So far there have been very few compelling reasons to put a DVD player into a computer. There’s only three things you might do with it:

You can watch movies. Your computer monitor will display the movie at a higher resolution than your television, but most people just don’t feel right sitting at their computer watching a movie. (I do it all the time, but I’m like that.)

You can look at the bonus computer features that are included on a handful of movie DVDs. So far that content has been utterly uncompelling – a few bad games or a screensaver, only accessible if you install buggy software from the DVD.

The theory was that you would be able to find software that would take advantage of the extra space on a DVD to deliver richer content. It hasn’t happened, and no software manufacturer has any plans to make it happen that I know of.

But if you do have a DVD player on your system – it’s included with some of the home systems – there’s one purchase that’s worthwhile. Microsoft Encarta 2002 can be purchased on a single DVD, instead of five CDs. Encarta is a fabulous encyclopedia, stuffed with multimedia content, but it has always been hampered by the disk-swapping required to go from item to item. It’s much more appealing on a single disk. If you can’t find the DVD version at a local store, click above to order it from Amazon.