Creative Labs – PC-DVD Encore Dxr2 review

DVD-ROM upgrade kit
Photo of Creative Labs – PC-DVD Encore Dxr2
£170 + VAT

Creative Labs spear-headed the PC’s progress from near-mute, bleeping thing to multi-voiced musical instrument, with its Sound Blaster range of sound cards. The company was also instrumental (sorry) in pushing CDROM as the medium of choice for high volume data storage on the PC. Now the spotlight is on DVD which, after years of legal squabbling, is just starting to make its presence truly known.

This kit contains all you need to convert your PC into a DVD movie system. The vital part of the package is the DVD-ROM drive itself. This is actually a Matsushita/Panasonic unit covered in Creative Labs stickers, and can read DVD disks at 2-speed and CDROMs at up to 20-speed. Installing it is a piece of cake, because it has an EIDE interface at the rear and the usual CD audio cable for the connection of a sound card. In fact, this is no more difficult to install than any CDROM drive, with the necessary installation software supplied for DOS and Windows 95/98.

The other important part of the kit is the MPEG decoder card. This is a PCI device that connects to your existing graphics card via a loop-back cable, and then enhances and interpolates DVD movies so that they appear sharper and can be viewed full-screen at high resolution without any frame dropping. It supports Dolby Digital audio, too, and is especially useful in that it has a TV output socket, allowing you to view DVD movies on your television set. Assuming you have a long enough cable, that is.

Included in the box are a couple of frankly average DVD games, but more titles are expected to appear in the run-up to Christmas, and hundreds of films are already available in DVD format.

Company: Creative Labs

Contact: 01245 265265


Verdict
Like Creative's multimedia CDROM upgrade kits of a few years ago, this package is designed to kick-start the DVD market in the UK. And there's every chance that it will succeed. The drive itself is a competent DVD reader in addition to its capabilities as a CDROM drive, and the inclusion of the MPEG decoder card makes a big difference to movie playback quality, despite the use of a loop-back VGA cable. Even the price is right.