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What is DVD?

DVD is the term which describes the next generation CD-ROM standard.

DVD was developed from the start to be a unified format for movies, audio, and computer storage. DVD disks are the same size as audio CD and CD-ROM discs, which makes DVD players backward-compatible with existing CD and CD-ROM disks. DVD was also developed to support future write-once (DVD-R) and read/write (DVD-RAM) discs.

DVD is supported by a consortium of major entertainment, consumer electronics and computer makers including, Fleming Multimedia Computers  (part of the Fleming Multimedia Group), Sigma Designs, Toshiba, Time-Warner, MGM, Columbia Tri-Star, Microsoft, Sony, Philips, Matsushita, IBM, JVC, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Pioneer, Thomson, and many others.

A DVD-ROM drive installed in a personal computer offers massive high-speed storage capacity of 17 gigabytes, which is over 25 times the capacity of a traditional CD-ROM. The same drive, which looks like a conventional CD-ROM drive, can support standard CD-ROM and CD-audio disks as well.

DVD videos have been released by Time-Warner, MGM and other major studios, and offer much higher video and audio quality than standard VHS tapes, as well as multiple video formats, foreign language sound tracks, subtitles, and navigational menus, which combine to vastly improve the enjoyment of home video.

For all of these reasons, DVD is expected to rapidly replace all CD-ROM, Audio CD, video game and video tape products.

What does DVD stand for?

Originally, DVD stood for Digital Video Disk. As the standard evolved to include additional capabilities, its meaning was changed to Digital Versatile Disc. This didn't translate well into every language, so now DVD doesn't stand for anything -- it's just DVD.

How do I upgrade to DVD?

Currently, there are two ways to upgrade to DVD: You can purchase a set top player for your television set, or you can purchase a DVD-ROM upgrade kit for your computer, which consists of a DVD-ROM drive and a DVD playback card, such as the REALmagic Hollywood. A set top player connects to your TV set like a VCR, usually with an S-Video cable. With a DVD-ROM upgrade kit, you install the DVD-ROM drive in place of (or in addition to) your computer's existing CD-ROM drive. You then install the DVD playback card in your computer's PCI slot, and run the Setup software which comes with the kit. With REALmagic Hollywood, you can optionally connect a cable to your television set, so that you can view movies on television set.Also software and new hardware can play DVD with DVD Rom drive on your computer but does not have the DVD out that DVD dDecoders do to play on your TV.

What's the difference between DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, & DVD-RAM?

DVD Discs:

DVD-Video: Discs which contain movies which can be played using set top DVD players.


A read-only disk which can be used like a CD-ROM disk to hold computer programs, such as multimedia encyclopedias, games, reference material and so forth. DVD-ROM disks have a capacity of 17 GB. This storage capacity is available with the drives on the market today. When used with the REALmagic Hollywood, a DVD-ROM drive can play DVD-Video movie titles, as well as interactive titles which use MPEG 1 or 2 full motion video.


Write-once DVD drives. The disks created by DVD-R drives can be played in any DVD-ROM drive. The DVD-R specification is finalized; disk capacities will be 3.6 GB per side, which is less than the 4.7 GB/side capacity of DVD-ROM's. DVD-R drives will be very expensive when first introduced -- perhaps in the $10,000 - $20,000 range, and are therefore initially intended for DVD content producers. We now have DVD Recorders for under 500.00.


Rewritable DVD drives. While availability is still a few years off, these high-speed rewritable drives will be in high demand for their ability to record data, sound and digital video in the highly-portable DVD disc format, offering 2.6 GB per side.

Can I use my old audio CD's and CD-ROM's with DVD?

Yes. Both set top and computer-based DVD players will play Audio CD's. Computer-based DVD players will play existing CD-ROM's as well.

Can I use CD-R (gold) discs in a DVD-ROM drive?

Maybe not. The first DVD-ROM drives released are incapable of playing CD-R (recordable) disks. These DVD drives can actually erase data from CD-R discs, so you must be careful not to use those disks in DVD-ROM drives. Newer DVD-ROM drives, coming out in the Summer of 1997, will have a second laser pickup for correctly playing CD-R discs. DVD-ROM drives which are incompatible with CD-R typically display a warning sticker on the drive tray, which you can see when you press the eject button.

Can I play DVD's in my CD-ROM drive?

No. Although CD's and DVD's are the same size, a CD-Audio or CD-ROM drive won't know what to do with a DVD-ROM disc.

Is DVD really going to take off?

