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Posted on February 18th, 2010 by Sasha Muller

How to play HD video on a netbook

bigbuck bunny

Netbooks aren’t famed for their high-definition video playing prowess, but if you’ve got about $10 and a few minutes going spare, there is a way to enjoy high-definition trailers and videos on your Atom-powered portable.

You’ll need two things: a copy of Media Player Classic Home Cinema, and CoreCodec’s CoreAVC codec which you can purchase for the princely sum of $9.95.

Actually, we lied, you’ll need three things. You’ll also need some HD videos encoded in AVC or h.264 formats too. We downloaded the free animation, Big Buck Bunny, for our testing. We downloaded the 1080P h.264 version - be warned though, it’s a hefty 692MB download, so you may want to go and have a cup of tea or five if your internet connection is on the slow side. Alternatively, any high-definition h.264 movie trailer lurking on the internet will do just fine.

Windows 7 might already have h.264 support built in as standard, but try playing back HD content in Media Player and it’s unwatchably jerky. If you’re on Windows XP you can try watching HD videos with Media Player Classic’s built-in h.264 codec, but it too struggles to keep the video playing back smoothly; the sound drifting out of sync with the on-screen action as the Atom processor struggles to keep up.

Bringing HD home

It doesn’t matter whether your netbook is running Windows XP Home or Windows 7, but first you’ll need to install CoreAVC. You can untick Haali’s Media Splitter during the install process, just the codec itself will do just fine.

CoreAVC Install

Once CoreAVC is installed, go to the CoreCodec directory that’s appeared in your Start menu and select the Configure CoreAVC entry. Set Deblocking to Skip always, Deinterlacing to None and click OK.

CoreAVC properties

The next step is to run Media Player Classic Home Cinema. Select Options from the View dropdown menu and click the External Filters tab. Click the Add Filter… button at the top right of the window and double-click CoreAVC Video Decoder from the list. Make sure the Prefer option is ticked.

mpchc options filter

Now select Output in the Options menu and make sure that the DirectShow Video is set to EVR. Click OK, and close Media Player Classic to make sure the settings are applied.

mpchc options output

Open up the 1080P version of Big Buck Bunny now and, surprise surprise, you’ll find it’s watchable all the way through. There is the odd stutter here and there, and a little visual tearing where the Atom processor can’t quite keep the framerate perfectly smooth, but, crucially, the audio soundtrack doesn’t lose sync anymore. A netbook playing HD video? Well, we never thought we’d see the day.

Admittedly, though, even CoreAVC can’t turn a netbook into an HD devouring media beast. Several of our higher bitrate 1080P videos proved too much for the Atom processor, and more demanding scenes in 720P videos also suffered from a hint of stutter here and there. And, of course, CoreAVC can’t do anything about online HD content from Youtube and iPlayer. But all in all, we’re pretty impressed. HD or no HD, we know which we’d prefer!

And if you’re concerned what HD playback is going to do your netbook’s battery life, you might just be pleasantly surprised. We took one of the latest Pine Trail netbooks lying around the PC Pro office and with screen brightness set to maximum and 802.11n enabled, found that 90 minutes of looping a 720P trailer only sapped about 25% of our battery. Turn off wireless and drop the brightness a little and you’d probably be able to get through 3 or 4 movies before running out of juice: perfect for those boring, long-haul flights.

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58 Responses to “ How to play HD video on a netbook ”

  1. John Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 4:07 am

    Put these codecs on your W7 pc, and your done, I played the Buck Bunny 1920×1080 H.264 download on my atom 230 PC using WMP 12, played very well, no need to buy anything, or install another player, no configuration either, it just works. I played the movie on a 1680X1050 monitor.

    http://shark007.net/

     
  2. Alex Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Any way to do this on Linux?

     
  3. Pejeno Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 4:33 am

    @Alex #2

    Yeah.

    Google for:
    slashdot How To Play HD Video On a Netbook

    You’ll get the slashdot page to this story. Ignore that, scroll down and read the comments, and you’ll get this answer:

    VLC: This works for Windows, Linux, and FreeBSD… Step 1. Install VLC. Step 2. Done. I use Hulu Desktop on my Aspire One under Ubuntu NBR, and there is no magic to it. How did this sh1t make the main page?

