|By Rob Boirun
Lead Reviewer for BurnWorld
Watching movies on your Windows-based PC is nothing new. DVD drives on a PC are as standard as a processor, thus people are wanting to take advantage of this technology. However Windows 7, Vista, and XP do not support DVD movie playback natively, a Decoder is necessary for proper playback of the proprietary MPEG-2 video. Most commonly used within Windows Media Player for Windows XP and Vista. By default WMP does not contain a Decoder, thus the plugin must be used to view the video on a DVD disc.
Many people think that Decoders are Decrypters, in a way they are but not in the way you want it to work. A decoder will decrypt a CSS protected DVD but send the signal to the media player for playback. If you are looking for decrypting functionality look for DVD decrypting here.
The Process of Decoding a DVD Movie
There are 3 main steps that a decoder will perform that traditional software won’t.
- First: All major movies distributed by the movie studios are usually encoded with CSS or some other type of disc copy protection. This is added to deter casual copying of movies to share with friends and family.
- Second: Because DVD movies are encoded in the MPEG-2 format (which is a proprietary format owned by the MPEG Group) a decoder must be used to ‘unlock’ the encoding. Essentially this group has a lock on all access to DVD video and you must pay your due to view it.
- Third: Acts as a doorway between the video on a DVD and a playback software. Without it you can not view the content.
Now lets take a look at what DVD decoders are currently available:
NVIDIA PureVideo Decoder
Roxio CinePlayer for Windows 7 is one of the highest quality and best performing DVD and video file playback apps currently available. Now supporting 3D movie and video playback. If your looking for professional-looking video playback with with HD audio and a nice interface then CinePlayer should be your choice.
Take a look at my quick video that explains what a decoder is and isn’t. It may point you in the right direction on what you should be looking for.
Main Reasons Why A Plugin is Better Than Standalone Software
DVD discs are still a popular option for Movie delivery. For that reason people will still want to watch DVD’s on their laptops or PC’s. If the DVD is a major movie, meaning ‘from Hollywood’, then 99% of the time the disc has been encoded and sometimes compressed. In order for this type of DVD to be played on a computer’s DVD drive, the data on the DVD must first be decoded; this is done with help of computer software. DVD Movies can encode data in a few different ways. Two audio formats that require a decoder are Dolby Digital which uses their own Dolby Digital decoder and also a decoder is needed for DTS (Digital Theater System). The majority of video is decoded using a MPEG2 decoder.
Reasons There Are Not Any Free Options
Since the video format used on today’s DVD is MPEG 2, there are licensing fees that need to be paid since that format is licensed and has patents on it. However many decoders are around $15 which we have listed above. All work well and we recommend you using one with your player. However there is a free DVD player called VLC player which has its own decoder. The only drawback is that you must use the player interface that it provides which is lacking options compared to more advanced DVD playing apps.
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