CyberLink and NVIDIA® Deliver Tomorrow's High-Definition Video Technology Today
by Scott Steinberg
The launch of next-generation disc formats like HD-DVD and Blu-Ray (capable of storing roughly 4 to 6x more/sharper-looking content, respectively, than present-day DVDs) ushers in a new golden age for filmmakers and cinemagoers alike. But with it also come new challenges for PC-owning silver screen enthusiasts, such as picking the right supporting graphics card and video player to ensure an optimum-quality viewing experience.
Thankfully, companies such as CyberLink and NVIDIA are making the choice effortless. Armed with a NVIDIA® GeForce® 7 Series (or better) graphics card sporting 256MB of memory and best-selling software program PowerDVD, it's possible to watch high-definition movies the way one could only previously dream - at a staggering 1920x1080p resolution – the highest available yet – while still enjoying crisp, fluid motion picture playback and the kind of breathtaking color depth typically reserved for life's true magic moments.
"Thanks to enhanced GPU power, anyone can fine-tune desktop color displays in detail, just as they would on a standard TV..."
"HD-DVD alone represents bigger strides forward than the previous jump from VHS to DVD," says Louis Chen, senior product marketing manager for CyberLink. "Highlighted movies don't just appear slicker – they also look more natural and cinematic. As our dedicated crew of engineers, who test new Hollywood releases day in and day out, will gladly attest, once you take the plunge, you'll never go back."
What's more, there's no better way to do so than via PowerDVD, the proven choice for over 150 million PC users since 1998. And, of course, with an industry-leading NVIDIA graphics processing unit (GPU) – a secondary processor that helps PCs shoulder today's advanced visuals' greater computing burden – installed in your system.
Not only do these components ease the behind-the-scenes strain on your CPU, freeing as much as 30% of its muscle to address other important tasks (e.g. checking email or virus scanning), they also confer the ability to enjoy better film decoding, more in-depth picture detail and ultra-smooth, glitch-free video screenings.
AACS – Stands for advanced access content system, a form of copy protection that encrypts video so it can't be illegally accessed or duplicated.
Blu-Ray – Sony's new cutting-edge, next-generation optical disc format. Presently capable of storing 25–50GB of high-definition audiovisual content, Blu-Ray discs hold multiple times more data than comparable media formats such as DVD.
CPU – Central processing unit: The brains of your computer.
CryptoROM – Capable of decoding AACS-encrypted content, and necessary for HDCP compliance.
GPU – Graphics processor: A secondary PC processor that's devoted entirely to handling graphics-related functions.
HDCP – Short for high-bandwidth digital content protection: An authentication process built into video hardware that prevents the hacking and unauthorized transmission of encrypted high-definition content.
PureVideo HD – NVIDIA-built technology that allows for smooth, top-quality high-definition movie and video playback.
For over two years, a team has worked to optimize PowerDVD for GPU-accelerated HD-DVD and Blu-Ray playback – and continues to do so with Windows Vista's debut fast approaching. The net result: Visual workloads are more effectively shared between one's computer and graphics card, with the latter assuming heavy number-crunching duties, slashing the amount of horsepower required to run modern blockbusters.
No longer is purchasing an expensive setup necessary for admiring tense dramas or jaw-dropping sci-fi epics. (A mid-range desktop equipped with a GeForce 7 Series or better card will do just fine.) Now, both collectors and casual enthusiasts can cost-effectively access features previously unavailable to the general public.
"Thanks to enhanced GPU power, anyone can fine-tune desktop color displays in detail, just as they would on a standard TV," explains Chen. "Picture-in-picture viewing options also introduce support for skimming bonus features while watching films. You can literally observe an incredible special effect happening on-screen in real-time, while in another window, the creators walk audiences step-by-step through how they pulled it off."
Another important point to note: In many cases, without a HDCP/CryptoROM content- and copy protection-ready NVIDIA graphics card and PureVideo™ HD technology-compatible player such as PowerDVD, it's impossible to enjoy films in true high-definition. So before investing in an optical drive, make sure you've acquired these crucial components. Plus, while we're at it, download the latest NVIDIA ForceWare® drivers and purchase a HDCP-compliant monitor (able to decrypt signals scrambled to protect users from content hacking or piracy, as above).
If initial setup seems tricky, don't be fooled... CyberLink and NVIDIA's patented approaches render the process painless. Besides, more groundbreaking titles fresh out of theaters are making the leap to new platforms with each passing day. One needn't worry about breaking the bank either. Hybrid HD-DVDs, which warehouse standard DVD and HD-DVD film transfers on a single disc and run on either type of player, prevent the need to re-buy treasured classics when building a home movie collection.
Entertainment purposes aren't the only reason to invest, says Chen. Using PowerDVD, corporations and retailers can produce dazzling sales spots or interactive training programs designed to test end-users concept retention rates. Schools may further utilize the program as a handy means to facilitate education. Movie studios additionally have the option of quizzing audiences' knowledge of film facts after living room viewings, then awarding prizes to those who answer correctly. And a world-first – foreign viewers can access dual-language subtitles when watching motion pictures, allowing say, Mandarin or Spanish speakers to simultaneously read in their native tongue and English, thereby improving their vocabulary and communications skills.
"Few high-end graphics cards offer the power and security needed to achieve these benchmarks," Chen confesses. "From very early on, we engaged in collaboration with NVIDIA to ensure consumers the highest-quality video playback. Many HD-DVD and Blu-Ray drives employ the firm's technology, and it's easy to see why. Looking at the situation from nearly every standpoint ranging from performance to reliability and robustness, the company clearly offers the best-in-class solution."