ATI DVD 3.0
Welcome to our preview of the upcoming ATI DVD Player 3.0. After looking at the image above you may be wondering what the heck has changed since version 1.2. Well despite version 2 vanishing from the face of the earth very little seems to have changed. This new version will ship with ATI's new Rage Fury card, the card features hardware DVD decoding, but this player works with any AGP graphics card, not just the Rage Fury. So hopefully ATI will release this as an upgrade for their large number of Rage Pro users.
ATI DVD Player 3.0 yet again uses a newer version of the Software Cinemaster decoder player (The Driver is dated November 1998). This new version seems to have a number of improvements over the last one ATI used, we'll discuss those improvements very soon.
First lets get the part that bugged us most about ATI DVD Player 1.2 out of the way. It was probably the worst DVD player we have used in terms of crashes. Version 3.0 has undergone major fixes as we could tell straight away. we have yet to have a single crash whilst using it. Other interface changes over the previous version are basic, but thankfully are noteworthy....The current file position slider at on the player finally works, in 1.2 it used to crash whenever you moved it.
Right clicking on the movie screen while watching a movie brings up far more options than the last release. These include Menus, subtitles, audio and angle options (All of which XingDVD now has). ATI DVD 3.0 also finally allows you to skip the FBI warnings at the start of movies (Assuming the DVD allows it).
Now on to the quality of sound and picture. This new release adds Dolby Digital 5.1 support (we believe 1.2 only had Dolby Surround? Someone correct us if we're wrong). Stereo effects are greatly improved over the last version and the quality of speech is much clearer, even on two speakers. As for the movie picture quality, very little has changed, although some of the blurriness you get with most software DVD players has been ousted out. ATI have also put a brightness control into the players options. Switching between Pan & Scan, Widescreen and Letterbox views has also improved, although this version doesn't always keep to the one you have chosen.
Now onto the problems that we encountered with this new release. The low volume problem that plagued 1.2 is still apparent. The Control Panel option for the Cinemaster decoder still doesn't work (Despite the help file saying it does). Now the main problem, despite this release requiring both DirectX 6 and DirectMedia 6 - it doesn't work with with the DirectMedia DVD Video that Encarta 99 uses, we assume this is a problem that will be fixed before it is released with the Rage Fury, but we tried a number of things to try and fix it, but we had no luck. A few more tweaking options also wouldn't go amiss.
Well even with this preview version it is clear to us that ATI DVD Player 3.0 helps move ATI further ahead of XingDVD 2.0.3. The problems that we have found could well be fixed before it ships with the Rage Fury, but there is no guarantee. And once the Rage Fury with it's hardware decoding comes out, expect even more from this new player.
The Good and The Bad
DVD Player Good:
Minimum PC requirements for ATI DVD Player: