|Sony Maximum Performance Upgrade Kit - Part 3
The first thing I noticed when I was about to begin
installing was that there were some cables missing. The first glaring omission was the
EIDE cable. I believe that most users wouldnt have one lying around. Luckily for me,
I had a spare one (from the Encore drive the Sony replaced). The other omissions were the
analog MPC3 cables that connects the analog CD-audio from the DVD drive to the MPEG-2
decoder card, and from the MPEG-2 card to your existing soundcards CD-in.
A quick email to the distributor
confirmed that these cables would be supplied in the full upgrade kit.
Other than that minor inconvenience, the installation went on smoothly.
Windows automatically detected the DVD-ROM drive without the need for me to supply any
drivers, and only stopped to prompt me to supply the drivers for the RM Hollywood Plus
card. After the drivers were recognised, all that was needed was for me to install the
application (REALMagic DVD Station Control player) software.
The software provided was very easy to use. The controls are
laid out pretty much like a control panel of a standalone DVD player, and as a bonus, the
cursor keys and Enter on the keyboard work like their counterparts on a
standalone DVD players remote control.
When using the monitor and switching to
full-screen mode, I liked the pop-up panel (which pops up like the Taskbar) that gives you
access to most of the DVD features (menu/volume/chapter searches/etc.), when you moved the
mouse pointer to the bottom of the screen. This seems much more intuitive than
Creatives pop up menu.
quality on all the DVD titles I tested were just amazing. The images were sharp and crisp
and the colours were as saturated as the PowerDVDs, without any of the jaggies found
The player also had some nice touches.
For instance, the mouse pointer automatically disappears if you do not move it for a while
and comes to life only when you move it afterwards. With the Encore, I find myself always
needing to push the pointer all the way to the right so it doesnt block off a part
of the screen.
The Advanced features of the player are also a lot more refined than
Creatives. You can click an Auto-Configure button which will adjust the
colour/brightness and sizing controls automatically, but you can also go through a manual
12 step process to calibrate all three colours (red, green and blue) independently. Unlike
Creatives software, the step-by-step tuning/calibration actually tells you what you
should aim for, so you do not set the values too high or low.
The only problem I had was that the software did not automatically save
the settings for future use. For instance, I calibrated the set for 800x600x16 bit, and
then switched to 1024x768x16 bit and ran the player at that resolution. When I switched
back to 800x600x16 bit, I had to re-calibrate all over again. I was using version 1.1 of
the software. The latest version is version 1.3, which fixes this problem.
Special Thanks to Mr
Michael Tan of Convergent Systems
for the provision of the Sony DVD Upgrade Kit