NEW YORK —
CyberLink recently introduced PowerDVD 12 Ultra, which stretches the bounds of the simple DVD playback tool it was originally developed to be, into a full multimedia suite that gathers music, photos and video files stored on multiple devices for playback on one central PC.
The software maker has also ventured into the mobile electronics world by offering apps that allow sharing all of this disparate content on an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet.
CyberLink makes its PowerDVD Mobile v.4 app for Ultra available free to Ultra purchasers to stream content from the PC to handheld devices.
PowerDVD 12 Ultra has extensive new file format support (about 50 in all), including MKV video and even RAW photo files. For music, the software now supports lossless audio formats such as OGG and FLAC files.
An Instant Seek feature, which allows users to quickly browse and find specific scenes within a movie, now works on Blu-ray discs.
A new Zoom button allows viewers to quickly zoom in up to 400 percent on any video. This is assisted by showing a thumbnail view of the screen indicating the area of the frame being viewed in blow up.
Despite all the extras, probably the No. 1 use for many looking to purchase this program is playing back Blu-ray Discs on a PC or media center.
This version of the software includes CyberLink’s Truetheatre video-processing system, which is easy to use and offers an automatic mode that sharpens the image quality and reduces image compression artifacts in streamed media or low-res files, with little required of the user.
TrueTheatre also adds support for DTS-HD 7.1 soundtracks and conversion of 2D video material into 3D for playback on suitable 3D monitors and PC systems. Not having access to a 3D monitor for this review, we’ll have to take their word for it.
The menu interface is clean and also intuitively easy to use and navigate. Its chief function is to aggregate content from local storage, attached devices, UPnP/DLNA servers, and even online media-storage sites, such as Facebook, You- Tube and Flickr.
This makes it easy to find a long forgotten song you might suddenly have pop into your head, for example, no matter where it may be stored in the home, providing it was ripped or downloaded somewhere to the home viewer’s network and properly organized for so it can be found by the software.
The system also provides some clever shortcuts, such as popping up a scroll bar after placing the cursor over a folder of photos or videos to quickly display thumbnails of contents without the need to open it.
When it comes to mobile devices, the PowerDVD 12 Ultra can find and stream any non-DRM protected file to an Android phone or tablet. A new Sync feature allows setting the software to sync favorite music, photos and videos with Android mobile devices connected by USB.
PowerDVD automatically recognizes the device, selects the right codec and adjusts the playback for optimal resolution on the connected screen.
PowerDVD 12 Ultra is now available for a $100 suggested retail. Scaled-down versions — PowerDVD 12 Pro ($80) and PowerDVD 12 Standard ($50) — are also available. Current PowerDVD users can also upgrade from previous versions for prices starting at $45.
Another free app for PowerDVD 12 Ultra users is PowerDVD Remote, which provides remote control operation from a smartphone or tabet of Blu-ray Discs, DVDs and high-definition videos as well as the music and photo playback features in PowerDVD.