PowerDVD 9 Ultra
The latest Ultra version of CyberLink PowerDVD 9 expands its Blu-ray hi-def decoding capabilities, and adds picture processing for standard DVD video too
- Basic playback of discs worked well
- TrueTheater Technology often showed up unwanted artefacts, annoying online activation system, problems with HDCP
We were impressed by the potential capabilities of PowerDVD 9 — and equally irritated by annoying features and bugs that spoilt our ability to get on and enjoy the discs it was supposed to simply play. For simple playback of DVDs, the free VLC program is more versatile, but if you want to play Blu-ray films on your Windows PC, PowerDVD 9 is one of only a few solutions available.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
In PowerDVD, CyberLink already has one of the most popular playback solutions for DVD and Blu-ray on Windows PCs. With its new version 9 Ultra, CyberLink introduces several new features, including TrueTheatre video enhancement, support for HDMI 1.3, different playback screen modes, FancyView graphical browsing, and support for more high-definition video and audio formats.
Meanwhile there are two versions of CyberLink PowerDVD 9 offered without Blu-ray compatibility — for those who have no need to pay expensive levies to the Blu-ray Disc License Office — namely PowerDVD 9 Standard and PowerDVD 9 Deluxe.
TrueTheater Technology, found on all versions of CyberLink PowerDVD 9, is designed to improve picture quality of standard-definition video such as that from DVD. You can also use invoke TTT to create a pseudo-surround effect from stereo audio.
A split-screen view mode in CyberLink PowerDVD 9 lets you easily see the difference between normal and processed picture, and sure enough, the image looks brighter and sharper — but we found this often showed up more unwanted artefacts, in particular interlaced-video lines that were not entirely cleaned up by the deinterlacing process.
While you can tweak the strength of these TTT effects with Sharpness and Brightness manual override sliders, it's difficult to switch off TrueTheater Technology entirely until you dig into the program's Settings and manually de-check various boxes. Or you can elect there to use hardware acceleration of video, in which case all of CyberLink's proprietary digital signal processing (DSP) will be switched off, as direct graphics card decoding does not allow post-processing.
CyberLink PowerDVD 9 is said to be approved for use with Windows 7, although with our Windows 7 Release Candidate installation at least, we encountered problems with an anonymous background process crashing whenever a disc started to play. The program continued to run, however, after clicking through an Ignore warning palette a few times.
CyberLink tells us that Microsoft's approval was granted to a later, near-final, build of Windows 7, so this issue ought not be a problem when used with the new Windows OS when it's officially launched in a few months.
We initially had difficulty testing the Blu-ray functionality of CyberLink PowerDVD 9, as the latest build of the software refused to run thanks to the program's annoying online activation system. After entering the program's unlock serial code, it then attempts to connect to a CyberLink server to ‘authorise' the installation. When it repeatedly failed to connect, we were left without a working copy of the program.
The online activation system, we've been told, only applies to the direct download versions of the software sold through the CyberLink website, although no reason for our hopefully isolated mishap was found. A retail disc later provided a reduced hassle installation.
CyberLink kowtows to the film industry's insistence on ‘locking down' media, so beware that CyberLink PowerDVD 9 will not let Blu-ray discs be viewed on two screens at once in mirror mode, and nor can you play high-definition video on a screen unless that display has been deemed 'secure' by Intel's high-bandwith digital content protection (HDCP) approval system.
More worrying, our setup refused to play a Blu-ray film after our screen was incorrectly identified by CyberLink PowerDVD 9 as not being HDCP-approved. Installing CyberLink PowerDVD 9 onto a different PC allowed the film to play on the same screen.
Anyone used to connecting modern Blu-ray players to projectors and displays may be familiar with the pain of random roadblocks caused by a failure to digitally ‘handshake' with this obstructive DRM scheme.
Screengrabs of still images from films, while possible when playing DVD, are denied if you try doing the same with a Blu-ray film running.
Basic playback of discs worked well, with the multi-speed fast-forward/rewind controls responsive to requests. By clicking these controls you can cycle through various speeds, and sped-up audio is also included when scanning up to 2x speed.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Acer Swift 7
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® Portable SSD
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Google Daydream VR headset
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Surface Pro 4
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 5 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
Latest News Articles
- Village Roadshow aims to block 40 pirate sites
- Analysts peer into Microsoft's rumored Windows 10 Cloud
- Google lets users get social with Maps
- Microsoft unveils a bonanza of security capabilities
- Google might be gearing up to remove millions of Play Store apps next month
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- Time to ditch Foxtel and the iQ3: How to replace Foxtel packages with cheaper alternatives
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSecurity Solutions Architect - Consultancy - Permanent - Sydney CBDNSW
- CCProject ManagerSA
- CCCA ITCM / ITCA EngineerNSW
- TPProject Manager to manage two concurrent ProjectsQLD
- FTERP ConsultantQLD
- CCSystems Engineer (Systems Architect/Designer)VIC
- CCProject Manager - Telco Networks EngineeringVIC
- TPDigital Strategist - Newcastle BasedNSW
- FTSalesforce AdministratorQLD
- CCProject Manager - Adelaide basedNSW
- TPTechnical Support Resource-Skype for BusinessVIC
- CCCommercial Contract AdministratorNSW
- FTSenior Solution ArchitectSA
- FTSenior Network AdministratorNSW
- TPAgile Business AnalystQLD
- FTSalesforce Technical Consultant/Architect Global IT Company - SydneyNSW
- CCMDM Consultant/DesignerVIC
- FTData AnalystQLD
- CCUser Experience Designer - Part time - Short contractACT
- CCIT Procurement OfficerNSW
- TPMid-Level Java DeveloperNSW
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Manufacturing and Trade & Logistics Modules)VIC
- CCSolution Architect - Financial applicationsVIC
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Sales & Marketing Modules)VIC
- TPMicrosoft Analyst ProgrammerSA