June 08, 2005

Times are getting tough

You know you’ve got an old PC when you can’t play video anymore.

I downloaded a preview of Quicktime 7 for Windows—I wanted to check out what all the buzz on H.264 was all about. I then downloaded the lowest quality hi-def trailer of Serenity—which was around 50Mb.

This was just 480p, not even 720p. OK, here’s the primer on high definition video:

  • 480p—480 progressively scanned lines (DVD quality). More exactly, with reference to Quicktime 7 it means a “16:9 aspect ratio, 852×480 pixels files encoded in AVC/H.264”. I know, too much lingo.
  • 720p—720 progressively scanned lines (High def). Usually the resolution is 1280×720. This is the most common format for HDTV, I think.
  • 1080i—Vertical resolution of 1080 lines, usually with a horizontal resolution of 1920 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:9, but interlaced.
  • 1080p—“True High-Definition”, 1920×1080 progressive. I can always dream.

Oh, read up on progressive scanning & interlaced scanning at Wikipedia.

My crappy five year old CRT can only show a max resolution of 1024×768. So only 480p should work—but my 1.8Ghz P4 along with a really slow HDD makes my machine too slow to even decode this. I played the file, and saw the video maybe play at 10 frames per second, stopping and starting at will. No audio.

I think I should be able to play 480p after Quicktime 7 officially released—they might have a few optimizations. The Quicktime page says that I need:

  1. 1.8 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or faster processor It’s exactly 1.8 GHz
  2. At least 256 MB of RAM It’s exactly 256Mb, but 32 Mb shared for video
  3. 64 MB or greater video card (Can’t play any games too, no video card)
  4. Windows 2000 or XP

And I have to use this machine for atleast a couple of years more. Crap.

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