Friday, September 7, 2007

#32 DVD on your PC

by Jeff Smith


The next step in replacing your entertainment center's components
with your PC is replacing your DVD player.
Today's new computers pretty much all come with a DVD-ROM (reader)
or DVD-R/DVD-RW (reader/writer) as standard issue. But if you have an
old clunker, fear not, they're actually pretty cheap. You can find a
DVD-ROM for about $23 (including shipping) or a DVD-RW for about $10 more
from They used to be a lot more expensive than that, I have
a buddy who bought a DVD-RW when they first came out with them, and it cost
him a little over $400! (hey Bobby :-P) Apparently, it pays not to be an
early-adopter of new technology.
Having the newest and fastest stuff is
only good for bragging rights, and then only good for about 4 to 6 months.
For instructions on how to install a DVD drive in your PC, check out but skip the part
about PCI-based MPEG-2 decoders as you won't need one.
If your computer already has a DVD drive--reader or writer--then
you're most of the way there already. In fact, many new machines are set
up to play DVD's out of the box. So pop one in and see what happens.
If it tells you something about not having the proper plugins or decoders,
fear not, just go to and download the VLC Media Player.
This robust player will play just about any video you throw at it, including
Furthermore, its FREE! Its available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, so no
matter what operating system you use, VLC is there for you. It has all of
the needed codecs built in, so you won't need to add any.
Now you can sit back and enjoy your DVD's on your PC screen, or if your video
card has TV-out, you can pipe it on over to your bigscreen TV!

Next week I'll be covering multiple ways to stream TV shows to your
computer... See ya then!

Questions or comments, write me at

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