     
  4. Darren Kopp Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 5:23 am

    +1 for shark007 codec pack. tis what i am using right now.

     
  5. David W Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 6:09 am

    Surely the first step would be to attach the netbook to a HD capable display? If not, why bother with HD, downscale it to fit…

     
  6. stasi47 Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 9:33 am

    @David W:
    Because there are people out there who do have HD display inside their netbooks.

     
  7. Danny Thomas Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Will this setup play Blu-Rays ?

     
  8. kitgerrits Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 10:50 am

    @Penejo
    Step 3: grab a cup of coffee, because the standard h264 codec with VLC can’t manage 720p on a netbook. (have you even tried the listed video?)
    Corecodec is a highly-optimized codec that can squeeze just that extra bit of power out of your CPU.
    There’s even a wrapper for it on Linux.
    Should you be (un)lucky enough to have a GMA500 GPU in your netbook, it can take care of the decoding for you by using mplayer-vaapi (custom build)

     
  9. Steve Cassidy Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    please be careful Kit; I have a feeling that while “Pejeno” is the guy’s nickname, “Penejo” might mean something frightfully rude…!

     
  10. Sasha Muller Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions everyone. I’ve gone back to my netbook(s) and tested out all the available options with the following results:

    1. MPC HC built-in codec – audio out of sync within seconds, and choppy video playback.

    2. VLC – dreadfully choppy playback, pauses for seconds at a time. Audio does stay in sync, but video struggles to keep up.

    3. Shark007 – by far the best of the free options. Almost as good as CoreAVC with the DivX h.264 decoder (Set to multithreaded, low latency, deblocking disabled), but audio drifts in and out far more regularly and does have some serious framerate drops in places.

    4. CoreAVC – still not perfect, but importantly audio stays in sync. Doesn’t struggle as badly as other codecs when it comes to the more complex scenes.

    Realistically, though, Big Buck Bunny is a pretty undemanding 1080P h.264 video. As I mentioned in the blog, 720P is probably about the sweet spot for a netbook, even with CoreAVC installed. Bluray, unless you have an Nvidia Ion powered netbook, is just never going to happen.

     
  11. Sandeep Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I completely agree with Pejeno. How did this shit even make it onto the main page ? People seem to have this weird misconception that netbooks are very slow and can’t handle much at all. I have a laptop with a slower config (a Fujitsu C1321) which can play 720p movie smoothly on Ubuntu using mplayer with xv as output. Optimizing and compiling the kernel makes it even better and absolutely stutter free. The movies I saw were “Up” and “9″.

     
  12. fenlander Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    @Sandeep
    That’s a much simpler method, then. Instead of installing a codec, I just install Ubuntu (after recompiling the kernel). Yeah, right…
    CoreAVC makes 720p very playable on my Samsung, but it took me a long time to find out just how to do this in conjunction with Media Player Classic. The CoreAVC website is a geek heaven and offers absolutely no help to anyone but media experts, so IMO the article is very useful. One point: most netbooks are still running XP, so choose VMR (windowed) in the Output screen, not EVR.

     
  13. Sasha Muller Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    @Sandeep: Since when was a Pentium M CPU slower than an Atom?

     
  14. Dale Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Just wanted to add that for £20 you can buy a broadcom chip that supports full 1080p hardware acceleration.

    1. buy broadcom chip (search ebay for bcm70012)
    2. install in mini pci-e slot (most netbooks have one spare)
    3. install xbmc

    full article here http://www.anandtech.com/gadgets/showdoc.aspx?i=3701

     
  15. Scott Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    How do you implement this on an Xp machine with Windows Media Player 9?

     
  16. Jack Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Has anyone tried VLC? How does it stack up? I am interested in buying a netbook with the Ion.

     
  17. hazydave Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    VLC is pretty weak, particularly for an Ion-based Netbook. The problem is that VLC isn’t using much in the way of hardware for video acceleration. In Windows 7, the OS-supplied AVC CODEC is using DXVA 2.0, which on my desktop means the CPU’s only about 1/5th as busy as it is running VLC. This will probably change, of course, as VLC evolves… it’s not an inherent problem with VLC.

    On a desktop, GPU acceleration is kind of a luxury for most video playback, though if you get 1080/60p camcorder video, even a beefy PC will have an issue without the GPU. On a Netbook, if you have a modern GPU, like the Ion, you want to use it.

