Mac Musings

DVD and the Mac

- 9 December 1999 - Tip Jar

I watched my first DVD (Blade Runner: Director's Cut) on a Blue G3/300 with a 20" monitor. It worked, but I get a smoother picture with my DVD player and TV at home.

In June, as a combined Father's Day and birthday present, I got a DVD player. We picked up a couple movies (Casablanca and The Fugitive) to watch. They looked great on my TV.

I brought The Fugitive to work and ran it on the G3. It paled in comparison to my $350 DVD player and $350 27" TV. It was a bit jerky, grainy, and the quality got even worse when I tried to do anything else on the computer.

Same thing this week when I popped in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer DVD. It would come to a standstill when I used other programs.

This is on the Blue G3 with hardware decoding on the ATI video card. It wasn't using the CPU to process the video, which the current iMac DV and Power Mac G4 models do.

Field reports on the iMac and G4 regularly report the sound and video getting out of sync, a situation which apparently gets worse with every change of scene in the movie.

Frankly, I don't get it. Why watch DVDs on a $1,300 (or more) computer when you can buy a real DVD player for $250-350, connect it to your TV, and get better quality sound and pictures.

Sure, it's geeky cool to do it on you computer, but am I missing something here?

With a separate DVD player, nothing the computer does causes problems. The picture isn't grainy. The sound isn't limited by the computer's speaker (or speakers, in the case of the iMac).

I'll grant that watching movies on vacation with a PowerBook is probably the most practical application of DVD technology on a computer.

But if you're in the market for an iMac, the $300 difference between the base Blueberry model and the iMac DV can pay for a real DVD player.

What is the attraction of running DVDs on the Mac?

Further Reading

  • The DVD Page, my introduction to DVD
  • The DVD Resource Page, best DVD resource I know of. Not only an excellent site, but the webmaster is a Mac user, so he comments on DVDs that are problematic on the Mac.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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