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Setup and Installation

The install follows the standard routine that IDE optical drives and hard drives use so I won't go into boring detail there. The unit comes packed with an audio patch cable, a DOS driver disk (which isn't needed for Windows 9x install), and the Cyberlink PowerDVD software. Power DVD is an excellent software DVD decoder program. It features a simple to use interface that resembles a home DVD player. Areas of the screen can be right-clicked to bring up menus if you don't want to use the simulated DVD player interface. Cyberlink's PowerDVD is very easy to learn to work with, and you'll be up and watching movies with it in no time.

The screencapture above didn't capture the movie that was playing, but you can see the DVD player style interface at the bottom of the screen. When the program is expanded to fill the screen clicking in the black area below the movie picture (movies are played wide-screen letterbox) will bring up the player interface. The interface isn't visible all the time, but if you don't like the idea of having to use it then you can right click away on the movie screen to make your adjustments. You can change the screen ratio the movie is played at on the fly and even increase or decrease the screen size in small increments. One especially good feature of this software is its support for Dolby Surround Sound.

That brings up another issue entirely: your movie watching experience will be closely tied to the quality of sound your computer produces. I highly recommend a good to high end set of speakers with a subwoofer and rear speakers. Even when playing with only two speakers I thought the sound was better with Dolby Surround enabled - that's probably due to the fact that Creative uses a utility to optimize the sound that a Live! card produces depending on the speaker arrangement. The minimum system requirements for Power DVD are a Pentium II 350, 32 MB Ram, Win 9x/NT/2000, and a DVD-ROM player. While not specifically mentioned, the software was completely compatible with Windows Millenium.

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