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Creative DVD-ROM Dxr3 6x A Review
DVD-ROM Hell Bent Or Heavan Sent

So you want to add a DVD-ROM to your PC???? After hours of frustration, trips to the forum to get help, and more IRQ's than you can shake a screwdriver at, you might just be able to get one to work. From start to finish it took us over a day and a half to get our Creative PC-DVD Encore 6X DXR3 drive installed, up and running, and actually playing DVD's.

As with many PC upgrades, there were times when we it felt completely hopeless and we had absolutely decided to pack the drive up and send it right back to Creative. After all, how much hair pulling is it worth?

Our problems began when we opened up our chassis to install the new DVD-ROM Drive and the accompanying DXR3 Card. The card works with a pass-through cable, which was frustrating as we already have to pass through for our Diamond Monster 3DFX card. Oh well, you've got to make choices, and our mission was DVD. Walking through the instruction book (yep, we even read the instructions) was a lesson in futility, an aimless guide which makes you jump from page to page and doesn't really answer any questions.

It took several attempts to resolve resource conflicts and our IRQ situation was a mess. The Creative drivers wouldn't budge, so we had a lot of juggling to do to get things to stop conflicting (can't we all just get along!?!?!).

After working out the IRQ issues, we realize that we've got the drive connected completely wrong to our motherboard...Is it a Master?...A Slave? A Primary Master? A secondary Slave? Arrrrggghhh!

After getting all the Master-Slave issues worked out with our internal hard drive, we finally got our system to recognize BOTH the DXR3 card AND the Drive. Yeah us!

But wait, nope, it didn't really recognize the DVD-ROM aspect of the drive, only the CD-ROM. DAMN, I knew we were getting off too easy. Our time check showed over two hours had past (my, how time flies when you're upgrading your system).

After installing the Creative DVD Player software and a little annoying app called "Disc Detector", we thought we'd be off and running.....But we were sadly mistaken. Not only did it not work, our system became way more unstable than before....That's no good.

Next step, read the trouble shooting section of the manual (a pithy 3 pages that doesn't really cover much). We do attempt to update the DMA transfer, something that requires us to dive into our BIOS. As we switched BIOS settings I kicked the Creative Box across the room, "Plug and Play, My Ass!".

After a nice long break, and some food, I was back at it. Changing the BIOS didn't solve the problems. I could get the player to recognize any DVD that didn't have ROM stuff on it (hey, progress), only it would crash when I played them (damn!) and the drive refused to recognize any DVD-ROM's, especially anything with "PC Friendly".

I went to the 'net for some assistance, which I should have probably done hours earlier. What I found blew me away - Creative's site had no support documents for the product, no updated drivers, no faq's, nothing but marketing crap, and what made matters worse, they had LINKS to the support sections for both the documents and drivers, which let us do way too much digging to realize they didn't have anything to help us.

Sifting through the registration packet, I found the support number, which I called, and it was closed (even though according to the insert it should have been open).

We have to wait till the next day. Time Passed: Way too much!

We call support the next day and find out that we need to update the SCSI drivers for our scanner and we go to Adaptec to get the updated drivers, which seemed to fix things.

Now we're able to play DVD's and access DVD-ROM's. We're happy. Only one thing, though - the quality is really poor. We go digging around the web and find that we're not the only ones who are having quality issues. After resetting our refresh rate on our monitor to an obnoxiously low level, we see some progress but decide to go down an ill fated path based on a usenet post.

We uninstall the Creative Player software, which is really crap, and install the Hollywood+ player. It turns out the DXR3 is really a Hollywood+ card with Creative stamped on it. After installing the Hollywood+ player we find out we need another app to "trick" the Hollywood+ player into playing on our Creative Drive. We get it and play our demo disk for this day and a half of fun - The X-Files.

WOW!!!!! NIRVANA! It worked, and was much much much better than the Creative Player and we didn't have to contend with the annoying Disc Detector app that Creative forces you to use. We thought we were all set, read to roll, then I tried playing You've Got Mail. No go! Turns out that for some DVD-ROM's, the little app that "tricks" the Hollywood+ player doesn't work. DAMN!

So off comes Hollywood+ and back in goes Creative Player!

At this point I'm sure you can feel our pain, and you're probably asking why we'd recommend anyone go through this pain for DVD on their PC. Actually, we're not. The Creative Encore Kit was far too complicated for something that should have been straight forward to install. The real winner here was the Hollywood+ software and board. When we were able to run it, the Hollywood+ player had a dramatic impact on playing DVD's on our PC. Although it does not exceed the experience of a regular DVD player, our DVD-ROM did provide an excellent experience, and the joy of watching the X-Files while answering e-mail is undescribable.

After this experience we decided to add a DVD-ROM forum to the DVD Talk Forum .

-Geoffrey Kleinman

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