Greetings, and welcome to an LGR thing, and this thing is the Creative Labs PC-DVD Encore Dxr2 DVD-ROM upgrade kit for PCs, released in October of 1997 at a suggested retail price of $379 US. "Get Tomorrow's Technology at Tomorrow's Price Today, with the 7-in-1 Futuristic Digital Video Disc Solution For Your PC & TV!" Oh my goodness! DVDs were extremely exciting back in the day. (And holy crap, 1997, if you had one of these things, you were absolutely on top of the world.) I didn't get a DVD-ROM until like 2003..
But, this was available in '97, and... honestly, it was relatively affordable, because this Encore release here, as the name implies, is the second generation DVD-ROM offered by Creative. The first one from them was their PC-DVD, released in March of 1997, and that was $500. So yeah, in just a handful of months, it had come down quite a bit; the tech had been upgraded and everything was better for less money. That's just late '90s tech! But anyway, this in particular uses Creative's Dynamic Xtended Resolution technology, hm... also known as Dxr2, and the idea here was that it provided line doubling to provide a kind of deinterlaced 480p image for DVD video.
And dynamic resolution interpolation up to 1280x1024, which meant, that you were supposed to get a clearer, smoother, crisper image on higher resolution monitors. But the Dxr2 isn't just for that kind of resolution scaling and whatnot, it is also the name of the card that is in here. That's right, this isn't just a drive, this is actually a card that you plug into a PCI slot, and this is an MPEG-2 decoder, which was pretty much a requirement for computers at this point, because it took quite a lot of processing power and graphical power and whatnot to make this happen, to get all of the video data in MPEG-2. So you needed a card like this,.
Especially on systems below 266 megahertz or so. Of course, this changed over the years, as faster and faster CPUs and GPUs came out, plus improved DVD software like WinDVD and PowerDVD just making much better usage of the processing and all the MPEG-2 stuff, which led to MPEG-2 cards like the Dxr2 becoming obsolete. But at this point in time, you needed that card, at least for the computers that were out there. And that's what we're gonna be installing it on, which in this episode, is a Packard Bell Multimedia 955, a computer that uh, isn't really great. *Chuckles* And I recently restored it here on LGR, specifically because it was so friggin' bland..
This is just the most middle-of-the-road late '90s kind of computer. Not a whole lot going on as you can see from these specs, but that's precisely why I wanted to get it up and running. Because, it's to me, one of those ideal examples of just a beige white box-lookin' tower that does what you need it to and absolutely nothing else, making it a prime example of something where you should be able to see upgrades really making a difference. As for this box itself, well, this is a new old stock box. It has uh, never been opened. Comes with all sorts of goodies inside.
And... packed in there are some pretty awesome extras. Mainly, the game Claw, the DVD-ROM version of the game, which I recently reviewed, and the DVD version of Wing Commander IV. *Chuckles* That's pretty sweet because normally, it came on CD-ROM in a big old box like this because... it came on six CDs, so you had just a lot of disc swapping and not only that, but the quality wasn't as good... as far as uh, video quality and whatnot, and yes, this is an FMV game.
With uh, a lot of awesome people in it, and if you've got it on a DVD, like in this package, then you just had the objectively superior experience, and one of the only ways to get it was to buy one of these packages and get it prepackaged. So, I am happy to have a copyfinally in this PC-DVD kit. But yeah, that's enough of talking about this thing, let's just dive into it and see what you got inside of one of these brand-new in October of 1997. *Box Opening Sounds* Hmm. *Box Opening Sounds*.
Oh my. Eheh, well. Okay, so it looks like the DVD-ROM drive itself... a big old bag of goodies and you got adapters, documentation, the DVD software... the Dxr2 MPEG-2 decoder card itself. Yeah, big ol' chunk of cardboard that is full of nothing whatsoever. *Chuckles* That's a lot of empty unused space. Yeah, I gotta take a look at this Dxr2 card itself because I have been darn curious about this thing ever since... I remember reading about these MPEG-2 decoders and whatnot back then. It just all seemed so... exotic and futuristic, like "Wow! This card is for DVDs!" *Chuckles*.
