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SOUNDBLASTER PC-DVD ENCORE 5X with Dxr2 MODEL MK5002
4 Reviews
rating  2.75 of 5
MSRP 
Description: A COMPUTER DVD-ROM WITH PCM DIGITAL/S-VHS & RCA VIDEO OUT


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Reviews 1 - 4 (4 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Ryan P a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: June 20, 2001

Bottom Line:   
This was a nice introduction to DVD for me when I first bought this kit 3 years ago. It was cheap, and an easy add-on to my PC, so it was really no hassle to give the format a try this way. However, 3 years is a long time to live with this type of system, and when you take into consideration that Creative hasn't updated the drivers in 2 years, this system gets old REAL quick.

There are perks with the Dxr2 card that still haven't been incorperated into even the latest generation standalone DVD players. I like the instantaneous layer changes (not even the Dxr3/Hollywood+ supports this) and quick chapter transitions. I also like being able to disable Macrovision and Region Coding on a whim.

Unfortunately, that's where the perks stop with this system. As you can see in the Weaknesses section above, there are lots of buggy problems with this system that COULD'VE been fixed by now, if only Creative had continued to upgrade their drivers.

If you're expecting to use this to watch high quality progressive scan movies on your PC monitor, you should look elsewhere. To explain in more detail: DVD was made for TVs, NOT for PCs. Pixel size, scanning format, and refresh rates are totally different between PCs and TVs, which makes them pretty much completely incompatible. How then, you ask, do they get a DVD picture to look "good" on a PC monitor? The answer is artificial overlays. These overlays "approximate" the pixel size, scan format, and refresh rate of a TV screen, and displays the approximation on your PC monitor. Back when the Dxr2 was in its heyday, artificial overlays were in their infancy, and the resulting picture looked very pixelated, jagged, and full of shimmering. When the Dxr3 board came out, things looked better, but still weren't perfect, particularly when you wanted to look at fine details. Software players have taken the overlay even further, making it nearly perfect, although sometimes it looks like the movie isn't playing with all 16 million colors. Bottom line: if you want to watch progressive scan movies on your monitor, go for a software player and upgrade your PC to 500Mhz minimum.

Another outdated aspect with the card is its anamorphic downconversion. Back in the early days, when players had to downconvert 16:9 movies into 4:3 pictures, most simply removed every fourth line. This creates a jagged effect that you can see on hard edges like telephone wires, railroad tracks, and yes, even people's forehead lines. Fortunately, many new players now incorperate an algorithm which takes the 4th line and mixes it in with the lines above and below it. Sadly, there is no fix for the Dxr2 card to do this.

Also, there is no way to save settings in PC-DVD Encore. Thus, every time I activate the player, I have to go in and manually set the playback output to 4:3, as it always seems to default to "PC Monitor" (which, for all intents and purposes, is 16:9 mode). Of course, we 4:3 people lose our remote cursor on the screen, so it's nearly impossible to navigate a menu because you can't see where you're going.

If you're watching movies from TV, it helps to have some remote control system hooked up so you don't have to walk up to your PC and use the keyboard just to pause the film to answer a phone call. Fortunately, remote systems are cheap and plentiful nowadays.

This is a pretty old system, and I doubt many people look in here now since software players have long taken over the PC-DVD market. I guess if you've found this at a garage sale or if a friend of yours wants to get rid of his, then this review may be helpful.

Thanks for reading,
Ryan

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $200.00

Purchased At:   Local PC dealer



Overall Rating:1
Value Rating:2
Submitted by Aaron a Casual Listener

Date Reviewed: June 9, 2001

Bottom Line:   
I've had a Dxr2 for a while now, and it would be about the last thing I would recommend to anyone. The picture quality on my monitor is generally pretty bad, and Creative support was never able to help me improve it. Sound quality is another issue, too. I had a Monster MX300 sound card for a while, and the only way to hear anything was to turn my speakers WAY up. Once I got a Soundblaster, though, there weren't any problems this way. Admittedly, it's the best DVD player I've used on a computer, but if you have a PC and want to watch DVDs on it, don't bother with a hardware card. If your CPU is fast enough, just use a software player. It'll save you money, and chances are it won't be long before you buy a standalone DVD player, anyway.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Casual Listener

Product model year:   1999



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jean-Marie Foret a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: January 4, 2001

Bottom Line:   
I've been using this DVD player for more than 2 years now and did not experience any major problems with it.

