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Below is about all the information I have come across dealing with the stutter problem. I `m fairly positive you've tried the majority of them, so my apologies for the repeat of suggestions. Dell's Instant Messenger is too limited for this, so I just added this page.

This is Dell-Cody`s suggestion:

Author:DELL-Cody   Date: 08/15 08:06PM  

This post is a request for information from customers experiencing this problem. I would like to thank the customers who have posted in previous threads regarding this particular problem (as they have provided valuable information towards solving the problem), and that your concerns have been noted.

For those customers and others experiencing extremely shaky and/or flashing DVD playback (intermittent in some cases), please perform the troubleshooting steps listed below (if applicable). If the problem is resolved at some point during the troubleshooting, please post a reply and detail where the problem disappeared. If the problem has not been resolved, please post a reply with the following information:

  1. Are all DVD movies that you play affected by this problem?
  2. Has there been any recent additions to the system, including printers, scanners, or software (such as Norton Antivirus updates or the PCFriendly DVD software)?
  3. Does the DVDROM drive work normally otherwise with data and/or audio CDs?

Troubleshooting steps:

Disable currently running applications that may be interfering.

Make sure when the DVD player is running that it is not being affected by external programs. To shut down active applications press [Ctrl-Alt-Del] to bring up the Close Program window, which will display a list of running programs. You will need to select each one in turn and press the 'End Task' button at the bottom. However, leave the item 'Explorer' and 'Systray' running, as they are necessary for Windows to operate. As you shut each of the programs down, you will need to bring the Close Program window back by pressing [Ctrl-Alt-Del] again. As you progress through this post, you should test DVD playback multiple times. It is important to perform the previous steps before every test to ensure other programs do not interfere with the test, as applications will restart after bootup.

Try using several different DVDs to make sure that an issue with a specific DVD is not causing the problem.

Disable Autorun.

To do this:
Go to Start | Settings | Control Panel | System - under the Device Manager tab.
Open CD-ROM, then double click on the CD-ROM device.
Click on Settings at the top.
Remove the check mark next to 'Auto-Insert notification'.
Click OK and close out of the Device Manager.
Shutdown and restart your system.

Then try manually starting the DVD player instead of using the Autorun to play DVD movies. Some third party players may need this feature disabled.

Install the latest DirectX drivers.

The latest 8.0a drivers are not shipped with Windows 98. They can be downloaded here.

If you have an NVIDIA-based graphics card, try the latest Dell-validated video driver, available on the File Library here.

Make sure that your resolution is completely compatible with the DVD player software.Go to START | SETTINGS | CONTROL PANEL | DISPLAY | Settings, and set your Display Area to 800x600, and your colors to 16-bit (also referred to as High Color).

Reinstall the DVD decoding software

a. Uninstall all DVD decoding software. Go to START | SETTINGS | CONTROL PANEL | Add/Remove Programs and uninstall any item containing the words 'dvd', 'pcfriendly', and/or 'cinemaster'. If the system asks if you should remove a shared file click the 'yes to all' button and then 'yes' to approve it. After completing this, go to the Windows Setup tab under the same Add/Remove Programs window. Double-click on the Multimedia section to open it, and ensure that the DVD Player box is UNchecked, then click OK twice.

b. Reboot your computer to save the changes.

c. If your system came with Cinemaster DVD decoding software, insert the Cinemaster CD that came bundled with your computer, and double click on the CD icon under My Computer to reinstall the software. If you wish to use the Windows 98 native DVD player, go back to the Multimedia tab within the Windows Setup tab of Add/Remove Programs, recheck the DVD Player box, and click OK twice.

Disable any screen savers by visiting the screen saver tab under the display icon in control panel. Also try disabling Advanced Power Management by visiting the Power Management icon in Control Panel and setting all options to Never. If these changes work, you may need to leave these changes in place, or change them as needed for playing DVDs.

If you still have problems, in order to make sure software is not causing the issue, restart the computer and hold down the CTRL key at the very beginning of the system bootup sequence and keep it held until you get the Windows 98 Startup Menu. At this screen, choose option 3 and hit Enter to get into Safe Mode. When a dialog box appears describing Safe Mode, click OK and the desktop will appear at 16 colors, 640x480 resolution. Click START | SETTINGS | CONTROL PANEL | SYSTEM | Device Manager and double click Display Adapters. Remove the display adapter listed, then click Close. Go back to the MSCONFIG program and remove the checks from in front of SYSTEM.INI, WIN.INI, and the Load Startup Group Items boxes, then click OK and restart when prompted. Windows 98 should reboot and redetect your video card, reboot again, then come back to the desktop with the default color settings. Test DVD playback at this point.

I`ve gotten some feedback from the members stating that Direct X8 caused them trouble after an update to video drivers, switching back to Direct X7   corrected the stutter but I`ve seen the exact opposite as well, from Direct X7 to Direct X8. I tend to believe one factor is the sequence of the install if all things are compatible. I`ve had some reports from the members and my own experience with the ATI Rage Fury video card. I dumped the Cinemaster decoder card and video card for my XPSR400 and my sequence must be video drivers, Direct Xx, then DVD player software, anything else screws it up.

Below is some additional information I found while writing this, some of it sounds promising:

1) If your DVD-ROM is of the IDE variety, then this is most likely a problem with your Windows bus mastering / HDD controlling drivers. Make sure that your DVD-ROM drivers are installed properly (they should be provided if they are needed - also check the manufacturer's website for the latest drivers). If possible, reinstall the Windows bus mastering drivers by going into "device manager" (control panel => system => device manager tab) and deleting the entries in the "Hard Disk controllers. Reboot and Windows should detect new drivers for your bus mastering (Windows CD required).

2) For some strange reason, certain software DVD players in combinations with certain DVD discs do not like DMA to be turned on. The key to this issue is "if it works, then great. If it doesn't then turn it on/off". This seems to be related to the mastering method used in certain DVD discs.

Quality of video from all players without hardware decoding was terrible with DMA (in My Computer Settings for the DVD Drive) turned off, with DMA turned on, most players report a 'Failure in Copy Protection Verification' or other non-relevant error messages. Same with Hardware acceleration (except with the REALHollywood Plus).

Disable UDMA for the DVD Drive in the BIOS, enable DMA in My Computer Settings, result: all works!

3) Make sure that the correct settings are set (e.g. regions). Use DVD Genie (Region Selector) to do this.

I know many people swear by DVD Genie. I also have a very good link in Section 70 of the CD/RW page, "Un-Official Cinemaster Info" but his server seems to be off line at this time. I recall one member mentioning he was going to try the suggestion underlined above but whether he did and  / or if the results worked, I do not know, he never wrote back. A yea or nay sometimes goes a long way.

I wish I had more to offer but I`ll keep checking.