"Imagine what all these chips do!" And uh, yeah, this is a passthrough type of card, so you plug in your video card, well, cable from your video card goes in here, and then this is gonna go to your monitor. S-Video right here, and then S/PDIF audio out, just for your TV or Dolby Sound system. This can do 5.1 channel AC3 audio. 'Kay, let's see what we got here. Oh... okay, I was wondering if it would uh... actually have that big ol' Dxr2 *Chuckles* thing like it had on the front of the box, but... I guess not, so yeah, this is the thing. It's a 2x DVD-ROM, manufactured in November of 1997, so... I guess this one didn't quite come out on launch day, but that is alright..
Uh, I kind of expected that because there is uh, a different box art for these Dxr2 packages like this. Woah, that's a lotta... that's a lot of cautions. *Chuckles* "Caution, this is gonna be the death of you" in every language! And we've got this ol' bag of stuff here, which is.. still got a lot of air in it. Feel like I should say "Nice hiss." Okay, we have a reference thing here, which is like, yeah, "Don't contact us for these games and whatnot, 'cause we- we didn't make them." Uhhh, yeah, this is just, tech support. Okay, we have some uh, cables here for the uh, video and audio, it appears. Here's the passthrough to go between uh, the video card and the Dxr2. And just a regular IDE cables and little passthroughs there for the sound..
Uh, I- I guess that's probably for like CD-ROM audio. So we've got Wing Commander IV, the DVD interactive version... and Claw... also the DVD version. This is such a cool game, and I am excited to check this one out. And let's see, we have some software here on CD-ROM, which is... the player and the drivers and Microsoft ActiveMovie and a Creative sample clip. 'Mkay- Oh, there's a floppy disk too. Oh, that is just the drivers alone, which makes sense. You don't wanna put the cart before the horse, it's like, "Oh no! I can't get these because I put that in and replaced my CD drive, and now, nothing works!".
Eh, let's see here. Uh, accessories. Looks like some other crap you can get from Creative, which is fine. And we have the rather beefy Getting Started guide. *Chuckles* That's a lot for just getting started! Although, I guess, really, only up to... here, or so, is English. It's, I'm assuming, going to be pretty straightforward, but I will refer to this if I need to. Let's get this thing installed in the Packard Bell! *Clattering* So I'm not entirely sure how to get this out of here yet, but... I'm assuming like, everything else in this computer, it involves taking out the front panel..
*Clack* Yep. *Thud* (x4) I really don't like when computers do this, like it's a piece of metal that is actually still attached... to the chassis - that you have to bend out of shape, and it's all sharp and annoying and urgh. *Snip* Uurgggghhh... *Bang* (x9) *Whir*.
*Click* Uuuhhhh, yeah, that's really graceful. Least that gives me the chance to... dust out that little area. Now, something that I didn't actually notice earlier on the back of the DVD drive is this Digital Audio connector, that is for DAT, or Digital Audio Tape. I thought that was interesting, I've never really noticed this - that's what that's for on the back of some of these. Uh, but anyway, at this point, I need to change it from - well, no, I guess I need to keep it, it's on slave. The original CD-ROM that's in here is going to be... the master....
And then, this is gonna be the slave because... there is a lack of IDE connections in this thing. *Click* So that one's gonna go right here, this connects to the CD-ROM and this connects to the motherboard. And then, also, I wanna get the CD audio cable connected. I was wondering why it came with two of them. TThat this one right here goes from the DVD-ROM to the Dxr2 board. This one goes from your original CD-ROM to the Dxr2 board, and so that - they both go to the Dxr2 board, and then there's a third cable, probably the one that's already in here to go from the Dxr2 to your sound card..
Which, in this case, is not a card, it's an integrated sound chip right there. *Clattering* Okay, there we go... DVD drive is longer than the CD-ROM. Yeah, that's an annoyingly tight fit, but that's one reason I plug in all the cables before putting in the drive into the bay here, because... it's one less thing to worry about in this tiny little crammed area. The power... cable is not gonna reach. *Sigh* Seriously?!.
Why do they design it this way? What - what else is this supposed to connect to? I think if I take the one from the hard drive and then this one, which was on the CD-ROM, it's also plugged into the floppy disk, but... Okay, power is sorted... Got these frickin' cables going everywhere... *Rattling* And there's the ol' CD-ROM cable, which we don't need because... *Thud* it doesn't have a second connector. So we've got the two CD-ROM audio outputs... right here..
