Q&A – Are netbooks fast enough to play 720p video?
The trick is in the software you use. I’ve tried this out with an MSI Wind U100 and it works. Here’s what you need:
The software is important because Microsoft’s Windows Media Player is not lean enough to be able to do the job. The single-core Atom processors don’t have enough horsepower to run Windows Media Player and decode 720p video but with Media Player Classic and the FFdshow codec pack, you have lean applications that are fast and don’t waste CPU speed. You’ll need to make sure that you have no other applications running (not that you would if you’re watching a movie) and have Windows power management set to “always on” to ensure maximum CPU speed but you’ll find you should be able to get smooth 720p video playback using about 50% CPU loading.
Ideally, it’d be better if you could convert the videos back down to 1024×600 or 1024×576-pixels – depending on the native screen resolution of your netbook. basically, videos with larger frame sizes are a waste – the netbook has to decode them and shrink the frame size down to fit the native resolution of your netbook’s screen so any benefit of the extra resolution is wasted. That’s why if you can convert the videos to the correct screen resolution, you’ll not only save CPU speed, you’ll save battery life as well as space by not storing video frame pixels your netbook can’t use.
But in any case, with these two bits of software, you should be able to playback 720p HD video on any netbook equipped with at least an Atom N270 or N280 processor.
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