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My Experiences with DVD


My first DVD player was a PC based one (due to its cheapness) The DXR2 was one of the first widely available PC based DVD players about in the UK. So I guess its what most people who had a PC and wanted DVD used.


The DXR2 worked very well when connected to a TV, however its performance as a PC based player was somewhat lacking, the sound quality was noisy and the picture quality was also lacking, due to a low dot clock in the DXR2 (this meant that you had to set your monitor to a really low refresh rate in order to avoid that drain grill look). I found out the audio noise was due to an earth loop being made by having 2 CDROM/DVD drives connected to the card at once.
The DXR2 card does support this as it has 2 connectors and an audio mixer for this purpose.
Removing the second drive cured the audio problem.
The DVD drive decided to pack up after around a year (just out of guarantee) so I looked around for a sensible priced replacement, 
I  found one made by a company I'd never heard of before, but nothing surprises me these days with the amount of far eastern electronic good s that flood into this country

My second DVD player was a more conventional HIFI separate, I chose  a model made by Raite, I had run a Raite PC DVDROM drive for sometime before with no problems and as this model was very cheap I decided to go for it.

The Model I chose was the Raite Audiophile 713k.
Picture of Raite 713k
Specification

This unit boasts a 6 speed DVD drive capable of reading both CDR and CDRW discs along with dual layer DVDs. A host of outputs including discrete analogue 5.1 outputs for Dolby Digital (built in Dolby Digital decoder), S-video out, composite video out, SP/DIF Optical out capable of outputting DTS, AC3 and PCM encoded digital audio at 96kHz.
On top of all this it can play mp3's burned onto a CDR or CDRW has a karaoke  mode and a microphone mixer that will output your voice via the digital out with reverb if you need it, there is also a digital pitch shifter that will change the key of the music.

This unit will also plays DVD movies of any region (after a small key sequence on the remote control) and has the ability to disable macrovision allowing playback via a VCR (as the unit has no RF modulator) 
The unit is also able to play VCD and SVCD although I have none of these so I can't comment of quality.

Good Points

Very Cheap unit to buy
Region Free (but can be set to any region for region enhanced discs)
plays mp3
karaoke support
Supports IDE ATAPI DVDROM drives.


Bad points

Not many of these. The picture quality is maybe not quite as good as the DXR2 quantisation noise is evident on the darker parts of the picture, this maybe due to incorrect gamma correction in the video stage. Although NTSC discs may be played back via a PAL TV, 60Hz PAL playback is not available, leaving you with a picture that stutters once or twice a second where it drops a frame.

When its playing in this mode there are lipsync problems, I've noticed almost half a second lag between screen action and sound on some discs, This can sometimes be corrected by pausing and unpausing.

Things Started to go wrong

After I had my Raite DVD a year, I started to notice that the odd disc would not play correctly, prehaps it might stutter or pause towards the end of the disc. I only noticed this with new discs. At first I took the discs back and got them replaced, the replacements worked fine. This started to get very regular until one day I purchased 5 discs and none of them would play. I tried the discs on a friends player and they all played fine.

This could mean only one thing, there was a problem with the DVD reader in the Raite :(
I decided to break the waranty seal and look inside the unit. The insides of a cd player are not alien to me as I had a paying job repairing them for 5 years.
I looked inside to find that the rumers of this unit using an ordinary IDE drive were true, and the ironic thing was that Raite, in the case of my machine had used an Hitachi drive rather than one of their own. Out came the Pioneer slot-in drive from my PC, I sat it on top of the Hitachi drive and swapped the IDE and power cables over. I plugged in the audio, video and power cables and gingerly powered up the unit. Up came the raite screen, I inserted one of the DVDs that had been a problem perviously, instantly up came the menu, I selected the "play movie" option and it worked perfectly:)

My task now was to find a replacement drive that I could fit the front plate to. This was no easy task, the original Hitachi drive was a GD-2500 (no longer available in the UK) the only Hitachi drive now available here was the GD-7500 and the front looked different to the the picture of the GD-2500. I searched the internet for more information and discovered that the Panasonic drive shiped with the Creative labs DXR3 had also been used by Raite in some machines, however a closer inspection of the Panasonic drive revealed that the draw front plate was nothing like the Hitachi one.

So I had an interesting situation, I needed to replace the DVD drive in my PC and live with a very ugly but working DVD player. I decided to get the hitachi GD-7500, it was cheeper than I expected only £60 (UK) I powered up the drive and looked at the draw, it looked much the same as the the GD-2500. I removed the draw front plate and tried the Raite front plate. It looked like it would fit with some slight work to the draw front of the GD-7500. I carefully cut 5 slots in the front of the draw using a craft knife (the plastic was soft and cut easily) I tried the Raite plate and with a few more cuts it fitted perfectly, well allmost. There was one slight problem the GD-7500 draw sticks out about 2.5mm more than the 2500.

I removed the GD-2500 from the Raite player and replaced it with the GD-7500, I slid on the draw front and powered up the Raite. Up came the Raite screen (Yay!!!) I put in one of the previously unplayable DVD's and yes it worked, I put the casing back on the unit and placed the unit back on my hifi stack.

It wasn't until a few days later I noticed a problem, I decided to watch an old favorate (The Fifth Element), now my copy of this is region 1, I inserted the disc only to be presented with a screen with the VCD/SVCD logos on it and the word "LOADING" in the corner of the screen, I tried another region 1 disc and got the same result, i had a  horrible thought prehaps the drive its self was region locked, I had not even considered the fact that the drive its self may be region locked. I looked on the internet and found to my horror that it was RPC2 (region locked), RPC1 drives are not region locked and rely on your DVD software to deal with the region. I found out that there is a hacked firmware upgrade for the GD-7500. I downloaded it connected the drive to my pc and flashed it, I checked that the drive still worked, which it did and put the drive back into the Raite. This time the thing was able to play both region 1 and 2 discs with no problems.     

As time went on I decided that changing region codes to play RCE discs was begining to anoy me as was the lipsync of apparant lack of it on some discs. So I decided on a new player. Whilst looking round the usual HIFI shops in Gloucester my attention was drawn to a Yamaha player, going for 220, I asked the guy in the shop if he knew of any region hacks for it. He replied that didn't know of any, but there was bound to be one out there somewhere. I took a note of the model number (DVD-S510) and went home.
When I got home I logged onto the net, fired up trusty old google and did a search for "Yamaha DVD-S510 hack" it found 5 pages, the last of which contained the information I was looking for.
It basicly said that if you set a One-for-All 6 to code 0539 then dialed in extended code 085 that the players display would display a load of dashes, then using the players own remote you enter 222 222 005 255 followed by play then you player would be region free, what it didn't say was that this also dissables macrovision and allows RCE (Region Code Enhanced) discs to play.
I went back to the store and purchaced the player, took it home, borrowed my friends One-for-all 6, hacked my player and sat for the rest of the night watching DVD's.
I have found one problem with the player so far and thats with the region 1 copy of The Matix (which plays fine in the Raite), right at the part where the layer change occers it chops 3 seconds out of the middle of the movie this is at the point where they are all going to see the oracle and Morphius picks up the phone.He doesn't quite get the phone to his ear when the scene changes to the outside of the building, so far this is the only real problem I have found with the player, other niggles are that when playing an audio disc the onscreen display is hard to read due to the choice of colours and the positioning of the Yamaha backdrop picture.
Send me an comments etc via email dvd-web@oryn.fsck.tv