I just noticed that it didn't come with any screws. *Chuckles* *Snap* Probably these...? *Clattering* Alright... *Thud* It is now screwed. So yeah, we can see the different uh, audio inputs there for the CD-ROM audio. We have one and two, and then this goes to the sound card, so... I have the CD-ROM.
And then another CD-ROM... *Squeaking* Very squeaky. *Chuckles* But there we go, we have the CD audio situation sorted and then that'll plug into the motherboard. Arrrgh! *Sobbing* Alright, I'm just gonna get it inserted into the one free PCI slot. And there we go, it's as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14... or so..
It's a very simple process. *Chuckles* But yeah, we have everything installed, so these should be connected. Well, I'm not gonna put it all completely back together until we *test* this thing, because who knows? Oh yeah, can't forget though about the video situation, or really the graphics card and the video card situation, so yeah, this MPEG-2 Dxr2 card is a video card. You got a graphics chip that's in here, the ATI Rage IIC, which I actually read that some of the Rage II line have MPEG-2 encoding or decoding in there already, so either way, I'm gonna use the Dxr2. And so we got this little passthrough here - this is very similar to what you would do with a 3D accelerator card of the time period, like a 3DFX Voodoo..
So we've got the computer's VGA output going right here... to the VGA in... of the MPEG-2 card. and then of course, the computer monitor will plug in here to the VGA output. Or of course, if you're plugging it into a TV, you have uh, the S-Video, but we're not gonna use that. Okay, let's see what we got here. *Whir* We have video, that's good. Sweet. It's detected everything, so off to a good start..
Alright, we have a driver detection goin' on, so... I've got the floppy disk with just the driver. I'm gonna go ahead and use that, 'cause... I like floppy disks. *Click* Oh sweet. I got it. *Whir* Good good. Sooooo... was that it? *Chuckles* As far as getting the DVD drive to work, I mean....
I guess so. Yeah, it detects it. *Whir* Awesome! *Whir* Alright, well, let's just get straight to installing the included software and games and all that kind of stuff! I'm gonna do it from the DVD drive because I can! *Laughter*.
Could that get any more 1997?! Oh, I love that already. Alright, guess I gotta restart. ♪ Do- Boo Do- De Doop ♪ Aw man, I meant to get coffee like an hour ago. Okay, so we've got PC-DVD Encore Player. Okay. It's supposed to have something on the CD itself, like a sample from Creative. I guess it's doing video... card stuff now. It's not been set for this resolution, yeah, go ahead..
Figure it out man, you know what to do! You're smart! Mmm, it's a VOB file, so I guess I'm gonna have to just... Yeah, just select it this way. *Cry of Pain SFX* What the heck is this? *Bullet Shooting Glass SFX* You're getting shot at? Is this thing gonna get me shot? "What is it?" "Shh.".
Alright, this is the cheesiest thing I've ever seen. *Slam*"AAAHH!" "AAAAAHHH!" This is so dumb! What is this? Indiana Jane, I guess... and just some loser at his computer. Of course, that's - Who am I to talk? *Evil Laugh* *Anguished Cry* *Bang* (x2).
"I got her!" *Thud* "Don't get away!" "Yesss!" "I love you!" Aw no! He kissed his monitor! Ohhh nooo... Uuuunnnnggggh... .
Stoooooop... Stooop, Stop, stop. I will say though, that that... was just about the sharpest, clearest looking DVD playback that I've ever seen. On the other hand, I haven't really looked at a DVD in a long time, so... Who am I to say? This is interesting though, it does come with this Creative Disc Detector, and you can set different players for the different types of discs it can run, including like, video CDs, uh, CD interactive, or CD-i, Enhanced CDs, and of course, DVDs..
So in theory, if I were to insert like a movie, I guess, such as... this one, (Lovely, lovely movie.) then it should open PC-DVD automatically, the player for it. Yep! Sweet. Sweet in theory. Nothing's responding. Hm. *Thud* (x6) Yep! Yep, it froze... that's uh... that's great. That's unfortunate, had to hard reset this thing..
Just out of curiosity, I'm gonna try to open the file directly... and see what happens. Yeah, instantly froze, man. Huh. Well, alright. Hi there, once again, jumping a little bit out of chronological order here to give you uh... what happened with that video... not playing, the DVD Video of uh, Aladdin, which....
