DVD is an area that's often overlooked in reviews, and yet, we tend to see a number of DVD related questions in message forums. Let's first cover how you might employ DVD's on the Parhelia.
You're basically looking at a couple of options relating to DVD playback, which are dependent on your configuration. On a basic single monitor system, DVD playback is no different on the Parhelia. Where you get more options is in dual or triple-head mode. In these modes, you can drag the DVD window into another display as the Parhelia has a total of three hardware overlays. But Matrox has taken this one step further with DVDMax.
The Parhelia employs 10-bit DACs in the DVD pipeline so I had great expectations for the final output.
DVDMax is a feature that's geared towards multi-head configurations. What it boils down to is giving the user the ability to play a DVD on a secondary display in full-screen mode. In this case, you could be running a DVD on the non-primary display while working on the primary display. This may seem far-fetched, but I can assure you that I've had Lord of the Rings running while I was doing actual work!
Let's take a look at some of the options in detail. From the main PowerDesk interface you would click on the Video Playback Settings icon, which brings up the following control panel.
PowerDesk Video Playback Panel
Here's what the DVDMax configuration options look like.
PowerDesk PureVideo/DVDMax Panel
Placing the mouse over a given setting will fill the bottom portion of the window with helpful information. How many interfaces have we seen in which the manufacturer provides cryptic looking settings, some of which are legacy and no longer used, or simply settings that nobody really understands? Fear not, as Matrox gives you enough information to make an educated choice.
Now that we've seen some of the options made available to the end user, it's time to answer the question: "How does it look?" In short, I don't believe you'll find a better quality DVD picture than the Parhelia.
Picture quality is a difficult measure to gauge, but I can tell you that there was an immediate difference for the better compared to the GeForce4 when using WinDVD.