You don't need a dedicated DVD player to enjoy the clarity, control, extra features, and excitement of DVD movies. DVD-ROM drives help bring the DVD movie experience to your PC, but having a DVD-ROM and a DVD movie player program is only part of what you need to bring the big screen to your desktop.
To get the most out of your desktop DVD experience, you need the following:
DVD playback software that supports Dolby Digital 5.1 or better output. One of the best choices is Cyberlink's PowerDVD 5.x, available from http://www.gocyberlink.com.
An audio adapter that supports Dolby Digital input from the DVD drive and will output to Dolby Digital 5.1–compatible audio hardware. Some will remix Dolby 5.1 to work on four-speaker setups if you don't have Dolby 5.1 hardware or will accept S/PDIF AC3 (Dolby Surround) input designed for a four-speaker system; some can also pass through Dolby Digital audio to speakers that can perform the Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding. Some high-end audio adapters now support 6.1 and 7.1 speaker configurations; these also work with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.
Dolby Digital 5.1–compatible stereo receiver and speakers. Most high-end sound cards with Dolby Digital 5.1 support connection to analog-input Dolby Digital 5.1 receivers, but some, such as the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live!, Audigy, and Audigy 2 Platinum series and the Hercules Digifire 7.1, Game Theater XP 7.1, and Fortissimo III 7.1 support digital-input speaker systems. Depending on which types of speakers you are using and how they are attached, you might need to switch your mixer settings in Windows from analog to digital to hear sounds from your applications (movies, games, and so on).
To learn more about speaker terminology and how to ensure your speaker configuration is correct, see the section " Speakers," later in this chapter.
Voice Dictation and Control
Voice dictation and voice control are a long-time dream of computer users, but unlike science-fiction movies in which the computer always understands the speaker, real-life applications for voice interfacing to computers haven't always been satisfying in practice.
Current vendors of voice-dictation software available in English include
Although the number of vendors of voice-dictation and control software is smaller than it was a few years ago, results are getting better, particularly if you
Take time to train the software adequately.
Use a computer with a 1GHz or faster processor and 256MB of RAM or greater.
Note - You can find an excellent summary of the current state of voice recognition, links to products and articles, as well as historical information at Itamar Even-Zohar's Page on Speech Recognition ( http://www.tau.ac.il/~itamarez/Voice/).
For more information about voice recognition, see "Voice Dictation Software" in Chapter 20 of Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 12th Edition, included on the disc accompanying this book.
Sound producers are people who intend to create their own sound files. These can range from casual business users recording low-fidelity voice annotations to professional musicians and MIDI maniacs. These users need an adapter that can perform as much of the audio processing as possible itself, so as not to place an additional burden on the system processor. Adapters that use DSPs to perform compression and other tasks are highly recommended in this case. Musicians will certainly want an adapter with as many voices as possible and a wavetable synthesizer. Adapters with expandable memory arrays and the capability to create and modify custom wavetables are also preferable.
Many of the best sound cards for hardcore gamers also are suitable for sound producers by adding the appropriate sound-editing programs, such as Sound Forge, and by equipping the card with the appropriate connectors for SPDIF digital audio and MIDI interfaces. The latest Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum and Platinum Pro include internal (Platinum) and external (Platinum Pro) breakout boxes with these features. The Creative Labs Audigy 2 NX and other USB devices with 24-bit/96KHz sampling provide features similar to those found on the Audigy 2 ZS Platinum series, but can be added to any system with a USB port. Most other audio cards designed for sound production features add jacks to the traditional trio of connectors on the rear card bracket.
This chapter is from Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 16th edition,by Scott Mueller. (Que Books, 2004, ISBN: 0789731738). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today.
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