PowerDVD is a powerful and comprehensive media player capable of handling a wide variety of content from DVDs and Blu-ray to music and movie files. With PowerDVD 13, CyberLink has added support for a wider range of files formats and, so it says, worked hard to simplify the user interface, add cover art options and even introduce enhanced quality options for HD footage, but can the media player live up to expectations?
CyberLink PowerDVD 13 copes easily with any files we fired at it, from MOV, MPG, AVI, DIV, MP4 to the more obscure. In fact, often PowerDVD 13 actually processes files better than VLC Media Player, which would either not open the files or play them without video or sound. PowerDVD, on the other, never let us down.
Upon installation, PowerDVD scans your PC for relevant media files and it does so quickly and efficiently. All our media content including home videos, movies, photos and music appeared in the media library, sorted into their relevant categories.
With video content, PowerDVD 13 now features what it is calling TrueTheater technology, which CyberLink claims to deliver 'quality beyond HD' by enhancing the sharpness, colour and lighting of already high-definition content.
We found that with a powerful enough PC – Mac's aren't supported – TrueTheater delivers great results. It is especially noticeable when viewing the content in a dual-screen window, which is accessible via the TrueTheater settings playback menu bar at the bottom of the screen. Even Blu-ray discs are visibly improved; the colours pop and the detailing of the scenery and the characters are vastly superior to the original content.
Audio enhancements are also included, particularly useful for the .APE format newly supported with PowerDVD 13. For music playing too, the standard user interface window can be collapsed to a mini player that floats around the desktop, perfect for listening to music whilst completing other tasks. However, the music section of the Power DVD 13 software is meant to automatically pick up music cover art, using it for the mini player, but the software only managed to sporadically pick up any of mine, so users would have to go through the laborious task of reallocating if they so felt the need.
The new features offered by PowerDVD 13 build upon an already fully functioning media player that provides 2D to 3D upscaling and 3D content support, the ability of viewing 2K and 4K video footage, full 7.1 surround sound audio compatibility and social media functionality.
PowerDVD 13 features a newly improved user interface that makes accessing all the various media quicker and adjusting the setting more intuitive.
The software is smarter too, rotating images and videos to the correct orientation where appropriate and automatically resumes file-based movies and videos from where they were stopped. However, the latter is possible providing you press Stop rather than Pause, as if you click back when the movie is paused, it will start from the beginning.
Playback options have been improved, adding more in-depth controls for you to use when watching your various content. The Play Speed navigator pops up when pressing fast-forward or rewind and lets you control the speed of the playback. Fast-forward speeds can reach x32 and rewind can go up to x16. Using the left and right keys will allow you to jump back 8 or skip forward 30 seconds respectively. Similar to YouTube, PowerDVD 13 also allows you to jump to a specific part of the video content by hovering over the navigational bar to review thumbnails of the movie moments and click them to jump to that particular section.
CyberLink has also added new customisation options that make it possible to design the UI exactly how you want it. You can assign playback hotkeys and mouse wheel scrolls to the tasks that you want to use them for to ensure you get the best user experience out of the pricey software.