OK, SO...I retested both processors with the most stable ATI drivers,
and find that the Celeron kinda struggles when HW Accel is left off.
The FF and RW get touchy, and movies occasionally stutter, but not too
bad usually. MATRIX and GLADIATOR both played FINE on both, with only
minor glitching on the Celeron, and this was with NO HW ACCEL. The
quality of DVD encoding made a difference. X-MEN played well with HW
ACCEL on or off, but PATRIOT and BRAVEHEART were painful. The P3 tests
were much more forgiving. Even without HW Accel, it sailed through
smoothly on most titles even when using FF/RW or watching TOUGH scenes
that glitch most players.
I did catch a weird situation, PowerDVD seems to be having issues
with it's de-interlace code not catching up on fast scene changes,
the reason behind this is unknown. Here is a cropped screen capture
This is a screen capture done while paused. When playing this scene from
THE PATRIOT, the moment where you saw this distortion lasted maybe
1/10th of a second, it was a blur! But I saw it at regular speed and
decided to slow down for a look. Manually changing the player to BOB
mode deinterlacing removed this glitch, but bothered other scenes that
want to be drawn in WEAVE mode. WinDVD did not struggle with this. And
this was a hard glitch to find (its THAT small). With HW Accel OFF, most
other PATRIOT problems vanished, And PowerDVD even passed the
T2-ULTIMATE ending scene that WinDVD never has smoothly played for me!
PowerDVD with ATI HW Accel off is mostly glitch free, sharp images,
nice colors, and the FF/RW speeds worked exceptionally well! Older
PowerDVD players CRAWLED when using FF/RW, but NO MORE! The updated
engine now sails through use of FF and RW as easily as Cinemaster or
WinDVD. Good step up!
The sharper images are a step up. Keep in mind though, sharper equals
more eye-focusing and strains your eyes more than a slightly
softened/blurred image does. The improved engine with now exceptional
FF/RW operation is HUGE! Overall image quality is better. WinDVD still
wins the Video prize for users with a powerful enough machine to USE
WinDVD, and Cinemaster still beats PowerDVD on ATI or ELSA video cards
(Especially NOW while Cyberlink awaits ATI finishing the new codes).
But overall, with Non-ATI cards, or when HW accel is off on slightly
faster ATI equipped machines, it's a very pleasant playback experience.
When you couple the updated engine and sharper image with the great
interface that allows you to do it all so easily, the video playback is
VERY GOOD. The battle rages on!