    If you have the GMA500… well, you’re SOL. That’s actually a PowerVR core, close cousin to the GPU in the Motorola DROID or the iPhones. It’s not really a PC-class GPU, except in Intel’s imagination.

     
  18. David W Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    I agree with 720p, at least a couple of netbooks, like the Sonys, have 720p capable displays.

    1080p is overkill as I haven’t seen a single netbook with a 1080p capable display, yet…

     
  19. PJ Says:
    February 19th, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    How do you think the GMA500 would handle video from an Kodak XI8, either the hd or the 720p 30/60 frame footage?

    Updating to the latest Intel driver (v8.14.10.2020) cleaned up many of the non-hd video problems.

     
  20. Ron Says:
    February 20th, 2010 at 9:56 am

    This is all a simple matter of time tho isnt it? The next gen of net-books will be more powerful and will gobble up FullHD. They will however have great problems rendering 3d films (LOL). Incidentally, shouldn’t pilots be banned from watching those 3D films?

     
  21. Sysop Says:
    February 20th, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    What’s the point on running 1080p videos on netbooks? They usually can run at up most 1024×600 or 1366×768… 720p perfectly clear around here on my MSI U100.

     
  22. m-c1 Says:
    February 20th, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    “And, of course, CoreAVC can’t do anything about online HD content from Youtube and iPlayer.” But how can CoreAVC improve streaming WMV video content from MMS server?

     
  23. ktx Says:
    February 22nd, 2010 at 3:15 am

    Killing useless processes (you can even close explorer.exe from taskmgr) and setting MPC’s priority to realtime could help as well.

     
  24. gdr Says:
    February 22nd, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    I use HDMI cable to play HD contetnt on HDTV from my laptop. Tried numerous players and codecs, so far Light Alloy (shareware) coupled with ffdshow filters (freeware) handles HD content the best way. But I have to try coreAVC codec to see how it works.

     
  25. commenter Says:
    February 24th, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    I wanted to check if this would work with the HD file that I had, and I couldnt find a trial version.

    Luckily I ‘found’ a place to download an ahem, ‘unofficial unlimited trial version’.

    It worked, great so I bought a copy from the coreavc site.

    Shame they didn’t provide a trial though.

     
  26. motherload Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    There’s a new codec faster than CoreAVC called DiAVC. It’s $10 too.

    The trial doesn’t have a setup program yet, you download the zip, inside is just a single file diavc.ax. Then you enable it with the command: regsvr32 diavc.ax

     
  27. dcass Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    For GMA500, Intel’s new driver v.2023 (supersedes 2020), MPC-HC and Flash10.1 beta 3 will play HD (incl Youtube etc). Why is HD important? No need to transcode existing HD files and can hook up to an external HD display, esp useful when travelling

     
  28. Mike Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Useful set of solutions here in both the main article and the comments too. So thanks everyone!

    Thought I’d share a surprising (for me) experience. On my Samsung NC10 (wireless 54g and running on battery!), I was trying to use the 480p iPlayer feed (full screen), and chose Chrome v4 (well the excellent SRware IRON actually!), assuming it’d work better than Firefox… but it was jerky and had bad audio drift.

    Switching back to Firefox (with a vast swathe of plugins even!) and the same footage was was VERY smooth and had pretty much perfect audio sync.

    So something else to bare in mind for these machines.

    I said this was surprising, since I tend to use Chrome for speed jobs (over Firefox which I use for the “full experience”), due to its faster page load and java processing speeds, but it is clearly inferior for iPlayer on my machine. Have others seen this too?

     
  29. jake Says:
    March 2nd, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    I’m surprised there was a difference. There is actually a way to play even the iPlayer’s HD content smoothly on a netbook.

    You need to download “get_iplayer” and the “GOM Player”, both free. Plus you need either DiAVC or CoreAVC which are about $10 (I’d choose DiAVC speaking as someone whose tried both).

    Use get_iplayer to download the BBC program in HD and you can play it while it’s still downloading using the GOM Player.

    Tips: Other players like Media Player Classic can’t play the file while it’s still downloading. Use the ‘–raw’ option with get_iplayer so that it just downloads a ‘.flv’ file otherwise it’ll try to repackage it as an ‘.mp4′. The get_iplayer option for HD is –vmode=flashhd.

