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Video Quality

Okay, the meat of any review! If you noticed, the test-system runs an ATI Rage 128 video card. Why? Because this system was built to play DVD's, and despite 3D game issues and driver quirks, ATI cards have long been the Kings of DVD! Especially when using the iDCT supporting ATI DVD software which is, you guessed it, a CineMaster PLAYER! I was looking forward to Ravisent's latest offering! Could it get any better? All that ATI DVD hardware muscle, coupled with new CineMaster technology? YEAH BABY! Pass the DVD crown now!

The results were just adequate. Don't get me wrong, playback of Sleepy Hollow, Nightmare Before Christmas, and the usual go round with The Matrix, were stable and incident free. All of the Special Features of The Matrix worked fine with no quirks. The player DID seem like it strained some. Using DVD Genie, I enabled registry calls for ATI IDCT acceleration and HARDWARE SUPPORT, as well as all the other performance tweaks available. However playback just never seemed quite as smooth as older ATI CineMaster 3.1 on my system. It was OK, but seemed like it had the occasional jitter or was resource starved. It wasn't BAD, perhaps not even noticeable to the casual watcher? But I suspect the CineMaster 2000 player is choking a bit with its new 4 speaker sound and other added features eating additional resources. Still, it got the job done and was quite watchable. No major complaints once I DVD Genie'd it.

CineMaster has been king of playback controls for a long time. While PowerDVD and WinDVD still struggle with REWIND, CineMaster players always had it down pat! CineMaster 2000 has added multi-speeds to their FF/RW. Overall it's a plus, but it does challenge a bit. There seem to be 2 speeds for each, a normal speed of about 4x, and a new speed we will call WARP SPEED! The player doesn't say how fast either speed actually is, but a click on FF or RW moves it at the 1st speed; and a second click starts it racing! I found the 2nd speed to be TOO fast, to the point of not being able to see what's happening on-screen. An oversight is that once WARP speed is activated, you must click on the PLAY button to return to normal. Clicking the FF/RW button again will not stop the action. Annoying, as at warp speed, it is very hard to go a small amount forward or back and have time to move the mouse to the play button to stop it before you go TOO FAR. Video quality during FF/RW/Pause is excellent, and smooth overall.

One problem is CHAPTER BREAKS. Rewinding through a chapter break frequently hung the rewind, often enough to annoy. Older builds didn't exhibit this behavior, but CineMaster 2000 does. Overall, playback controls are fine, still the smoothest FF/RW out there. The chapter-break hanging on rewind should be addressed, and allow FF/RW buttons to be clicked AGAIN to return to normal speed.

Video Clarity and smoothness was typical CineMaster, sharp, and artifact free. With a fast processor and hardware support, it should do the job for most users. TV-OUTPUT was equally good, and the overall quality of CineMaster 2000 seems to be equal to previous versions. The playback was at least equal to PowerDVD as far as clarity and smoothness. At 400mhz on a Celeron, it probably beats WinDVD by a hair, only because WinDVD is very power hungry and needs more horsepower to really flex its muscles. Any player would benefit from an Athelon/Pentium 3, but such processors do cost money! :)

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