Wednesday, March 08, 2006


A customer contacted me today to tell me that he had bought a new DVD drive for his computer, which he installed himself in the hope of being able to watch DVDs on his PC. Unfortunately, when he inserted a DVD in the drive and launched Windows Media Player he was greeted with an error message stating that there was no video codec present. At this point he contacted PC Medic for help.

The customer had purchased an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) DVD drive to save money. OEM components generally come in a brown box with no instructions and no software and are intended primarily for system builders. However, if you feel reasonably confident about installing hardware without detailed manufacturers instructions then some money can be saved by going down the OEM route. What the customer didn't realize is that Windows XP does not natively have built in DVD decoding capability, because of licensing issues, and the decoding software is generally only supplied with what are termed "retail" packs. These are the printed boxes of components that you find on the shelves of PC World.

A decoder performs three functions:
It unlocks the copy protection applied to the video files on a DVD movie disc;
It decodes the MPEG2 formatting applied to video content;
It displays the video through a viewer program installed in Windows.

The solution was to purchase a commercial decoder and install it. A number of options were available for download from NVidia, Sonic, Cyberlink Corp. and Intervideo Corp. so we went for DVD XPack from Intervideo at $14.95. A simple install and he was up and running with his new DVD player.

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