I'm using it (and my children) for both DVD and CD's and it is very stable. Once or twice it had some difficulties with a DVD (stopping and restarting after a few seconds) but apart from that nothing and I've been watching more than 150 DVD's on it and it played CD for hours and hours

As far as video and sound decoding I find the quality more than acceptable. The fact that it has no DTS decoding will probably motivate my next buy but otherwise there is no better value for that amount of money. BTW check www.homecinemachoice.com on this one, it got a 5 stars!

Used in combination with:
ONKYO TX-DS777
B&W 602 and B&W LCR6 S2
Liesegang DDV 1111 - DLP video projector

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $250.00



Overall Rating:4
Submitted by ROBERT G a an Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: July 18, 1999

Bottom Line:   
For those of you wanting a very reliable DVD player that will not take up any space in your house, just your computer, this is a very good product. This DVD player will out perform almost all other DVD players because it can draw upon your computer's processor and memory when needed. This product is very flexible as you can surf the net and it will broadcast a signal to your AVR simultaneously.
The Dxr2 card is a PCI card that has both memory and processor for the playing DVDs. The way this hooks into your system is simply remove your normal DVD rom's (unless you have a recorder you need to buy some adapter cables) power cable/data cable and hook it up to the DVD rom running the audio cable of the DVD rom to the Dxr2 card (easy to do instruction book). From outside, you hook a VGA loop-back cable (provided by the kit) from your video card to the Dxr2 card and then using your previous cable the Dxr2 card to your monitor. The Dxr2 also has additional PCM composite out(48khz out, RCA type of connector) and plug that allows you to use the provided S-VHS & composite video out for your TV (though with some projectors instead of using your monitor you can hook this up with the VGA out).

How does this perform? Flawless, until my computer crashed one day (not related to the DVD rom). No layer switching, pixelation, freezing, audio dropout, or lip-syncing problems. Though the loading is slow, there has never been a problem with this thing that others claim such as feed problem, eject problem, or sensing no discs (which would be a software configuration problem). As a CD transport you are limited by your interconnects, DAC in your AVR, speaker wires, and your speakers. As a CD player your audio is limited by your soundcard and speakers setup. This DVD rom plays all CD formats except for HDCD OR DTS (first not stated on the box and the second when I tried the EAGLES "Hell Freezes Over" which is still very wonderful in PCM). Note this does not decode the DD signal to 5.1 but pushes it to the DD decoder of your AVR or processor.

Note of caution: I Emailed the Creative Labs/SoundBlaster website asking about any software updates (besides the one on their site) or if there is another card so this can also be used for future formats of HDCD, DTS, DD music (supposed to be slightly different and not compatible with current DD), and SACD about a month ago and still no reply (I used my Yahoo address as I knew I would change servers). They have a 1-800 customer service number but the technical support is a charge number. Also there is version out currently that is newer but I don't know if it can do the aforementioned things that mine can do. This thing gets a 4 speaker rating since it can't do DTS and I haven't been told if there is an upgrade path from here or not. The associated equipment:

Mainroom: Strange U-shape with listening area 35' x 15'

Sharp 27" TV with S-VHS (not used, the composite interconnect does so well that there is no noticable difference.
Mains/Rears: Optimus Pro-X77
Center: Optimus Pro-CS5
Subs: 2 Passive Optimus SW-14P (hooked right main/right sub, left main/left sub), and an Audio Source SW8X (8" woofer with 50 watt amp)
Megacables, combination RCA and RS Gold interconnects (generic monsters)
Pioneer VSX-457D AVR with Technics SH-AC500D DD/DTS Processor

Bedroom: 10' x 15'

TV: Toshiba 13" and Packard Bell Computer Monitor 13"
Fronts: Pro-LX8s
Center Pro-LX5
Rears: Pro-X77
Subs: AudioSource SW8X and Advent (10" with 150w amp)
Megacables, RCA combo with RS interconnect gold
Pioneer VSX-D606S AVR with built-in DD

additional equipment: 2 Admiral 4-head VHS Hi-Fi VCR (same as Sharp, very durable and clean playing), Symphonic 4-head VHS Hi-Fi VCR (cheap, dependable for me, not as good audio), extra Optimus Pro-CS5/LX5pair of LX8s (rotating my system periodically, constant tweeker) speakers. Sega Saturn as CD player (took back a Marantz, Sony, Pioneer, JVC, and few others as this thing seems to be a very good player).




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Duration Product Used:   an Audio Enthusiast




Reviews 1 - 4 (4 Reviews Total)

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