After the tests I got to play with Cyberlink PowerDVD HD myself. As well as having to deal the decryption keys the Cyberlink software also offers up all the new wizz bang features that HD DVD has to offer. One of the key features is that due to the far greater data rates available from HD DVD â€“ and from Blu-ray when it decides to make an appearance, you can have multiple data streams at once. This means that the disc menu can be brought up while the film is actually playing.
You can navigate the disc and choose chapters and all the extra features much more easily than with a DVD, where you have to go out of the film to get to the menu.
Itâ€™s not just the menu however â€“ you could have a completely separate video stream appear over the top. The most obvious scenario would be a commentary that you can view as the movie is playing. This would make it more likely that people will actually look at the extras, which on DVD are often never watched. On the disc I tested this was merely a mini box â€“ like a picture-in-picture function. However, with some neat alpha blending this could easily be just the figures with no frame, which would look much cooler.
Inevitably there were various issues such as error messages and crashes but this is early software and hopefully it will all be sorted out when by the time it ships. Overall, I came away impressed and my enthusiasm for the next generation formats, be it HD DVD or Blu-ray has been rekindled. I can clearly recall being amazed at watching high quality full screen video on a PC with the first DVD acceleration kit from Creative. Now weâ€™re at that early, tentative stage again with the successor to DVD and itâ€™s exciting.
Congratulations should go to nVidia and Cyberlink for finally getting HDCP complaint hardware and software ready and I look forward to us being able to take all of their hard work for granted as this technology becomes as commonplace in PCs as DVD is today.