If you have just bought a personal computer lately, chances are high that it has a DVD player or drive installed. However, in order for you to actually view that movie or video, you need to have the proper DVD decoders in your computer.
Even though a lot of operating systems have built in DVD decoders, it will still be to your advantage if you knew how the decoding process works, so in case of a problem you will be better able to explain it to the technician, and you will also be able to intelligently follow discussions on the subject in Internet forums and websites.
First of all, you need to know why DVD decoders exist in the first place; although these discs can hold a lot more data than the CDs, the files, be it movie, video game, or whatever, is still compressed to allow even more information to be packed in.
However, there is another reason why files in this format are compressed, and that is for copyright reasons. The compression of these files was agreed upon by the movie studios to prevent the contents from being pirated. The only way for these files to be decoded (and thus viewed by the player), is through the DVD decoder.
Another reason why DVD decoders are essential is that they can restore the files to the MPEG 2 format, which is used by these files. If you use any other type of decoder than the DVD decoder, the quality of the movie will be inferior. By using the right decoder, the original quality before it was compressed will become available.
For PC users, the DVD decoder is vital, because it is the component that will allow you to watch the film and play that game. It should be noted that there are no freeware programs for encoding DVDs available, but there are several types of software you can use to decode MPEG 2 files, including the popular VLC player.
The good thing though, is that a lot of the software that you will use for watching movies on this file format include the DVD decoder and encoder, so you just have to download the player to view the files. Among the most popular are WinDVD, DVDXpack and Window's own Media Player.
Besides watching movies and playing games, DVDs can also be used for backing up files. If you want to make a copy of your favorite DVD, use Cloner III, as it can disable the copyright protector in these movie files. It should be noted that most movie DVDs come in the 8 GB type, while most backup discs only have a capacity of 4 GB.
To make it fit, you need to remove the copyright protection on the DVD, copy it to your hard drive and compress it. Once it has been compressed to 4 GB or less, you can back it up on your disc.
The explanation offered above is applicable to most DVD decoders, although depending on the manufacturer, the techniques they employ for the actual decoding and encoding may slightly differ. However, with a basic understanding of the internal workings of the DVD, you will be in a better position to handle whatever problems may occur.
Peter Garant is a computer consultant and writes software review and electronic advice columns such as DVD decoder Info and Free DVD Burning Software Info for Tech FAQ Web Site.
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