I tried tons of DVDs, man, everything that I could find. I tried dual-layer, single-layer, old, new, just all sorts of things. No DVD that I could find, even ones that I burned... Nothing worked. Not a single one. It froze the system every time. I tried different drivers, I tried different DVD player software, you know, like WinDVD, PowerDVD, other versions of Encore. Nothing worked, man. DMA settings, cables, swapped everything over the past couple of days now. I just decided "Screw it!" I'm not happy with the installation that's on here anyway of Windows 98 First Edition, so I wiped the whole thing clean. I went and reformatted the hard drive, put a completely fresh install of Windows 98 Second Edition,.
*and*, also put all sorts of fresh new drivers that I downloaded from the manufacturer's old websites. *Chuckles* But, all that worked out, because if I go to this down here and open the DVD Video option, we can run... any DVD, old or new, that I've thrown at it, and again, I'm going to be trying Aladdin here, because it's just one of my favorites. And check it out. It plays *perfectly fine*. It must have been some sort of software issue with *whatever* kind of installation was on that Packard Bell.
Originally, and I installed it using the - the master disc, um, from Packard Bell for this machine, so I don't really know... what happened, to be honest. Either way, DVDs work now and that makes me happy. Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled LGR hardware video. *Chuckles* Yay! DVDs! Alright, well, let's try some of the stuff that it came with, like... Claw, here. The DVD-ROM edition, 1.20..
Awesome, okay, so it has flipped over into the DVD video portion here. And... I'm seeing a little bit of flicker... but other than that, I mean, it's very clear. *BOOM* *BOOM* *BOOM* Yeah, there's definitely some flickering going on with the scaling, so I'm not sure if... *BOOM* "She's firing again!".
If this is using like the Dxr2 capabilities, or if it's because I have it running... in a resolution that it doesn't exactly want. Honestly, that flicker's still there, so... Whatever, man, I guess that's just the way that this particular video is encoded or something. "Reload cannons and give 'em another round from our broadside!" But yeah, and the gameplay is gonna be like, pretty much the same thing. It's really the DVD-ROM uh, intro video and the movies in between stuff, which, I mean, they look fine, they look about how they did on my Windows 98 machine, and that one just had a standard DVD-ROM..
No MPEG-2 card or anything like that, but I mean, yeah, that's - that's awesome! Claw! Yay! It's a good game. Now it's time to try the one I was really curious about. Wing Commander IV DVD Interactive... and this is uhhh, from what I've read, a double-sided DVD, so you have side A, and then you'd flip it over, and you have side B. And I remember when a lot of movies actually came like this too. I had a... the Mothman Prophecies on a double-sided DVD. And that just sort of went away as like the densities got higher and higher. Wing Commander IV DVD, yes! Install yourself. Man, I haven't played this in uh... a long time..
Alright, here we go. Now to me, that's already looking better than Claw, so maybe... just those particular cutscenes weren't like *Chuckles* the greatest quality. Anyway, I'm gonna shut up now so we can watch some friggin' Wing Commander. "Ghosts in the machine, Control, but I'm checking here." "No. Nada. Nothin'." "Don't let your imagination run wild." "Can't shake him, he's got lock!" "AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!" "...failure! Need help!".
"Shutting down..." "He's all yours, Dragon Leader." "Goodbye." *Laughter* *Clapping* *Laughter Intensifies* Okay. I did not plan that at all. The screensaver turned on while - *More Laughter Intensifying* But yeah, I completely forgot about that screensaver. My apologies. *Laughter* Uhhhh... Okay..
I gotta stop now if I'm just - I'm just gonna start playing Wing Commander. Well anyway, that is... the Creative Dxr2 and uh... I think it's pretty - pretty awesome actually, although - I hope that you enjoyed this look back at um... all this kind of stuff and stay tuned for more of this kind of stuff because I like doing these kinds of things: going back and just seeing how... a lot of these sort of these upgrade paths worked, especially in the late '90s, just cause I have a lot of nostalgia for that time period. And if you do, then yeah, stick around, there's new videos every Monday and Friday, sort of along these lines here on LGR. And as always, thank you very much for watching..