Yes. In particular, DVD's backward-compatibility with CD-ROM's makes it an ideal replacement for CD-ROM drives, and most new computers sold in 1998 will contain DVD-ROM drives, and not CD-ROM drives.

Because it is both a unified and backward-compatible standard, offering vastly better performance in both the home video and computer storage arenas, DVD is truly a "no-brainer" upgrade for computer users. As drive prices fall and replace CD-ROM drives in new computer systems, DVD will become a de facto computer standard.

Shouldn't I just wait?

No. The DVD-Video and DVD-ROM standards are completed. Like CD-Audio and CD-ROM of today, the formats are as frozen today as they were many years ago. True, DVD prices will drop, and drive speeds will increase, but a DVD system purchased today will remain state of the art for several years, until DVD-RAM drives appear on the market in the year 2000. While many consumers will naturally wait for price drops, as with other computing technologies, many will find that the value in having and using the product today is worth the extra $100 or $200 savings that 8 to 12 months of waiting will deliver.

Is DVD rewritable?

Most DVD's currently are a ROM (Read-Only) format. Reasonably priced rewritable drives, called DVD-Recordable (write-once) and DVD-RAM (read/write), Are now widely available.

When will rewritable DVD's become available?

Drive manufacturers have promised DVD-Recordables (write-once) for the fall of 1997. While DVD-Video and DVD-ROM systems are available for less than $500 today, the first DVD-R drives will start at over $500.00. DVD-RAM (read/write) units became available until 1999 or 2000, A much cheap DVD-RW has come out and will replace DVD RAM before too long.

DVD Movies and Set Top Players:

When will movies become available? Right now. In March of 1997, DVD-Video was rolled out in 7 cities in the US, and distribution is expected to increase dramatically throughout 1997.

DVD Movies are now widely available at your local Video store.

Are videos from Hollywood movies becoming available?

When can I get them? Right now. Fifteen studios have released movies already.

When will interactive DVD titles become available?

Right now. Silent Steel and several other titles have been released. Over 100 companies are preparing titles for Fall '97 release. Many games and interactive titles are now on the market.

What do set top DVD players do that REALmagic Hollywood cannot? Nothing. Hollywood supports all of the features of set top DVD players, including multiple sound tracks, closed captioning, navigational menus, and so forth. To give set top players their credit, they're a little easier to set up, and most include remote controls. Hollywood does not, although a Sigma Designs OEM customer could sell Hollywood with a remote control. Finally, some high-end DVD set top boxes include 5-channel audio output connectors for Dolby AC-3 receivers. REALmagic Hollywood doesn't include this connector, although it does support the more commonly used Dolby Pro Logic technology.

What can REALmagic Hollywood do that set top players can't do?

Lots. For one thing, with REALmagic Hollywood you can view movies on either a television set or a computer monitor -- or both!

Also, since the DVD-ROM drive is connected to your computer, it offers high-speed CD-ROM and DVD-ROM access, for standard software as well as upcoming DVD-ROM titles. These DVD-ROM titles can include full-motion, interactive video, offering unprecedented realism and interactivity.

Thirdly, REALmagic Hollywood plays MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video from any source, with incredible clarity and smoothness.

If they do less, why do set top players cost more than REALmagic Hollywood?

There are several activities which Windows 95 and the Pentium processor do to help REALmagic Hollywood work. A set top player doesn't get a "host" -- it needs to provide its own processor, case, power supply and so forth.

Audio Support:

What is Dolby AC-3 Audio?

Dolby AC-3 Audio is a 5:1 channel surround sound playback system that provides incredibly realistic and exciting home theater performance. The 5:1 channels use 5 small "satellite" speakers and 1 sub-woofer speaker to provide complete, room-filling surround sound playback.

Currently, Dolby AC-3 is fairly expensive, requiring not only the 6 speakers but also an AC-3 compatible amplifier.

The biggest difference between Dolby AC-3 and Dolby Pro Logic is that AC-3 gets its 5:1 channels from 6 separate outputs. So, instead of connecting a stereo (2-channel) connector from the DVD player to the amplifier, you would connect 6 channels to the amp.

What is Dolby Pro Logic Audio?

Dolby Pro Logic is an established 5:1 channel surround sound playback system which includes all 6 channels of surround sound information in 2 stereo channels. A normal stereo amplifier can play a Pro Logic recording as stereo, but a Pro Logic amplifier can decode the "hidden" Pro Logic information to send all 6 channels to the speakers.

Pro Logic has been around for a few years, and is available from virtually all audio manufacturers.

What is SP/DIF?

