Watching DVDs on the Mac

1999: I watched my first DVD, Blade Runner: Director’s Cut, on a 300 MHz Blue and White Power Mac G3 with a 20″ monitor. It worked, but I get a smoother picture with my DVD player and TV at home.

In June, as a combined Father’s Day and birthday present, I got a DVD player. We picked up a couple movies to watch, Casablanca and The Fugitive. They looked great on my TV.

I brought The Fugitive to work and ran it on the Power Mac G3. It paled in comparison to my $350 DVD player and $350 27″ TV. It was a bit jerky, grainy, and the quality got even worse when I tried to do anything else on the computer.

The same thing happened this week when I popped in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer DVD. It would come to a standstill when I used other programs.

This is on the Blue and White G3 with hardware decoding on its ATI video card. It wasn’t using the CPU to process the video, which the current iMac DV and Power Mac G4 models do.

Field reports on the iMac and the Power Mac G4 regularly report that the sound and video get out of sync, a situation which apparently gets worse with every change of scene in a movie.

Frankly, I don’t get it. Why watch DVDs on a $1,300 (or more) computer when you can buy a real DVD player for $250-350, connect it to your TV, and get far better quality sound and pictures.

Sure, it’s geeky cool to watch DVDs on your computer, but am I missing something here?

With a separate DVD player, nothing the computer does causes problems. The picture isn’t grainy. The sound isn’t limited by the computer’s speaker (or speakers, in the case of the iMac).

I’ll grant that watching movies on vacation with a PowerBook is probably the most practical application of DVD technology on a computer.

But if you’re in the market for an iMac, the $300 difference between the base Blueberry model and the iMac DV can pay for a real DVD player.

What is the attraction of watching DVDs on the Mac?

Further Reading

  • The DVD Page, my introduction to DVD
  • The DVD Resource Page, best DVD resource I know of. Not only an excellent site, but the webmaster is a Mac user, so he comments on DVDs that are problematic on the Mac.

Keywords: #dvd #imacdv #dvdonmac