Software Blu-ray / DVD players are bundled with almost all OEM PCs and a necessity for consumers who want to enjoy their commercial optical media in the most legal manner possible. At AnandTech, we have reviewed HTPCs from Dell and ASRock with CyberLink PowerDVD bundled. However, the bundled versions often skimp on number of audio channels which can be decoded and other such aspects to lower licensing costs. Because of this,  most consumers end up upgrading their software or using offerings from other vendors in this space.

In our reviews, we have used offerings from all the three major vendors: ArcSoft (Total Media Theatre), Corel (WinDVD Pro) and Cyberlink (PowerDVD). Each of them has its own pros and cons. While WinDVD Pro is the leanest and most responsive of the lot, it is also pretty barebones. Total Media Theatre, on the other hand, has a very good user interface and integrates services like YouTube in a seamless and enjoyable manner. PowerDVD has historically been a leader in the features department, but the user interface and bloat used to be a turn off for most users.


Today, CyberLink is launching PowerDVD 12 along with an updated Android / iOS app, PowerDVD Mobile v4. The Blu-ray folks haven’t added any new features to the Blu-ray discs since the introduction of the Profile 5.0 MVC-encoded 3D titles. PowerDVD 11, launched last April, came with full spport for these Blu-rays. With nothing new to support on the Blu-ray side (except CyberLink's own efforts to present 2D Blu-ray titles in 3D), CyberLink shifted attention to focus on the mobile apps. In the meantime, they also began to work on streamlining the user experience on the PC. We got ample time to play with the new software and apps ahead of the launch, and we are well positioned to review the products in detail.

PowerDVD 12 consists of three components, and comes in three different versions:

  Ultra Pro Standard
PowerDVD 12 $99.95 $79.95 $49.95
PowerDVD Remote v2 Free $4.99 $4.99
PowerDVD Mobile v4 Free $19.99 $19.99

The following list summarizes the differences between the various versions. This may help the reader in choosing the version best suited for one’s needs.

  1. Blu-ray playback support is available only in the Ultra and Pro versions. The Standard version can play back DVDs only.
  2. 3D and True Theater 3D effects are not available for DVDs / video / photo files and YouTube titles in the Standard version.
  3. Import of 3D photos and videos into a media library is not available in the Standard version.
  4. Upload of 3D videos and TrueTheater enabled 3D videos to YouTube is not available in the Standard version.
  5. The Sync-2-Android feature for Android devices connected over USB is not available in the Standard version.
  6. DLNA features:
    1. The Standard version can’t act as a Digital Media Server (DMS) with transcoding capabilities.
    2. While all three versions can act as a Digital Media Player (DMP), only the Ultra version can act as a Digital Media Controller (DMC), Digital Media Renderer (DMR) and has DLNA DTCP-IP DRM support.
  7. 3D UI in Cinema Mode is not available in the Standard version.
  8. Audio Processing:
    1. There is no support for Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Virtual Speaker, Dolby Headphone and Dolby Digital EX in the Standard version
    2. The Ultra version supports up to 7.1 channels of Dolby Digital Plus, but the Standard and Pro versions support only up to 5.1 channels.
    3. There is no support for Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD in the Standard and Pro versions
    4. There is no support for DTS-ES (Discrete & Matrix) + Neo:6 / MLP-HD in any of the three versions.
    5. The Ultra and Pro versions support up to 5.1 channels of AAC audio, but the Standard version supports only 2 channels.
    6. S/PDIF Remix feature is supported only in the Ultra version
  9. Disc and File Format Support:
    1. VC-1 support is available only in the Ultra version
    2. DivX Pro and CPRM support are not available in the Standard version
    3. MK3D is not supported in the Standard version

The following tables summarize our testbed setup:

 

HTPC Configuration
Model ASRock Vision 3D 252B
Processor Core i5-2520M
GPU GeForce GT540M
Memory 8 GB RAM + 750 GB 7200 rpm HDD
ODD Lite-On DL-4ETS QAB1 BD-ROM / DVDRW Combo
Operating System Windows 7 Ultimate x64
A/V Receiver Pioneer Elite VSX-32
Display Sony KDL46EX720 3D TV
.

 

 

Mobile Device 1
Model T-Mobile G2 (HTC Vision)
SoC Qualcomm MSM7230 (Adreno 205)
OS Android 2.3.3 [CyanogenMod 7]
.

 

 

Mobile Device 2
Model Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi 32GB
SoC NVIDIA Tegra 2
OS Android 4.0.3 [Stock]
.

 

In the rest of the review, we will take a look at the installation process and the user interface. We will analyze the container and codec support in detail and talk a little about the supported online services. Following this, we will explore the various features of the PowerDVD Mobile v4 Android app. Finally, we will take a look at what Cyberlink can do to make their offerings even more attractive.

 

Setup and User Interface
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  • ganeshts - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    I am not going to disagree with this, but I did mention in the preamble to the piece that we are looking at avenues to enjoy commercial optical discs in the most legal manner possible. Usage of AnyDVD HD is very much in the grey area since it circumvents copy protection technologies (not that I agree with the law here, but we have to make do with whatever the politicians are putting out thanks to the bribes they get from the content owners (MAFIAA)) Reply
  • Golgatha - Thursday, February 02, 2012 - link

    I wonder if decrypting on the fly is really against the DMCA. You're not making a copy and the encryption isn't being removed...it's still on the disc ;-). Reply
  • Etern205 - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    The Ultra comes with the extra 2 features bundles while Pro and Standard makes you pay extra?
    I don't see the point of getting pro or standard cause by getting Pro you actually pay more than the ultra and standard is useless since you can't play Blu-Ray.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Well, not every customer wants a mobile app or mobile remote.. So, in that sense, the pricing strategy does seem OK..

    I agree that Pro is not a good choice if you want to play Blu-rays. I believe that tier was created for OEMs to snag (It is probably the version bundled with all the PCs having a Blu-ray drive)
    Reply
  • erikstarcher - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Nice review. Now can we get one on TMT5 and WinDVD please? Reply
  • CharonPDX - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Yes, I know... But I have a combo HD-DVD/Blu-ray drive, and I still own a few movies on HD-DVD only. I know the older versions, that were current when HD-DVD was current, can play them, but have the newer versions kept that? Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    I know for a fact they removed HD-DVD support at some point for no apparent reason. I very, very much doubt they re-added it. Reply
  • shriganesh - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    Hi Ganesh!
    I am also Ganesh ;) Your reviews are detailed and very good esp regarding the CPUs used in devices and their architectures!
    You have Engal Anna dvdrip! Are you Vijayganth fan??? ROFL!!
    Reply
  • Ph0b0s - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    Finally it looks like PowerDVD can decode DTS-HD MA 7.1 for those of us with 8 channel PAP sound cards. Up until now it could only manage 5.1. This is good news and a big feature inclusion, shame it was not tested... The only thing missing I would like to see them do is Truetheater HD motion for Blu-ray movies, so Blu-rays can appear to be more than 24 fps, with in between frames inserted. Maybe next release. Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    Yes, DTS-HD MA 7.1 decode is fully supported and confirmed to be working. Reply

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