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What is the basic difference between hardware and software DVD.


DVD movies are stored in a compressed format called MPEG-2. Playing the video from a DVD is the process of

uncompressing the MPEG-2 and throwin' it up on your  computer screen. (Or TV, for that matter.)


Software DVD uses the main CPU in your computer  (occasionally assisted by special bits in your graphics

accellerator) does the work decoding that DVD video. You'll generally need a 500 MHz (or faster) processor to get good quality DVDE decoding.


Hardware DVD uses a special DVD decoding card with processors adapted to unpack that MPEG2 video, without

weighing down your main CPU. They also usually offer output to a TV, along with a digital output for Dolby 5.1 surround sound.


On an older, slower machine, you'll want a hardware DVD decoder. And, frankly, except for DVD playback of ATI's

Radeon video card , and the very best Software DVD run on  monster processors, hardware DVD usually has a slight edge.


Course, a lot of folks have never noticed any difference between the two... and software is usually less expensive!