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Play movies on your computer

Click & Hack

Disappointed you didn’t get a new DVD player for Christmas? Use your computer instead. You may not think of PCs as a good way to watch movies, but with screens getting bigger, they are. And we don’t mean just playing a movie on your DVD drive. You can also stream movies from a Web site, or download them from sites such as http://www.movielink.com. But to view streaming or downloaded movies on your computer, you need special software. Here are a few of the most popular players available from http://www.download.com or Microsoft:DivX Player(with DivX Codec) 5.1.1The official DivX video software bundle, this program has everything you need to watch and create videos in the popular DivX video format. The DivX 5.1 generation includes many advanced features, such as enhanced video quality and feedback mode.Windows Media Player9 SeriesThis player has fast and flexible playback, with the best audio and video quality for Windows and the Web. Includes special new features optimized for Windows.QuickTime 6.5Apple’s digital media software creates, plays and streams audio and video content over the Internet. QuickTime supports the MPEG-4 file format and video codec (compressor/decompressor).While these applications are good, the movies are still not DVD quality, so they won’t be perfect. Because of the severe compression used, video and audio quality is compromised. To get the most out of your viewing experience, follow these tips. They’ll help you get closer to the “movie experience.”VideoThe quality of your movie depends solely on how well it was encoded. Some movies will look just fine full screen, and others will not. If the colors seem faded, turn down the brightness. It’ll darken the black and make the picture look better. Once you turn the brightness down, you’ll find that the picture on your monitor looks much better with the lights turned off. If you have a TV-out feature on your video card, and if you can send it out to your television, do it. The resolution on a television screen is much lower than on a computer monitor. The picture will undoubtedly look better. Finally, the various codecs may have unique options you can tweak on playback. The defaults are usually best, but you might find some other options that work.AudioThe audio used in these codecs will be stereo, nothing more, and it’s usually of good quality. If you have bad audio, routing audio through your home stereo will only exaggerate the bad quality. All you need is a set of standard PC speakers with a subwoofer.PerformanceIf you have an older machine, close all other programs before watching a movie. Movies take a large amount of processing power to decode. Consequently, an older machine may not be able to run the movie in full-screen modeHere are the recommended requirements for good performance (all available from The Computer Store):n 500-MHz or faster Intel Celeron CPUn 128MB RAMn 8MB memory on video cardn 16-bit sound cardEvery machine is different, so see what works best for you.For help, contact The Computer Store or emailclickandhack@friscocomputerstore.com.


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