DVD won't play: Hardware or Software issue?

My computer will play audio CDs, but is not able to read or play movie DVDs. Is it because I don’t have the right type of CD drive or because I don’t have the right software installed on my computer?

My small knowledge of computers insists that you need a DVD-ROM to play your DVDs on the computer. That’s what we have, and it works just fine.

Optical drives include CD-RW (probably what you have), DVD-ROM, and DVD+/-RW. Only the latter two will read CDs and DVDs.

Look on the front of your optical drive. They usually have a symbol on the front that will tell you whether it’s a CD or a DVD drive.

CD will look something like this.

DVD will look something like this or this.

Aha! It has the “Compact Disc” logo. Thanks for all the help.

If you’re otherwise happy with your present computer, you can get an upgrade; that is, you can get a DVD-ROM drive to either replace or supplement your current drive. (Depending on your type of computer and what its features are, there may be a vacant space where an additional drive could be installed.) I’ve seen DVD-ROM drives starting below $40.

Will the OPer need software too? Do drives usually come with the software to play DVDs? I thought I read somewhere (likely here) that Windows Media Player alone will not view DVDs, you have to install other software and then WMP can use the driver from the 2nd software to play DVDs.

It’s not actually a driver. I believe that its an mpeg-2 decoder. DVD streams are in mpeg-2 format, and AFAIK this can’t be played by Windows Media Player alone. Third-party DVD players like PowerDVD have the decoder, and i think that most DVD drives comes with some sort of playing software included.