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Video Quality

Clarity was adequate on all titles. Not in the WinDVD or Cinemaster realm, but very acceptable. Playback of newly released collectors edition of THE CROW was very nice. Sharp edges to objects, and good light/dark transitions. Color saturation on CoolDVD was good, though after just seeing SoftDVD-v6, I'm spoiled by great color! But it was good both on the monitor and TV-OUT, though the monitor seemed better.

Fast-Forward and Rewind both work adequately, but neither is perfect. Both have settings of 2x/4x/8x as selected from the button sub-menus. The 2x speeds are very nice actually, Especially the RW. At 4x there is some flutter, mostly on the FF control. It speeds up fine, then slows down to a near crawl, catches its breath and speeds back up. 8x shows the same issue as 4x, but worse to the point I don't recommend it for general use. On the Celeron, 8x actually locked the player a few times. This is likely another example of the power issues when a player doesn't use DVD Hardware Acceleration. DVD playback is one of the most demanding tasks a PC can perform, especially when using FF/RW. Hardware assistance really lightens the load on the system and prevents problems. The 2x and 4x speeds were perfectly useable, but the poor response of the 8x FF made me switch to the TIME-SLIDER when I wanted to seek more than a small amount forward or backward. Amazingly, the FF and RW at 2x, and even 4x; were smoother than most players that have good DVD Hardware Acceleration support. CoolDVD isn't perfect with speeds, but they are definitely doing something right.

Subtitles affected playback slightly. The subtitles themselves were clear and sharp, but they increased the frequency of the previously mentioned minor hesitations. There is no support for Closed Captions, which is probably because even subtitles cause some strain, and on most players I've tested Closed Captions can really slow down playback. Since both Subtitles and Closed Captions perform a similar function, it is likely they decided to do without the one (Closed Caption) that would most strain the player and possibly degrade playback excessively.

CoolDVD is not the playback equal of the powerhouse Hardware Accelerated players such as Cinemaster and WinDVD. FF and RW actually were far better than I expected without Hardware Acceleration, but the minor hesitations noted above were seen in nearly every title. They tell me this player was at times straining. The strain was only badly apparent at 8x FF, but always there even at normal speed (Especially with subtitles on). Also the dark pulsing effect sticks in mind a bit. Single colored areas of the screen pulsing when similarly colored areas were moving seems to say the players engine was not at the level of the Big-3. However, I must say CoolDVD was a VERY decent playback experience in most circumstances. The images were sharp, the colors decent, and the playback was not bad at all. Though CoolDVD lacks the Hardware Acceleration support of its competition, it did a very decent job, and in many respects was better than several of its competitors in certain aspects of playback.

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