x SPDIF line-out - RCA ¦ 1 x composite video output - RCA

Package Type: Retail

General

MPN: 49381

Device Type: MPEG decoder card

Bus Type: PCI

Max Resolution: 1600 x 1200

Interfaces: 1 x S-video output - 4 PIN mini-DIN - female ¦ 1 x VGA output - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15) - female ¦ 1 x audio line-out - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm - female ¦ 1 x VGA output - 9 PIN mini-DIN - female ¦ 1 x SPDIF line-out - RCA - female ¦ 1 x composite video output - RCA - female

Video Output

Supported Display Graphics: VGA (640x480), XGA (1024x768), SVGA (800x600), SXGA (1280x1024)

Analogue Video Format: NTSC, PAL

System Requirements

OS Required: Microsoft Windows 95/98, Microsoft Windows 2000 / NT4.0

Min Processor Type: Intel Pentium 133 MHz

Min RAM Size: 16 MB

Min Hard Drive Space: 2 MB

Additional Requirements: DVD-ROM, speakers

Miscellaneous

Software Included: Drivers & Utilities

Package Type: Retail

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Listed on Ciao since: 08/06/2000