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Cyberlink Power DVD 9 Ultra - Cyberlink Power DVD 9 Ultra

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Having been pleased the DVD playback our experiences with Blu-ray playback were equally positive. We didn't encounter any performance issues and among the number of Blu-ray discs we tested, no compatibility issues either. Hardware acceleration is completely supported, as you would expect, but beyond this Power DVD 9 wisely doesn't interfere with processing unduly, producing the sharp, well-defined images that we all associate with Blu-ray. We'd wager a proper hardware player will always deliver better overall image quality, but only the exceedingly picky will find fault with Power DVD 9's output.

While we've spent a fair amount of time looking into the basic performance of Power DVD 9, Cyberlink has also implemented a number of user interface (UI) enhancements, too. This includes a rather nifty animated DVD browsing system with a rather idiosyncratic title: 'FancyView'. This leans heavily on inspiration taken from Apple and its Cover Flow interface, but here it's applied to navigating the chapters from DVDs. It's a really neat implementation and is certainly preferable to using the menus in DVDs, which can often be very clunky, though this feature doesn't work for Blu-ray discs due to the different system they use.

Of more interest to HTPC users, though, will be the new Cinema mode. Like the MCE integrated element this is designed to be used with a remote from a distance, utilising the red, green, yellow and blue context sensitive buttons found on most remotes to good effect. Other useful elements include Cyberlink's Moovie Live online companion service and the linked movie collection interface. When connected to the Internet, info on what you're watching, including user ratings, cover art and other trivia (cast, director, tag lines etc.) is fetched. You can then choose to add the film to your collection, adding tags should you so wish, and sync this with your online profile.

All of this is interesting and useful for those that care, but not everyone wants such integration. As such it would have been nice to have to had the option to turn this feature off, especially since it can be a little intrusive at times. A connected feature is the Movie Remix mode, where you can play around with scene ordering to create your own "remix" of a film, but this is something few will want to pay attention to: it's pure gimmickry.

Our only other concern regarding Power DVD 9 is the pricing. While it's easy to understand the cost of the Ultra version due to the number of licenses, if you do want Blu-ray playback this is your only option since the £30 Deluxe version doesn't support Blu-ray. A stripped down Blu-ray version, sans HDMI 1.3 support and some of the more advanced codecs, would make a lot of sense for those that just want to watch a Blu-ray disc every now and again.

Verdict

Power DVD 9 Ultra brings with it plenty of enhancements that regular PC users and HTPC users will appreciate. Its excellent Media Center integration is a particular boon and though some elements of the TrueTheatre DVD video processing engine could be deemed superfluous, the upscaling element is outstanding, breathing new life into DVDs and arguably justifying the outlay alone.

Hamish Campbell

March 21, 2009, 11:05 am

DVD playback native to windows? Not XP right?





gotta love that Linda Hamilton lions mane hairdo.

pmcfadden

March 21, 2009, 3:20 pm

Dont suppose it lets you screengrab a blu ray? Been searching for a way to do this for ages, but its proven impossible.

alchobot

March 21, 2009, 3:48 pm

I'm a long time user of pdvd5 and I'm still impressed with it, it really shows up the low resolution of syandard dvd's on a large computer monitor. I presume this version stil has features like dolby headphone & cyberlink eagle vision. having recently purchased a laptop with a blu-ray player I will probably buy this software as again I repeat how impressed i have been with pdvd5.

alchobot

March 21, 2009, 3:58 pm

after visiting cyberlink web site I won't be purchasing this after all as I'm quite disgruntled about £/$ pricing. pdvd9 ultra, needed for blu-ray playback, is 㿻.99 but dollar price is $99.95. at the current exchange rate we are paying $115.90, I haven't got 'mug' written on my forehead. no wonder piracy is so popular.

Luan Bach

March 21, 2009, 4:56 pm

@alchobot, as usual you've forgotten to add the 15% VAT to the US$ price, which would makes it, wait for it...$115.

imilne

March 21, 2009, 5:54 pm

@pmcfadden - you'll need to rip the disc first (using something like AnyDVD HD), then play back the files in MPC that'll let you take screen grabs. You can also convert to .mkv using MakeMKV if that helps too.

Chocoa

March 21, 2009, 6:41 pm

As some one who stupidly bought a previous incarnation of PowerDVD. All I can say is that open source software is far more useful. The continuing need of commercial software to go bloatware is astounding; profit, self justification and the latest interface design being a small part of it.





Let me elaborate: I can play 1080p, ex BluRay material on an aged Athlon64 3200+/Ati AGP card of mine using carefully chosen O/source software with little issue. With PowerDVD? - forget it!





In addition there is no support for MKV - an increasingly recognised container of back up copies of HD movies





㿼 for movie software - for-get-it!!

lifethroughalens

March 21, 2009, 9:25 pm

@Chocoa





I couldn't agree more. 㿼 for unessential bloatware is crazy. I wouldn't buy Power DVD even if it was free!

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