     
  30. SonJe Says:
    April 9th, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    HD is the best things that ever happened to videos since 3D, so why not give it a try?

     
  31. linkingeek Says:
    April 17th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Get CorePlayer Pro desktop and you will be sorted, i bet.
    Just any kind of playback is possible for this small package.
    i myself playing 1080 HD videos

     
  32. Jamy Says:
    April 29th, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I tried it with my old P4 VAIO laptop running XP but wmplayer classic is just crashing every time. Any idea?

     
  33. Tim Says:
    June 10th, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I would like some advice of encoding video ripping dvds for netbooks. Can someone help on optimum frame rates, resolutions, codecs, players (Quicktime or Media Player).

    Thanks

     
  34. Anon Says:
    July 9th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    @Tim, Rip with Handbrake using the iPod Touch preset and set the width to the same as the source (720 for DVD’s). Buy CoreAVC codec and play back through the player of your choice (I use WMP included with Win7)

     
  35. Gsiliceo Says:
    July 10th, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Feels good man, download youtube videos 1080 and convert them, now i can watch awesome trailers in all their glory

     
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    October 8th, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Good piece of details that you’ve obtained on this web site submit. Hope I might get some a lot more of the stuff in your website. I will occur again.

     
  37. TheGooch Says:
    November 25th, 2010 at 12:38 am

    I tried this and VLC, and went with VLC as it never failed me in the past. Plus I prefer open-source efforts as I believe OSS is the future of software.

     
  38. Karthik Says:
    December 9th, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Awesome,

    Great article. I was trying to view 720p videos in VLC earlier and it was not even average. Lot of frills.

    This CoreAVC and HMPC works simply great.

    However I need to tell that for loading subtitles we need to select EVR (Custom) in Home Media Player CLassic. It takes around 5 seconds to start the video, but plays smoothly.

    Once again thanks a ton guys

     
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    December 16th, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Hello, That was a great thread thank u sincerely for sharing this info with me.

     
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    January 14th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Once I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Is there any means you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

     
  41. Tom Says:
    March 27th, 2011 at 5:43 am

    Have you tried version 2.5 of coreAVC? I just installed it and it broke video playback, I get a screen that flashes between green, and a screen with vertical black lines in media player classic. But Windows Media Player works.

     
  42. Brad George Says:
    May 12th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    In my opinion now a days notebooks are capable of playing HD Videos.

     
  43. Petar Says:
    June 2nd, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I tried with Media Player Classic and shark007 codec but every time i start MPC my computer restarts, when i start program, i see blue screen with some message for a 2 seconds so i cant read message, then computer restarts… Can someone help?

     
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  50. Chun Labaro Says:
    April 17th, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    superb post.Never knew this, thanks for letting me know.

     
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    April 20th, 2012 at 10:31 am

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  52. dawee Says:
    April 30th, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Hi, thank you for great job, works perfectly for my Samsung N145 netbook! Even sorted problem with HD youtube videos.

     
  53. maldoandwae Says:
    December 13th, 2012 at 6:15 am

    my acer d2700 plays smoothly 720p in wmp and a little tearing in 1080p without coreavc but using coreavc with other players the videos more lags and choppy?

     
  54. mankaran Says:
    February 25th, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Its amazing correct. it worked i played full HD 1080p on my netbook.thanks pcpro

     
  55. Mike C Says:
    March 1st, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Don’t listen to idiots like Pejeno. You can’t just install VLC or MPC:HC with nothing else on say, an Atom N450 netbook, and play HD video. VLC can’t even play x264 720p video remotely close to anything resembling smooth. Plays like complete shit under Windows, Linux, or whatever.

     
  56. Vanessa Says:
    June 26th, 2013 at 6:29 am

    I cant believe this worked. I’ve tried FOREVER to get my lil hp mini 210 to play better quality mp4 videos and I was getting nowhere. Im not sue how I stubbled across this page, but I am sure glad I did! Thank you SO SO SO much

     
  57. james Says:
    November 5th, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    using this method makes my video files appear upside down. cant seem to find any fixes for the problem online =/

     
  58. Sofia Koutsouveli Says:
    March 17th, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    SmPlayer on Windows XP seems to work great for me, as well as VLC, and they’re both free.

     

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