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Video Quality

Now, to the knuckle-cracking, drag-out, no mercy part of the review. Inmatrix is about DVD, and that means the Playback Quality above all!

CoolDVD v2.1 actually did a nice job on the Pentium 3. There, I said it! I cannot bash this player like I wanted to bash the original version (or the happy door)!

Mostly, I saw smooth playback, with adequate clarity, and stable resource use (Unlike the previous version). I hate resource testing. Its an arbitrary way to rate playback that does not truly reflect Quality, but I had to check it here. With players like Cinemaster or WinDVD that make full use of the test system's ATI DVD Hardware Acceleration, I see about 18-24% resource use on a consistent basis. That means over 75% of system resources are available to do other things like write reviews, or log on the web while playing a movie. CoolDVD used over 60% of available system resources, at times tipping 70% on Norton's resource meter. Two attempts to log on the web with a movie playing on the P3 resulted in system freezes from resource starvation. Writing this review with a DVD playing was usually OK, but a couple of tries froze windows. This is my biggest issue with CoolDVD. It is Hungry for system power due to the lack of Hardware Acceleration, and even 600mhz could be overtaxed when multi-tasking with a DVD playing. When run solo, resource use stayed stable around 60+ percent, and playback was consistent.

The quality of solo playback was decent overall. There were some slight glitches seen in most titles, but very slight, as in only visible if you are really looking. Not even full frame drops, just barely seen hesitations here and there. Turning on subtitles increased the frequency and visibility of the hesitations, so it definitely seems to be resource or decode related. In casual viewing the playback of most titles was smooth and regular, with no major video issues that would detract from the overall movie experience.

The Matrix tests were OK aside from the above notes. The "Trinity Vs Cops" scene I use in all reviews played smooth nearly every try, which speaks very well for CoolDVD as many players cannot handle that scene. This includes some that are using Hardware acceleration! However, emails from a few companies may lead me to soon cutting this test. It has become "known" that this is a test I use often, and others do as well. Some companies are tweaking players specifically to pass this test while ignoring other parts of the decode process. I use this test because its a tough scene that often shows decoding weaknesses. Padding a player for that scene, at the cost of other titles (13th Warrior?) now playing poorly, is not quality video. So I may be using a few new glitch scenes in future reviews. (Besides, I've seen The Matrix so often, its starting to give me migraines! [Editor Note: Blasphemy!])

I caught a dark pulsing effect in CoolDVD when playing The Matrix scene where Neo jumps off the building and falls through the street. Its a dark twinkling of the street surface around the section that Neo falls through. It was repeatable, and doesn't show on Cinemaster or WinDVD. The Patriot played OK overall, though with the same contrast problems it shows on most players. CoolDVD also had The Patriot DeInterlace problems that can be seen on most players. Only Cinemaster has played The Patriot for me without the BOB/WEAVE switching problems native to that movie. CoolDVD shows the problem, but actually less than most other players tested.

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