NVDVD 2.0

Review

posted 12/14/2002 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
nVidia is well known for their video cards but they’re recently expanding to other areas. But today’s review of a nVidia product doesn’t involve a GeForce card. Today we look at nVidia’s DVD player entitled NVDVD.

nVidia recently released version 2.0 of their NVDVD software and this is what we’re going to look at today. The competition for the software consists of Cyberlink’s PowerDVD and Intersoft’s WinDVD. It’s actually evolving from being a DVD player to being more of a multimedia solution. While it’s optimized for a nVidia GPU, the software will work with a lot of other video cards from other manufacturers that support DirectX 8.0 and higher. For my testing purposes, I used the ABIT Siluro GF4 MX-8X with an AMD Duron 1.2 GHz. Specifically, I tested the software with my homemade PVR that I built a few months ago.

Besides DVD, all the major video and audio formats are also playable. You can use the NVDVD player for MP3s, MPEGs, VCDs, AVIs, JPEGS, and GIFs to name a few. From the list of formats it supports, the program can replace a lot of your other multimedia applications providing and all in one solution for all your playback needs. There’s even karaoke support so you can sing along to your favorite hits if you so desire.

From the looks of the screenshots, you can see how clean the interface is. All the player controls are located in the bottom center of the player. You aren’t limited to the GUI as the player is skinnable. The default skin is pretty nice though. It has a nice clean professional look and all the buttons are clearly labeled. In fact, I preferred the default skin over WinDVD’s. I had no problems accessing the specific function I needed as the design makes it easy to use.h

Sceneshare allows users to share bookmarks of DVDs with other users of NVDVD. You can email or post to a website the file and any user with the same DVD and NVDVD can go to the scene easily. This is pretty helpful for those who want to share easter eggs with their friends such as the Star Wars blooper reels. NVDVD has a nice toolbar to help manage each Sceneshare and you can easily see which one it is that you have saved.

If you have experienced ATi’s TV functionality, you know you can replace your desktop with the TV image so you can work and watch TV at the same time. NVDVD also features this video on the desktop and you can replace your background with a video file you are watching. Now you’re not stuck with a static background but have your favorite movie playing there instead.

Not only can you play DVDs but you can also utilize NVDVD for a picture slideshow with music involved. This is one of the features that help make the NVDVD software a more versatile piece of software. You can easily grab a few pictures and specify various music file formats to play in the background as you flip through the pictures.

If you don’t have time to finish a movie, a nice feature of NVDVD is that the program will automatically save the position of the DVD when you stop it. You can pop in another other movie or CD but once you put the movie that you stopped again, it will start up at the correct spot and you can continue watching without any hassle. You can also keep an index of your favorite scenes so you can jump to them easily.


As you can see from the various menu captures, there are a great number of settings that you can adjust. If you have a digital out from your computer, you can experience Dolby Digital or DTS sound. In setting this up, NVDVD's menus give you a very nice visual display of what speakers are active and offers a calibration option. All the menus were clear and concise giving you plenty of options to tinker with.

Taking a screenshot of a movie is easy. Pressing F6 will capture the current frame into your my Documents folder. A nice little effect of it is that it can recognize some of the DVDs that you put in and name the screenshots with the title of the movie. It seemed to have a problem with the Spider-Man DVD so it saved them in a general name. But the pictures of Lord of the Rings and Gladitor had the title prefaced to the image name. The screenshots are taken in JPEG format, which saves space but you can specify other formats for capturing. Screen capturing is made very simple with NVDVD. Below are screenshots of Spider-Man and Lord of the Rings while the movie was in motion.

The picture quality is pretty good with vibrant colors and a good sharp picture. Comparing it with WinDVD, I really liked what I saw from the movies I tested. Using the program in conjunction with the Abit Siluro GF4 MX-8X, I popped in Star Wars Episode 2, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings Extended Edition, and Terminator 2. All of them looked great on the computer and being outputted to the TV. I have included two screenshots of Gladitor to show the difference between WinDVD and NVDVD. The first picture is the NVDVD shot and the second one was taken with WinDVD. The colors are a little deeper in the NVDVD picture and from the hairs on Russell Crowe’s face the NVDVD program seems to be sharper too. Whereas the WinDVD’s picture has the facial hair being more muddled, you can make out individual hairs more easily in the NVDVD picture. The pictures were captured while the scene was paused.


NVDVD


WinDVD

NVIDIA’s NVDVD 2.0 uses less CPU than WinDVD. When playing Star Wars Episode 2, task manager showed that NVDVD hovered around 35%-45% usage while WinDVD’s CPU usage fluctuated between 45% - 60% on my Duron 1.2GHz machine. For the player to produce a nice quality picture and use less CPU shows that NVIDIA developers know their stuff.

NVIDIA has a pretty good quality program here. They’ve developed a very good DVD player with a clean interface and easy to use. It’s not just a DVD player as it’s evolving into a multimedia program with multiple format support. The picture quality is really good and if you have a GF4 chipset, then you can take advantage of the hardware decoding for a crisp clean picture. CPU usage was low compared to the others. There are many extra features that can enhance your viewing of a DVD along with sharing content and bookmarks with your friends. I’d definitely consider the program if you want a quality DVD viewer for a home theater PC. NVDVD 2.0 has great features and can definitely compete with the more established DVD players out there.





B
The picture's really good and there's a good load of features for the user who loves to watch DVDs on their computer. It features a nice clean GUI and a good layout.