Watch Streaming, Ripped, and Encoded Movies on your PC


Your Movies on the WebComputers use many video compression codecs to minimize the file size while maintaining the image quality of full-length movies and television shows. You've probably heard of the major formats: Windows Media, Divx, AVI, and RealMedia.

However, because of the severe compression used, video and audio quality is compromised. These movies are not DVD quality, so you can't expect them to be perfect.

To get the most out of your viewing experience, follow these tips. They'll help you get closer to the "movie experience."


Decide whether to watch the movie full screen or in a window. The quality of your movie depends solely on how well it was encoded. Some movies will look just fine full screen, and others will not.

When you watch one of these video files, you'll notice that the colors seem faded. It almost looks like the brightness has been cranked way up. Turn the brightness down. It'll darken the black and make the picture look better. Once you turn the brightness down, you'll find that the picture on your monitor looks much better with the lights turned off.

If you have a TV-out feature on your video card, and if you can send it out to your television, do it. The resolution on a television screen is much lower than on a computer monitor. The picture will undoubtedly look better.

Finally, the various codecs may have unique options you can tweak on playback. The defaults are usually best, but you might find some other options that work.


The audio used in these codecs will be stereo, nothing more, and it's usually of good quality. If you have bad audio, routing audio through your home stereo will only exaggerate the bad quality. All you need is a set of standard PC speakers with a subwoofer. (Some stereo receivers can force audio through surround speakers.)


If you have an older machine, close all other programs before watching a movie. Movies take a large amount of processing power to decode. Consequently, an older machine may not be able to run the movie in full-screen mode.

A Divx movie, for example, is typically around 640MB. Because the file is so large it really works the hard drive, so close any programs that use the hard drive (downloads, Defrag, ScanDisk, games, and so on).

Here are the recommended requirements for good performance:

  • 500-MHz or faster Intel Celeron CPU
  • 128MB RAM
  • 8MB memory on video card
  • 16-bit sound card

You need requirements similar to these in order to play your movies full screen.

Every machine is different, so play around and see what works best for you. And wash the popcorn butter off you hands before you go back to your Web surfing.


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