29 Aug 2012
Windows Media Player 12 very poor DivX playback
Hi, After a couple of years of being behind the times, I've just purchased a smart new Samsung laptop with a decent graphics card in order to allow me to play newer games. The laptop comes with Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 and it actually has two graphics cards, the Intel HD4000 (integrated into the Ivy Bridge i5 processor) and an nVidia 650M. The HD4000 is used by default for Windows and for non-demanding applications.
I have quite a large collection of films and TV shows that are in DivX format. My previous computer was running Vista, and I had an older version of the DivX codec installed to run them in WMP 11. This worked just fine and the quality was nice. Although most of the movie rips are in the 700mb range, I've always been quite choosy about quality and so on a 16" laptop screen they could almost pass for DVD quality.
Since running these on Windows 7, I've been shocked by the quality, or lack of. The quality in WMP 12 is a good 30-40% worse than it was previously. The videos run smoothly and are responsive, but the quality is more akin to streaming video, with jagged pixels and visible noise/artefacts. There was little of this when I used Vista
I've seen other threads discussing similar issues under Windows 7, but they seem to date back to 2009. My computer is brand new, with up-to-date DirectX and drivers, and all the Windows Updates installed. I see some people were thinking it could be due to the graphics card drivers, mainly nVidia ones. In my case, I'm not using the nVidia card for video playback, even though I know it does not yet have 'proper' drivers (it's a new model of card, on paper at least). I've tried forcing WMP 12 to use the 650M, and this makes no difference at all to the video quality.
I know that WMP 12 has built in DivX support now. Have other people found the quality of it to be poor? When I was using the DivX codec, you could adjust the post-processing settings and these did make quite a big difference to quality. Of course, under WMP 12 there is none of that. I've also installed VLC player and the problem remains, although the quality is a little better (post-processing settings make little difference though). Next step is to try a media player that doesn't have the built-in support for DivX so that I can install the old codec and run a direct comparison. Any suggestions?
I'm clinging to the hope now that it's some kind of driver issue, and that it'll be updated one day soon. I should mention that playback of other media seems to be fine. DVDs look OK, and in-game video seems the same as usual.
Has this problem really been hanging around for 3 years without a solution? Can anyone make any suggestions, given that my setup is somewhat different to previous ones? I'm not inclined to resort to installing codec packs or tweaking registry entries, as my system is fresh out of the box and I'd like to keep it that way for now. If WMP and VLC Player are just a bit sucky at running DivX then I can live with that, provided I can find a player that does handle it well. I would have thought though that there would have been more of an uproar about it if that were the case. I struggled to find any mention on Google of DivX issues under WMP 12.
I'm gutted. This laptop is great in every other way and up to now I really liked Windows 7, too. Now I just feel like I've thrown £700 down the drain. So much for progress.
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