HD video playback on old netbooks/PC’s

Ever wanted to play 720p or 1080p H.264 video on your low end Atom based netbook, but you have no way of buying a new one that has the hardware accelerated H.264 decoding capability? Here is how you can do it. And this should also work on older desktop PC’s that struggle with HD movies…

Required stuff:
– regular Atom based netbook (in my case ACER Aspire One AOA150)
Media Player Classic Home Cinema (free)
DivX codec (it’s free!!!)

How to setup Media Player Classic – Home Cinema…
Install Media Player Classic. Click “View” and “Options…”. Select “Internal filters” and uncheck (remove checkmarks) in front of:
H264/AVC (FFmpeg)

Now go to Playback->Output where I suggest you select either VMR-9 (renderless) or Haali Renderer.
These two renderers work the best with Windows XP and they also provide subtitles support. EVR might work as well…

Click Ok to save changes.

How to setup DivX…
Install DivX Codec and open “Codec Settings” (you can find it in Start menu) -> Playback settings -> Advanced tab:

– enable Hardware de-interlace
– disable deblocking (under H.264)
– set Custom deblocking to “OFF” (under ASP)

Click Close to save settings.

Deblocking is the main reason for slow playback as the Atom just isn’t powerful enough to decode 1080p video and also deblock it. But since we’re talking about HD video, there really isn’t much need to deblock anything. Really fast moving scenes might look a bit blocky sometimes but in general, it shouldn’t cause much problems to the image quality.
Now, we also know nothing can really replace a powerful processor or a dedicated hardware H.264 decoder unit, but this comes damn close to that. And doesn’t cost you anything. 720p video is no problem. Most of 1080p videos also. For something that doesn’t cost anything, it’s just awesome.

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