HP External HDDVD drive

Discussion in 'Movie Lounge' started by RickG, Jun 18, 2007.

  1. RickG

    RickG New Member

    Well, I had thought I was going to wait this whole format war thing out, but Fry's offered a deal I couldn't refuse. They had the HP external HDDVD drive on sale for $180 - $50rebate = $130 (~$145 after taxes) and it included the HD version of PowerDVD (~$75 value).

    I figured at that price I could afford to play with HDDVD even if it ends up losing the war.

    The downside is that I don't currently have a disk top try on it, but I should have one on Wednesday from Netflix to try it out with. If that works out, I am going to buy a copy of Serenity and possibly the HD version of DVE.

    I'll post up the results when I get the disk.
  2. CJ

    CJ Bronze Member Admin War Zone Member

    Top Poster Of Month

    Are you watching these on your PC monitor then or is this an HTPC connected to a larger display?
  3. cjd

    cjd New Member

    You already have an HDMI capable video card and enough computer horsepower behind it I hope?

    It's a little bit of a headache still, unfortunately.

    Holler if you get stuck.

  4. Shane

    Shane Active Member

    If you buy Serenity, try to find the UK version. It's superior to the US release as they have further improved the encode.
  5. RickG

    RickG New Member

    With the hardware assist on the video card, I should be able to pull it off. I am not cutting the UPC code off for the rebate until I confirm that, otherwise it goes back to Fry's and by the time the Blu Ray drives get cheap enough, my computer will be faster :)

    Fry's easy return policies is one of the reasons I went ahead and bought it.

    Just for reference, I am running XP with an Athlon64 3000+ and a Nvidia 7600GT.

    For a display, I will have to run my current monitor (20" 16:9) off of VGA. But I also have an older Sanyo Z2.

    I'll give an update on Thurs.
  6. cjd

    cjd New Member

    Unless you have one of the JUST released not-quite-top-end (is that 2500 or 2600? I don't recall the numbers off-hand) ATI's (and, I should say, far as I know untested) you'll only get ONE kind of assist from video at best. UVD I think it is, on the nVidia 8500 and 8600. Any other card and no beans - your'e looking at at least a 6600 Intel or a 6000+ AMD.

    Plus proper HDCP on the video card.

    Based on your system specs, it's not going to do any hardware assist on the video.

    If that's an X2 3000+ in an AM2 socket, you could upgrade to a 6000+ for a couple hundred and be set. ;)

  7. RickG

    RickG New Member

    Hurm... I was under the definite impression that the 7-series does *some* assist, but that there is a block of functions that the 8500/8600 does that the 7-series does not, therefore CPU usage is higher. I'll see if I can run that reference down, I think it was a foreign site that has been posting som eorecent comparisons on assist and HD video.....

  8. cjd

    cjd New Member

    Ok, compared to older cards, yes. But not enough to allow the 3000+ to be adequate I think. The 7600 video card will peg an Intel 6800 on the most intensive BR encodes. The fact that the bigger video cards help shows that there IS clearly video card assist, but I was thinking of a different kind when I made my comment before.

    But the new cards *really* offload processing. But only time will tell if the ATI's really offload every encode, or if they're limited to only some (as I mentioned, the 8500/8600 nVidia only do one).

    HD-DVD is more limited in its maximum requirements but I think you may still be a bit shy. X2 4800+ may be the lower limit with the 7600. I think. AVS has a nice thread outlining recommendations. And it's actually pretty concisely organized as it's a sticky and is kept updated. Just a loooong post. But only the first one is needed.

    Hope I'm remembering all this wrong. :)

  9. AndrewM

    AndrewM New Member

    I have an AMD 64 3200+, 2GB of memory and an Nvidia 7xxx(something) card. If I use the PureVideo Nvidia stuff I can watch 20Mbps MPEG2 with the CPU's running about 60% usage, about the same for 8Mbps WMV-HD. Anything more than that I think I'd start having some problems with dropouts and the like. Without the purevideo (hardware assist) both peg the CPU out at 100% and I choppy video/dropouts.

    IIRC the 7xxx cards don't support VC1 or Mpeg4 when it comes to hardware acceleration.
  10. RickG

    RickG New Member

    The same site I mentioned above apparently got ahold of an HD2600 and tested it on both VC1 and h.264 and got amazingly low CPU usage numbers. We'll see how badly I do on Wednesday. Then I may have to decide on one of the new ATI cards, or taking the drive back.

