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REALmagic Hollywood Plus DVD Decoder Card
Date 15th September 1999
Author Dean Claxton
Editor James "Agg" Rolfe
Manufacturer Sigma Designs


Introduction

A little while back I purchased a Pioneer DVD drive with the intention of using the video-out capabilities of my AGP video card to watch DVD movies on my television. I installed the drive along with the latest version of 'PowerDVD' (a software DVD decoder/player) and expected to get pretty good results on my overclocked Celeron 300A (464MHz). To cut a long story short, the TV output quality of the video card turned out to be crap, as is the TV out quality on most cards, and I had bugger all chance of getting my family and friends to pull up a chair around my little 15 inch monitor. Especially when you consider that a true widescreen movie has an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 - on my monitor that equates to a displayed image not much bigger than the slot in my letterbox!

To make things worse, although the image displayed by the software decoder was of a reasonable quality on the monitor, I did notice a fair bit of aliasing (jaggies), the occasional stutter, and some blocking of the picture due to the cpu not quite being able to keep up with rapidly changing imagery.

I decided, after a discussion with an experienced friend, that the only way I was going to get stand-alone DVD player quality from my PC was to install a dedicated DVD decoder with its own video and audio outputs. So, I set off in my quest for a suitable card, and after a brief search I found the REALmagic Hollywood Plus at EYO Technologies in Sydney.

I purchased the card via their on-line store http://eyo.com.au and found their service to be very prompt and efficient. Within seconds of ordering I had received confirmation by e-mail, and an hour or so later I received another e-mail to tell me that my card would be shipped that afternoon. It was delivered in my hands by courier the very next day.

The product supplied is an OEM version of the REALmagic Hollywood Plus packaged under the name DVDmagic PRO, and the box proudly bears the 'REALmagic in it' logo.


This card is identical to the retail Hollywood Plus product as marketed by REALmagic - it utilises the very same REALmagic hardware and software (both drivers and application software), and has identical capabilities and performance. The DVDmagic PRO will be referred to as a REALmagic Hollywood Plus from this point onward.

The purchase price of the Hollywood Plus at the time I bought it was AUS $200, with an additional charge of AUD$8 for the overnight courier.

Heres what you get for your money:

What's in the box?
  • The REALmagic Hollywood Plus Decoder Card
  • S-Video to Composite Adaptor Cable
  • 3.5mm Stereo loop cable
  • Video loop cable
  • RCA to RCA S/P-DIF Cable (for Dolby Digital)
  • Manual
  • Driver and Application Floppy Disks
  • Star Trek screen saver CD-ROM.
You get almost everything you need to get your system up and running. Additionally, you may need to purchase a video cable (either composite or S-video) for connection to your TV or A/V amplifier, and an audio cable if you do not have an S/P-DIF (Sony/Philips Digital InterFace) input on amplifier. I purchased a high quality composite video cable (RCA plug to RCA plug) and an audio cable that converted from the 3mm stereo plug to 2 RCA plugs for about AUD$17 from my local electronics store.



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All original content copyright James Rolfe.
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