Creative PC-DVD

Creative PC-DVD OEM Inlay Kit

Every once in a while I'll hit the local computer shows. The last one I attended didn't have much that I considered to be affordable or useful but just as we were getting ready to leave I spotted a medium brown box under a vendors table and with a bit of dickering bought my very first DVD Multimedia upgrade kit.
Now I'll admit to have covetously gazed at the ads for such devices in some of the trade magazines. A pretty hefty investment in a vew VCR and Home Theater sound system just last Xmas, not to mention a rather large library of video cassettes, the $300.00 (min.) price tag and the $20.00+ cost per title of the disks, just didn't make it seem a prudent buy on our budget. But here was an OEM kit for $110.00. The cash flew out of my wallet.

Now I read the labels on the outside of the box and in my innocence believed that I was buying the OEM version of the Creative PC-DVD2 Encore w/Dxr2. Primarily because the contents of the box were listed as:

CONTENTS:
    -    Creative PC-DVD drive (DVD224OE)
    -    MPEG2 Decoder board (CT7180)
    -    1 Feature connector cabte
    -    1 Getting Started Manual
    -    Packet with CD audio cable, DVD audio cable,
daisy-chain data cable, 4 screws
-    1 PC-DVD Player installation on CDROM

I guessed (incorrectly) that the Feature connector cable was the pass-thru cable so prominently identified in all of the descriptions of the Encore kit I had read. 
The other label on the box read:

CREATIVE® PC - DVD™
System Requirements:
-    Microsoft® Windows® 95
-    133 MHz or higher Pentium® IBM® PC compatible computer
-    16 MB RAM
-    10 MB available hard disk space
-    SVGA graphics adapter with 2MB RAM and with supported
Video Port (see below section "VGA Video Port Compatibility")
-    Available PCI 2.1 expansion slot
-    Available Enhanced IDE connector on the motherboard with
Bus Master DMA support
-    Available half-height drive bay for Creative® DVD-ROM drive
(drive rails may be required and are not included)
-    Sound Blaster® or 100% compatible sound card

    -    Amplified speakers or headphones
VGA Video Port Compatibility
    -    Proprielary port - used by 3Dlabs Permedia II
    -    VMI port - used by Cirrus Logic GD5446,5465,5480
-    LPB bus - used by S3 Trio64V2 Dx/GX, Virge
DX/GX - LPB bus
-    AMC port - used by ATI 3D Rage - II,3D Rage - Pro
-    VPE port - used by Trident 3Dimage 975

-    OAK OTI-217, OTI-317
-    NVIDIA RIVA 128
NOTE:    GUALITY OF VIDEO DISPLAY OUTPUT IS DEPENDENT
ON THE SUPPORTED VGA GRAPHICS CARD.
©   1998 Creative Technology Ltd. Sound Blaster and PC- DVD are
trademarks or registered trademarks of Creative Technology Ltd in
the United States andlor other countries. All other product or
brand
names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective
holders.

It seemed such a good buy that I went ahead and splurged on two movie titles and the only DVD game that I saw (Tex Murphy Overseer), and headed for home teeming with excitement.


Installation And Setup

Unpacking the box I was a little suprised that no external pass thru cable could be found and grew a bit more nervous as I flipped thru the manual and observed no reference to Dxr2.  Had I bought one of those first generation DVD kits that I'd heard nothing but complaints about???  No, on closer inspection of the drive itself it was clearly a x2 speed drive so I felt a little better.
As fas as Installation Manuals go this one deserves a spot on the NY Times Bestseller List.  It is very thorough on all the aspects of installation and setup (although the troubleshooting guide is a little sparse.)   The drive itself slid easily into a half height drive bay and the cable attachments are virtually indistinguishable from an ordinary CD drive.  After consulting the manual I decided that it would be prudent to set it up as the master on the second IDE channel. Although the manual shows several different configurations as both slave and master it does impart that performance would be best if it were set up as a master.  The MPEG2 Decoder card is not particularly large and easily fit into an available PCI slot - again consulting the manual I determined that I would get the best performance if the card were placed in the first or second PCI slot.   Slot #2 was available so in it went.  The cd audio cable coming off the DVD drive is easily attached to an open audio in port provided on the board which then passes out of the digital audio out port and connects up to the sound card. The "Inlay" system consists of a ribbon data cable much like those used to connect 2 Voodoo˛ cards in SLI mode.  It is very important to connect this cable correctly so one edge is color coded.  Depending on your video card you'll need to check both the manual for the decoder card as well as the one that came with your graphics card. 

System Configuration
Motherboard FIC VA-503+
Processor Intel P200MMX(100MHzx2)
Ram 64MB EDO SIMMs
Graphics Card ATI All in Wonder Pro (8MB PCI)
Hard Drive Maxtor 2.1G UDMA
Sound Card Blaster Awe 64
OS Windows 98

Before you close up the case, you would be wise to write down The serial number, hardware version number and firmware number all of which can be found on the top of the drive itself. You will need these numbers if you require tech support from Creative Labs.
The MPEG2 Decoder Card provides an Audio Line Out miniplug jack, an S-Video Out jack to hook up your TV-VCR, a Composite Video Out (RCA) jack and an AC-3 Dolby Digital Audio SPDIF Out jack.  Although the S-Video is said to provide a better picture, the cables required for me to hook it up to my TV were non existant except by mail order (and then, a 25ft. cable was going to cost around $80.00!!!).  I went with the Composite Video Out & the Audio Line Out, both of which I hooked up through my Dolby Pro Logic Home Theatre System.
On booting up Windows 98 detected the new PCI Multimedia Device and asked for drivers.   Since I expected Windows 98 to support DVD I thought I would need my Win98 CD but no!  The OS could not find any drivers so I inserted the installation disk that accompanied the package.  The drivers installed without a hitch and correctly moved 'PCI Multimedia Device' from the "Other Devices" folder to PC-DVD in the   "Sound, Video and Game Controllers" folder in the Device Manager.  The next step was to install and configure the PC-DVD Player program.  This was also easily accomplished.


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