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Review: Wiredinc's Wired4DVD Decoder Card
By Mike
Review date: 2/2/2000

Wired4DVD Card Features and Ports
Intro | Installation | Player Controls | Card Features

Wired4DVD Ports

(Photo from manual, used with permission)


Wired4DVD Card Features and Specifications:

The following iinfo/specs for the Wired4DVD card are taken from their product page and/or manual

  • Base card is Sigma ReelMagic plus (the top rated card on the PC)

  • MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 support

  • Dolby Digital Surround Sound (AC-3) output
    (Also supports Dolby Pro-Logic Surround Sound)

  • Line level audio output (for standard audio amplifiers/speakers)

  • Audio Freq. Range: 20Hz to 20KHz (+- 0.5dB). 6-channel support via AC-3 output.

  • SVideo (composite video adapter included) and VGA outputs.

  • Up to 15Mb/sec decompression rate

  • Up to 1600 x 1200 resolution DVD movie playback without burdening the computer's processor. (Note: the readme file for the v1.2.3 software lists a max. tested resolution of 1920x1080, although they state "other resolutions may work but have not been tested".
    Due to the limits of my Apple LCD 15"  Display used with this review, I could not test resolutions higher than 1024x768. I did not notice any image quality reduction at this resolution from the pass-through cable, but have not tested higher resolutions. A reader using a CRT monitor noted a loss of sharpness on text at 1152x870 however.)

  • Supports full frame, letterbox, pan & scan or widescreen modes.

  • Incorporates a feature called frame rate conversion, so NTSC DVD titles can be played on a PAL television, and vice versa.

  • Selectable audio format (stereo, AC-3 or PCM)
    (decoder required for AC-3 audio support)

  • Movies can be played on the computer's monitor or output to TV

  • The DVD window allows you to set a default language and the preferred display mode (wide, pan & scan or letterbox). Wired4DVD's Rating Control feature lets you play an edited version of the movie with violent or objectionable scenes removed (with titles that support this feature).

  • Includes Mac/VGA and VGA/Mac adapters for owners of non-VGA connectored Monitors and Graphics cards.

  • SVideo to Composite cable/adapter and stereo mini-jack cable also supplied.


Movie Playback Performance/Image Quality:

As noted previously in this review, in tests on my G4/450 with virtual memory off, I saw no audio lip-sync issues and the image quality was very impressive. I used the composite video output to to connect to a 45" projection TV and quality as good as my dedicated Toshiba DVD player.

As I noted previously, the hardware decoding really shows an advantage compared to the software DVD player I'd used on the same G4's system.  Be forewarned, once you experience this you won't want to go back to the software player again and will find it even more frustrating.

Overall Summary:

The Wired4DVD card installed easily, played all DVDs I tried, allowed me to use a non-ATI graphics card and had good image quality for movies. However if you run your monitor at higher than 1024x768 resolutions, you may see some loss of sharpness from the pass-through design (the higher the resolution the worse this is likely to be). (Update - this review was posted before OS X was released, but as noted on the intro page update later, there is not OS X drivers/support for this card.)

For more information, visit the Wired web site. (As of 2002 however, the product has now been discontinued.) Wired also offers other DVD and Firwire/Video products for the Macintosh.


Index of Wired4DVD Review

Intro | Installation | Player Controls | Card Features

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