Philips Consumer Electronics
DVD is the up and coming storage format for the future. It's identical in size and shape to a compact disc, but can hold a lot more, up to 17 gigabytes of data. DVD has been in use for a couple of years to store movies on disc, but to play these movies you would normally have to spend around £300 on a dedicated stand alone player. However there is a cheaper option. For around half the price you can put a DVD drive into your home PC.
The Philips DVD kit contains a combined 32x CD and a 6x DVD drive, although in our tests we found the drive to be slower than we had expected in both our CD and DVD tests.
Also included is REALmagic's Hollywood Plus dedicated decoder. This overcomes the common problems of dropped frames, resulting in stuttering movement onscreen, when trying to play movies on a low end PC that can't decode the digital data from the DVD fast enough. The signal can also be outputted to a television so you don't have to sit in front of your monitor. The Hollywood Plus will also output a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio signal, provided you have a compatible sound setup.
DVD-ROM titles were slow to appear at first, but that is changing. Software that was originally on multiple CD's is now appearing on one DVD. Also video sequences can be supplied as DVD quality full screen video rather than small postage stamp size video commonly found on normal CDs.
As an example of this, Philips has included two new DVD enhanced versions of Activision games. In the kit you'll find the spy thriller Spycraft and the fantasy adventure game, Zork: Grand Inquisitor. Both games now come on one disc each and feature full screen DVD quality video. Also included is a DVD video screensaver. You can configure the PC to play full screen DVD quality clips from the movie Star Trek: First Contact, when it is not being used.
The DVD drive is also available on its own without the Hollywood Plus card for £64.99. A copy of Cyberlink's PowerDVD software for watching DVD movies is also included.