“ 16 Speed DVD Drive „
* Prices may differ from that shown
So, you want a DVD player for your computer… but which one. There are many players out there from many manufacturers, all offering many features. Before we look at the merits of this particular model, it’s worth pointing out that to watch DVD movies, your player only needs to be a maximum of 1x speed. So why do we need to go faster? Probably for the same reason that the current batch of CD players now run at 50 odd times faster than they did just a few short years ago – speed. Yes, it’s true, we all like speed. It’s rare that you see any product needing more than a 4x CD, but that didn’t stop manufacturers tweaking bits and pieces to, firstly 8 speed, and then with various jumps to 52 – and it didn’t stop people from upgrading. My own feeling is that DVD will be the same, but just in case I went for a 16 speed. Well, you do want the fastest don’t you. So what are the key points here. The manufacturer. Artec have been producing CDs, scanners & latterly DVD’s from their Californian base since 1983, and are a subsidiary of the Taiwanese corporation Ultima Electronics. They provide a good level of support, through email contact and driver downloads from a very clear web site, as well as good descriptions of all their equipment. Technical Specification For those of you that need it, or wish to use it as a comparison. Model: DVD-ROM 16X Data Transfer Rate: DVD-ROM (Single Layer): 22160 KB/s max. CD-ROM (Mode 1, 40x max.): 6000 KB/s max. CD-ROM (Mode 2, 40x max.): 6840 KB/s max. Disc Formats: DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, CD-DA, CD-ROM (mode 1), CD-ROM XA (mode 2 form 1 and form 2), CD-ROM XA, Mixed-Mode CD, CD-I, CD-I Ready, CD-Bridge, Photo CD (single and multi session), CD Extra (CD-Plus), CD Text, Video CD, I-Trax CD, UDF, Bootable CD Support Disc Size Diameter 80 mm and 120 mm discs MPC Level Exceed MPC level 3 Mode True CAV Mode Access Time DVD-ROM: average Less than 115 ms CD-ROM: average Less than 100 Ms Buffer Memory 512KB MTBF 25,000 POH (25% duty cycle) IDE Host Interface PIO 1-4, Ultra DMA 0-2, Multi-word DMA mode 0-2 Mounting Method Horizontal OS Compatibility MS-DOS, Windows NT / 2000 / 98 / 95 / 3.1, OS2, Novell, SCO UNIX, Linux Safety Approval FDA, UL, CSA, TUV EMI Requirement FCC-B, CE Other Master / Slave Jumper Selection Energy saving spin-down mode Power Requirement 5V DC (+ - 5%) 1.5A max. 12V DC (+ - 5%) 1.2A max. Dimension 149mm(W) x 43mm(H) x 196mm(D) Weight 900g (Body only) Bundled Software WinDVD The model. The DHI-G40 is a 16-speed DVD player, yes, a 16 speed. From my little survey prior to buying a DVD I believe that this is the fastest out there. It is also a 40 speed CD player, and supports/plays CD, VCD, CDR, CDRW media. In other words, more or less anything out there. Arctec also claim that it is based on Sony technology. Disc input is via a standard tray, as with the majority of CD players, and not “slot” which seems to be the DVD norm. The drive is a standard IDE/Atapi device and is fully Plug & Play compatible through Win 98, 2000 & ME. In English, this means that if you want to put this in place of your old CD-ROM there isn’t a problem. Size wise, it is standard for a 5.25” drive bay, fitting comfortably in 99.9% of computers. It should be noted that DVD support is not provided for Win95, which seems to be standard with all manufacturers, and is probably because even Lord Gates of Microsoft hadn’t thought of DVD 6 years ago. Installation The box is supposedly a retail pack, with full fitting instructions, and comes with WinDVD software for movie playback. The instructions are contained on a piece of paper around the size of a post-it note, but it has to be sai d, are clear. The instructions assume that you are replacing your original CD, in which case installation is a breeze. Unfortunately, I was keeping my re-writer, so needed totally different instructions, and these are not supplied. Luckily, I knew from reading magazine articles that the DVD needed to set as the Master. Having kept my instruction CD-ROM from HP, I found all the info that I needed to set the CD to slave, the audio lead from the CDRW to auxiliary & from the DVD to the main audio connector on the sound card. Given that I was adding rather than replacing, the whole episode from power down to boot up was completed in less than 15 minutes. It is also important to note that the second audio lead isn’t supplied (although it should have been), again as it assumes that you are replacing an existing installation. These are readily available from most computer outlets for around a fiver. Incidentally, before attempting installation as an additional device, check that you have a spare power cable inside the PC. Unless you already have a couple of devices and a couple of hard drives, the odds are in your favour. If not, again it’s a trip to the shops with another fiver in hand. All the leads are easy to connect and tend to only go in one way. Remember to make sure that the flat grey lead from your computer is connected with the red stripe facing to the right of the unit (as you look from inside the PC). If you’re replacing an old CD player, just look at how the leads are connected before you go pulling them all out. Upon booting the computer back up, Windows immediately recognises what you have done, installs it’s own standard driver, and that’s it – it now works. Performance This is somewhat hard to gauge as it depends very much on the individual computer configuration, and whether you are using a hardware decoder or the supplied WinDVD (which I have given a separate opinion on). My own system comprise s of an AMD 400, with only an 8MB graphics card & 192MB RAM. I have to say, that I am at the bottom of the minimum requirement table, but still achieve what I consider to be good results. As a CD player, it’s very fast, with the 40x performance making my existing 24x seem snail like. Installation of ordinary CD software through the DVD player is certainly a lot quicker. One disconcerting note, until you get used to it is the noise. This is only apparent when it first accesses a disc, and I believe it is until it reaches the optimum speed as it then becomes no noisier than anything else that I’ve come across. When playing a DVD movie, the noise has more or less disappeared before the studio logo is fully on screen, and is not apparent once the movie is underway. I don’t see this as a problem, but it’s worth a mention as the first thing that you think when you put a disc in is, “My God! What have I done wrong!” Where can I get it? Ah, the tricky bit. Don’t expect to walk into PC World and pick this up off the shelf, and I haven’t seen it advertised by the major online stores such as DABS. I found this purely by chance when searching the price guide sites for DVD’s. It seems to sell in mainly the more local store or smaller online dealer, and I have since seen Artec equipment on a few stands at the computer fairs. Whilst my local little computer shop doesn’t stock this item, he has been selling Artec CD players for a few years and has never had a problem. Overall For around £60 you’re getting a very efficient DVD player that operates at 16 speed, one of the fastest on the market. This should make it future proof for a reasonable length of time. It also doubles as a 52 speed CD-ROM, again more than fast enough. Included in the box is the WinDVD software movie player, which retails separately for between £10 & £20. If it’s your first DIY upgrade it’s very eas y. Can you justify buying it? Course you can. Think about these two points: - to replace your old CD-ROM would cost you around £25 for a start. Buying the DVD version of your favourite magazine is going to get you 4.7GB of software every month, as against the 650MB you get now.