    Nvidia claims the pcie versions of the 7-series to do both h.264 and VC1 acceleration. If you look at their site, they break the decoding process into three pieces, of which the 7-series can handle 2 in HW mode, while the 85/86 can do all three.
  11. cjd

    cjd New Member

    Too may layers, this conversation gets confused way too easily. :) I'll try to dig up more info specifically before I post any more. But memory says no h.264 on the 7 series, and ONLY h.264 on the 8500/8600 - we'll see. :)

  12. RickG

    RickG New Member

    OK, update time. This might actually be interesting for some people.

    First, ther pertinent parts of my computer:
    AMD A643000+ (Clawhammer core, so running at 2GHz) s754
    NVidia (XFX) 7600GT XXX (590/1600) 165.01 drivers.
    1GB 400MHz DDR

    I got "Superman Returns" from Netflix to test. The quick summary is that it stutters too much to be watchable. There are scenes where it is perfectly smooth, but it stutters too often.

    Slightly more involved:
    The video card is doing some accelerating, but apparently not enough.
    I cranked my CPU up to 2.4GHz and the movie plays almost flawlessly. It's not good enough that I would want to run my CPU overclocked like this to achieve reasonable ply (= not a good long-term solution)

    Here is probably the most interesting thing. Because of something I read on AVS a while back, I tried an experiment. I ripped the movie to the hard drive and played it from there. In doing that, I was able to play the movie through my DVI connection to my non-HDCP flat panel monitor. It played perfectly and was averaging somewhere around 85% on the CPU. I am convinced that this must be how the "testers" on the "Hardspell" site got their numbers, because my CPU usage fits up with theirs reasonably well when playing in this manner. This also means that all of the copy protection crap obviously takes up alot of processing headroom.

    However, this too is an unacceptable long-term solution.

    So, I now have my three choices: 1)return the drive, 2) upgrade video card (probably next month to one of the new ATIs) or 3) Upgrade CPU (which is extremely limited since I am running socket 754)

    I am currently leaning towards (1) given recent developments in the format wars, but it's a shame, as the picture *was* really nice.

    I am open to and inviting opinions. I will probably take the drive back this weekend if that is how I decide to go.

    TIA and I hope this might be useful to someone else.
  13. Shane

    Shane Active Member

    I wonder if the movie would play flawlessly on my AMD 3500+ 90nm ?
  14. cjd

    cjd New Member

    Shane: Not really. At least, not from what I've read. On "light" movies, yes. Toss in King Kong and probably not even close.

    Rick, you're in exactly the same boat as I am: I have a socket754 with AGP as my HTPC currently.

    The new ATI cards would be absolutely perfect, assuming they come out AGP and there aren't problems with HDCP over the AGP bus.

    There ARE no decent processor upgrades for you that are worth the cost really.

    Based on the current snapshot of the future market, the answer lies in the ATI cards. You may still need to switch to PCI-e BUT you won't have to go spend a fortune any more, since the ATI cards are seeming to really do what they're designed to do.

  15. RickG

    RickG New Member

    Ah, I should have mentioned that. I *do* have a PCIe bus. My 7600GT is PCIe, so no problems there.

    The real thing I keep going over in my mind is that if I keep the drive, it's $140. Good deal for an HDDVD player (essentially). If I have to buy a video card, then it's another ~$150 (I'd have to get a 2600 as I do some occasional gaming). Now we're up to ~$300... not such a great deal anymore. The current setup is fine for what I do now and probably would otherwise be for another year or so. ANd then there's the recent turn of events in the format wars.... So I am in a quandry as to what to do. :(
  16. cjd

    cjd New Member

    If you're not sure, it's not time. At least, that's always my philosophy when it comes to things like computer parts.

  17. Alfer

    Alfer New Member

    I vote to wait it out....
  18. RickG

    RickG New Member


    I'm shocked.. shocked! :D
  19. Alfer

    Alfer New Member

    Hey just tellin da troof!

    Why go through all the hassles you're proposing....

  20. RickG

    RickG New Member

    I know, but it's so much fun to play with a new toy..... :(

    At this point, after doing some more research, it is down to returning the drive or waiting for the new ATI cards. It appears that the "vastly improved" decoding on the nvidia 85/86 series only applies to h.264. It doesn't appear that they decode VC-1 any better than the 7-series.

    So if I decide to go the new video card route, not only will I have to shell out ~$150, but I'll have to wait a month to even consider it. Gaaaaaah! I'm going to play with a couple of more possible "adjustments" this evening, but it's looking like a return. Maybe things will be clearer (and cheaper) by Christmas.

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