Well anyway, this new version of the player has a feature called "blended desktop"... as an option, when you minimize the player you can have it blend the video on top of everything else on your desktop! That's damn cool. You just have to see it. You can be browsing the web or reading e-mails and have the movie going on at the same time. Granted, you need to have a positronic brain like Data to be able to take in a mixture of multiple signals and actually make sense of them all. But it's actually not QUITE as distracting as you'd think. And amazingly, it doesn't suck up system resources either. All your programs act as if they don't even know the difference. Although I wouldn't try playing a video file at the same time. hehe
However, I was disappointed that the ATI DVD player couldn't output to my TV. Well, it can, but I need to make the TV my primary display (so that the overlay goes to it) and maximize the DVD window... so I can't do anything else at the same time. Plus it's not the same as a true video signal to the TV; it's cropped to roughly the screen's size so the desktop area isn't clipped (whereas normally a TV signal stretches beyond the edges of the screen by an inch or two) and the closed caption data normally placed between frames is lost.
An earlier version of the ATI DVD player would make use of the second display if it was present, and automatically show the DVD video on there instead of in a window. But it was buggy in terms of aspect ratio and scaling, so apparently they nixed it.
What I want is a true hardware decoder that can send a real TV signal like that and not consume my desktop. My Creative DVD-ROM came with a Dxr3 decoder board that does just that, but it didn't have XP drivers. Last night I looked online and found a beta driver for it, so I downloaded and installed it.
It kinda works. 1/3 of the time, the player will start and show the first disclaimer screen of the DVD, but then the player application disappears and the image on the TV just freezes. Another 1/3 of the time it starts playing and gets to about the 3rd screen (usually a studio logo) and then my whole system restarts. Lovely. And the other 1/3 of the time it works beautifully.
Oh well. Such is the reality of beta drivers. I'll just have to make sure I don't have any unsaved work when I try to play a DVD on my TV. :)