That we're now into the seventh incarnation of CyberLink's popular PowerDVD program is proof that not all software DVD players are created equal. But why would you want to spend £40 upgrading to PowerDVD 7.0 when most PCs already come with software that's perfectly well suited to the task of playing movies?
Well, new network features make it easy to take a movie stored on one computer and watch it on another, while the front end is more versatile than ever before. You can save space by switching into the Control Wheel mode. This is an effective and discreet method of watching a movie, and it conserves battery power on laptops.
The Read-It-Clearly feature ensures that subtitles on widescreen films are superimposed over the black spaces at the top and bottom, rather than obscuring the video itself, and you can have two subtitle languages on screen at the same time. Pano Vision can convert widescreen video to full-screen 4:3 and vice versa. It does this job well – these types of technology tend to make the final picture look distorted.
The quality of playback in PowerDVD 7.0 is extremely good. You can switch on such features as Clev-2, CyberLink's Eagle Vision 2 technology, which brightens up the picture and makes the colours look more natural. We found this weakened the focus and cut out some detail, but if you need to highlight a particular sequence, it works well. The audio features are impressive, allowing you to improve volume by altering the dynamic range.