CyberLink’s PowerDVD has long been a favourite of home theatre PC users starting back in the Windows XP days there you needed to buy 3rd party DVD software as the features where missing from Windows. During the Vista and Windows 7 days Windows included DVD playback but with the rise of Bluray you still needed extra software and now with Windows 8 not having either DVD or Bluray playback again you are going to need extra software.
PowerDVD is now up to version 13 and it has grown to be much more than a DVD Player. There are DVD and Bluray playback features, DLNA client and server and mobile apps making up the package. There are also lots of upscaling options, not just upscaling DVD playback to 1080p but taking it a step further and upscaling Blueray to 2560×1440 resolution. PowerDVD also will convert 2D content into 3D which I gave a test and while it does give you a 3D effect on your 3D TV it is no match for having true 3D content. It will try and workout the best way to render 3D on your display, I found than I cound’t use HDMI 1.4 mode on my PC as the video card wouldn’t support it so it will try some of the other options like side by side or checkerboard setups. So if you are going to try and use it for 3D I would check your graphics card version first.
While there is no integration with Windows Media Center there is a Cinema Mode which is designed for using on a home theatre display with a remote control, with a remote it works fine and does work better at 10 foot.
Cyberlink have TrueTheater enhancements in PowerDVD which enhance the colour, sharpness and smooth the playback motion. To use it you have to switch off Hardware acceleration it so you need a descent processor and graphics combination for it to work. On my old Core 2 duo I had to leave hardware acceleration on.
BluRay start-up time was less than a minute from inserting the disk to starting playback, it bypasses the interactive BD-Live features so speed up launching of a disk. I found it much quicker than the previous editions and as you would expect it plays Bluray movies just fine.
DLNA and File Playback
As well as playing DVDs and Blurays PowerDVD will also play media files stored on the local machine, network, DLNA or via the Internet. It will play AVCHD 2, lossess APE audio, 4K video and MKV files. Metadata comes from MoovieLive.com and will bring down cover art, plot info and cast data which does add a
There are also mobile versions of PowerDVD that is free with the Ultra versions of PowerDVD. There are Android, iOS and Windows 8/RT versions of the apps which are very useful. The Windows RT version of the app is very flexible and can play MKV files something that Windows RT can’t do (see my review of the app here)
PowerDVD 13 Pro costs £ 59.99 and Ultra which has 7.1 audio and 3D playback amongst other extras (see CyberLinks’s site for the details). For a HTPC PowerDVD 13 is a good choice for adding Bluray playback plus you also get the DLNA and network playback features. If you are planning to use it for 3D playback make sure the combination of graphics card and TV will work.
I have been using PowerDVD 12 for a while and this is a nice upgrade to the package, as I said above I only had limited success with 3D titles but that is down to my graphics card and overall I really like the program.