Individual Entry


There’s no place like home

Windows Vista

My Windows Vista experience has been temporarily halted, after slightly under 72 hours. I’ve come to the conclusion that the video playback situation, at least in its current state, is too inconvenient for me to stick with. This morning, when I popped in The Maltese Falcon, I discovered that PAL overlay playback is severely borked: material such as subtitles and menu selection gets drawn for NTSC resolution, which means that everything is displaced and wonky. It’s something that can be worked around, but it makes it a pain the neck attempting to select anything on a menu, and means that, when watching a film with subtitles, the text ends up half-way up the screen. Oh, and for some reason, screen capturing in PowerDVD doesn’t work for PAL discs in Vista when hardware acceleration is enabled, which means that, when taking screenshots for reviews, I first have to switch the player into software mode. Not the end of the world, of course, but a giant pain in the neck and something I don’t see the point of continuing to struggle with.

Beyond the video support, I have no major issues with Vista whatsoever. Then again, I don’t exactly have any significant complaints about XP either (other than that it doesn’t look quite as pretty), and its video playback works the way it’s supposed to. For the time being, though, I’m going to continue to use XP and hope that a solution to my video woes eventually materialises, either in the form of better drivers from ATI, better DVD software from Cyberlink (or anyone else, come to that), or an end to this “no overlay” nonsense from Microsoft.

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2008 at 11:41 PM | Comments: 8
Categories: Cinema | DVD | Technology



I've had no problems whatsoever when it comes to DVD/video playback running PowerDVD in Vista. Could it be that NVIDIA has more compatible drivers than ATI has at the moment?

Posted by: , April 11, 2008 7:51 AM


It’s possible, but my experiences with an nVidia card in Vista just under a year ago were even worse. I seem to remember that hardware acceleration did work, but I had constant problems with the colour temperature, brightness and contrast settings randomly adjusting themselves on their own, in addition to the fact that ATI’s deinterlacing is somewhat better than Nvidia’s. By the way, which version of PowerDVD are you using? I’m on 6.5.

Incidentally, I did come up with a partial solution to my problems last night. In Media Player Classic, using the VMR9 output setting, I was able to get both PAL and NTSC content playing and deinterlacing properly. I was all set to use Media Player Classic as my DVD player of course until I discovered that no subtitles or menu overlays of any kind appear when using VMR9 mode. I think this is a problem with Media Player Classic, as it has the same problem when using Overlay output, something that PowerDVD didn’t have a problem with. I’m going to experiment with some of the other free media players and see if I can come up with a solution. If I can get things working properly, I’ll be more than happy to switch back to Vista immediately.

Posted by: Whiggles, April 11, 2008 10:00 AM


If you stick to using Media Player Classic instead of PowerDVD you'll find DVD playback is much improved in Vista (well, depending on the speed/hardware of your computer) as compared to XP. I recommend you download the Vista Codec Pack (, as well - there is also a new Media Player Classic Home Cinema which is modified especially for Vista playback - VMR9 is the old output technology, EVR is slightly more advanced DirectShow stuff.

I've been using Vista since November and I think once you get used to some of its quirks and the simplification of menus (and hack away all the stupid security prompting and whatever), it's much quicker to use.

Only problem with Vista is lack of support for (now) a minority of applications. Most importantly for DVD playback, programs like ReClock (adjust PAL video framerate+audio pitch on the fly) are completly unworking.

Posted by: Rob, April 12, 2008 4:07 AM


Hi Rob, many thanks for your suggestions and explanation of the current situation. I downloaded the Vista codec pack and Media Player Classic Home Cinema, and actually thought I was getting somewhere (subtitles worked through EVR - hooray!) until I tried looked at some interlaced content and realised that it was the same poor quality blended field look I was getting in Media Player 11. Only VMR9 and Overlay seem to give me decent-looking deinterlacing, and both of these are buggy as hell in Vista with the ATI drivers at the moment (no subtitles for the former; mangled display of subtitles and other weird problems like having to full-screen and window the image in order to get anything at all on PAL discs for the latter).

Posted by: Whiggles, April 12, 2008 10:49 AM


I'm using PowerDVD 7.3 Ultra and, as said, I've had no troubles with it so far. There were some problems with my nVidia card some time ago, but it was fixed with the latest driver upgrade.

Posted by: , April 14, 2008 8:28 AM


If you want quick and easy de-interlacing, try Video Lan Player (VLC).

For the best deinterlacing on the fly, you'll want to look into installing ffdshow, which is a DirectShow video and audio decoder - it plugs right into Media Player Classic once you've installed it, and you can select various forms of deinterlacing, upscaling, denoising, or whatever you want (it's the bee's knees, but it takes a few days of experimentation to get to grips with).

Guides and files at Also the official site (

Posted by: Rob, April 14, 2008 9:29 AM


Oh, and for subtitle support, VobSub is probably the best bet (part of the Vista Codec pack). I've always had mixed results with subtitles generally (sometimes they stop working), but if you're sticking with Media Player Classic (even VMR9), then you can use VobSub usually without issue. It's in the Start Menu, or the Vista Codec install folder).

ATI is rubbish at doing drivers, but it needn't hold you back - generally MPC on its own is nice enough at resizing DVD images to your monitor and deinterlacing (on the Output options tab, on the right side, choose 'Bicubic A=-1.00' for Resizer, which resizes things more efficiently - or if you use ffdshow, use Bilinear).

FINALLY (I should probably just link you to my guide when I find where I put it...!), if you want smoother playback in Vista (are you still testing it out?), and haven't already tried this, right click the icon of whatever video player you use, and click Properties. On the 'Compatability' tab, checkmark next to 'disable visual themes' and 'disable desktop composition'. These take up loads of RAM, and are best turned off when doing fullscreen stuff, since they're not in use.

Posted by: Rob, April 14, 2008 9:41 AM


I am indeed still trying to solve this problem, although I’m using XP for everything at the moment (it makes more sense than quitting Vista and booting XP every time I want to watch a problem DVD). I may install a trial version of PowerDVD 7.3 and see if it gives me any success (I seem to remember some seriously weird deinterlacing problems in PowerDVD 7.0, but that was a good 10 months ago), and also VLC.

Thanks again for your continued help with this issue. Could you link me to your guide, incidentally? I’d be interested to read it.

Posted by: Whiggles, April 14, 2008 10:58 AM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:


Back to...