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Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Plextor ConvertX PX-M402U

3. Intervideo WinDVD Creator Software

Plextor ConvertX PX-M402U - Page 3

Intervideo WinDVD Creator Software

- Installation - First time configuration

WinDVD Creator 2 is the primary application included in Plextor's retail package. There is a newer version available from Intervideo, but we used the original version that Plextor provided in order to test the performance of the device with Plextor's package and to see what it has to offer. We applied all the necessary updates available from Plextor's web site.

When the program is launched for the first time, a configuration wizard helps configure the device.

From this screen we can select the television standard to use (we used PAL/25fps) and our prefered audio format.

WinDVD Creator can split files to overcome operating system shortfalls, or disc capacity limitations. A very useful feature is the slide show format used for still images. What this means is that when the device is trying to capture still images, it can capture the images as image files, and a slide show containing these images is produced by the software. This method saves space and improves quality.

WinDVD Creator supports Direct Recording. The converter captures video and sound from the source, converts them in real time, and then burns the files onto DVD media. All this is done with only two clicks, one to start and one to stop capturing. As easy as that. Direct Recording can be applied with the video profiles shown on the next snapshot.

These simple steps completed the main software/device configuration. Of course, if an error is made during setup, this wizard can be re-launched at anytime.

- Software/Device performance

The software provides DVD Authoring capabilities, along with video capturing and disc burning capabilities. For our tests, we used the "Plasma TV Demo DVD" provided by Pioneer. This disc provides the required still images, moving pictures and test screens that will be shown later on this review. We also used the Philips DVP720SA DVD Player. The ConvertX was connected with the analog audio output of the DVD Player and the S-Video output (we also made test captures with the composite input/output, but there was no difference in quality).

  • MPEG-2 & MPEG-1 Format

Intervideo WinDVD Creator uses several format profiles to make it easier for the end user to select the desirable video format. The following snapshot indicates the available profiles as available from the software.

As described in previous pages, the MPEG-2 format is used for all profiles, except for the VCD profile where the MPEG-1 encoding method is used. We tested all available profiles, and carried out several captures that will be shown later on this review.

The M402U managed to capture all scenes without any problems, and it recorded very low CPU usage, barely reaching 45-50% with high resolution moving scenes. Average CPU usage was around 25-30%.

  • MPEG-4 Format

Again, profiles are used by the software to determine the desired quality of the MPEG-4 files produced. Below you can see the available profiles, a rather wide variety of profiles.

Although MPEG-4 profiles make things easier, more advanced users might not like them. It is a fact that when profiles are used, certain parameters of the encoder are automatically configured, not giving the user the choise of activating or deactivating some minor features, like S(GMC)-VOP QuarterPixel. In general, profiles limit the uses and functionality of the codec but ensure compatibility with DivX players.

The converter did not have any problems converting audio/video streams with all these profiles. CPU usage was again very low. We could surf the internet, or use Nero Burning Rom in the background to burn DVD media, and CPU usage, even under these conditions barely reached 70%. Great performance from the PX-M402U.

- Burning Capabilities

We tried to burn some video files we created with the converter, using the WinDVD Creator software. Compared with the latest Nero version, not many parameters were available to the user, but you should remember that the main purpose of this software is not burning discs. We created a new project and inserted some of the created files. The followng picture shows the file types that can be inserted. When still images are inserted, the software generates slide shows that can be further edited by the user, adding transition effects or background music. This is another advantage of winDVD Creator, it provides basic DVD authoring.

The discs we used should first be formatted in VR format. You have the option to do a quick or full format.

The whole procedure is simple enough, even for novice users. We ended up with succesfully burned media in VR format.

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