SP/DIF is a 5:1 channel audio connector which is used to connect a DVD player to a Dolby AC-3 compatible receiver. Instead of sending just stereo information, it sends 6 separate sound channels to the amplifier. An SP/DIF connector is only useful if you have (or intend to purchase) a Dolby AC-3 equipped receiver and six surround-sound speakers.

Does REALmagic Hollywood support SP/DIF?

No, REALmagic Hollywood is not currently available with an SP/DIF connector. Instead, it converts the 5:1 Dolby AC-3 channels into 5:1 channel Dolby Pro Logic sound, which plays through your Windows sound card.

Video Support:

What's the difference between MPEG 2 video and DVD-Video? The video portion of DVD-Video is MPEG-2. However, DVD-Video is a superset of MPEG-2, because it also supports Dolby AC-3 audio, multiple audio tracks, navigable menus, and several other features.

Does REALmagic Hollywood play MPEG 1 and 2 video?

Yes, REALmagic Hollywood plays MPEG 1 and 2 files in many versatile ways. For example, movies can be played using the DVD Station software included with REALmagic Hollywood, using the MediaPlayer, or embedded inside of interactive training, education and entertainment titles.

Does REALmagic Hollywood play Video CD's?



REALmagic Hollywood Specifications & Details:

What are the System Requirements for REALmagic Hollywood?

* Intel-based PC with Pentium 133MHz or higher * PCI 2.1 compliant expansion slot * Plug and Play BIOS support * 16MB RAM and 2MB free hard disk space * SVGA card * DVD-ROM drive * 16-bit SoundBlaster-compatible sound card * Microsoft Windows 95 * Bus mastering IDE controller recommended * Amplified stereo speakers (Dolby AC-3 or Dolby ProLogic amplifier and speakers required for surround sound)

What parts do I add to my computer to install REALmagic Hollywood?

A REALmagic Hollywood consists of four parts:

1) You install the REALmagic Hollywood PCI card into a free PCI slot;              

2) You install a DVD-ROM drive and connect it to the computer's IDE connector;

3) Boot up your computer and insert the REALmagic floppy disk when Windows asks you;                                                                                                       

4) You put a DVD-ROM or DVD-Video disk in the new DVD-ROM drive!

What video formats does REALmagic Hollywood support?

REALmagic Hollywood supports all four DVD-Video formats, which are:

* Full Frame (4:3 video for 4:3 display) * Letterbox (16:9 video for 4:3 display) * Pan & Scan (16:9 video for 4:3 display) * Widescreen (16:9 video for 16:9 display)

In addition, REALmagic Hollywood can play the following file formats:

* MPEG-2 video and audio * MPEG-1 video and audio (layers I and II) * Video CD 1.0 and 2.0 * Karaoke CD

What is a Bus-Mastering IDE Controller and how do I get one?

A bus-mastering IDE controller can access data more quickly than a conventional IDE controller. Fortunately, most Pentium/PCI systems have bus-mastering IDE controllers. The trick is installing the correct driver software for enabling bus-mastering. Windows 95B (OS/R2) includes bus-mastering drivers, but Windows 95A does not. Typically, you can find upgraded drivers on a manufacturer's website, including microsoft.com, intel.com, and compaq.com.

Microsoft requires a bus-mastering IDE controller and driver for proper DVD-Video playback. If you do not install the bus-mastering driver, the DVD-ROM drive won't always be able to send enough data. This will cause dropped or jerky video frames, noise, and audio problems. Because REALmagic Hollywood doesn't bog down the Pentium, these problems typically don't happen when viewing a movie, unless you move the mouse, use another program while the movie is playing, etc.

What connectors does REALmagic Hollywood have?

* 15-pin VGA Out (to monitor) * 9-pin DIN VGA In (from VGA card) * TV Out (RCA/Composite) * TV Out (S-Video)

Does Hollywood support Macrovision and CSS Copy Protection, and how?

Yes, REALmagic Hollywood supports both the Macrovision (analog) and CSS Copy Protection mandated for the playback of encrypted DVD-Video titles.

Is REALmagic Hollywood MCI compatible?

Yes. Sigma and the Fleming Multimedia Group each have many years of experience in supporting MCI applications for interactive video playback.

Info contained on this FAQ page was supplied by:

Sigma Designs, Inc.

It has been Modified By Fleming Multimedia Group to reflect current information.

Fleming Multimedia Group
118 S. Main Street
Enterprise, Al 36330
Cell Ph: 389 - 2623
Office: 334-347-0017


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