PowerDVD 6 Deluxe

Reviewed by: Lianne Reitter, August 2005
Published by: CyberLink
Requires: Windows 98SE to XP, Pentium III 500M Hz, DVD drive, 128MB RAM, 60MB free hard drive space
MSRP: US$39.95

There was a time, not so long ago, when I asked the question, “What the heck would I want with a DVD player on my computer?” I just couldn't imagine my computer chair being the most comfortable place in my house to watch a movie. Well, maybe it’s the because-I-can syndrome, but I find myself breaking from a weekend’s work every now and again and popping in a recently purchased DVD for a bit of entertainment. So, that being established—that I don't work as hard as I make it look when I'm at the computer, and that I watch the occasional DVD on my computer—it’s important that I also have a really good piece of software with which to view my DVDs. CyberLink’s PowerDVD 6 Deluxe is an excellent choice.

PowerDVD 6 Deluxe’s interface is just about what we've come to expect in this sort of software—form follows function. There's a viewing screen and a control panel much like any hardware remote control device for your television, with buttons for Play, Pause, Stop, Next & Previous Chapter and Next & Previous Frame. In addition, there's an inner dial which you can use to fast forward or reverse at 0.5x, 0.75x, 1x, 1.5x, 2x, 3x, 4x, 8x, 16x and 32x speeds. You can even hear the audio during the 0.5x-2.0x speeds, so catching up on something you missed is even easier.

PowerDVD 6 has a number of new features on the main control panel that you are going to have some fun with. For example, you can switch language streams on the fly with one click. Now at first thought, switching from the English stream to the French or Spanish stream may not sound like a video-enhancing experience, but most DVD’s also include streams of commentary from either the director or the actors. It can be very entertaining to flip back and forth at any time (especially in movies like Primer, which, while being excellent films, some people feel should also be supplied with a play-by-play).

Other readily available features on the main control panel include volume adjustment, full screen viewing, access to the configuration options and most interestingly, a capture frame button. Right click on the capture button and the options menu will pop up giving you the opportunity to save the capture to the clipboard as a BMP file or directly as Windows wallpaper. Endless opportunities for new wallpaper abound! Save your capture in the original video resolution, the current viewing size or to a more desirable size using the custom size menu option.

The range and breadth of functions in PowerDVD 6 goes on and on. A menu/number pad that extends from the Main Control panel gives you instant access to DVD menu navigation buttons, a disk eject button, one that also gives you access to any additional viewing angles the DVD has to offer, a numerical pad, a repeat and shuffle button (handy when listening to audio and music CDs), access to computer generated visualizations and bookmarking features. You read that right—bookmarking. Got a favorite scene? Maybe some favorite Brad Pitt or Halle Berry movie moment that you want to relive again and again? No problem. Click on the Add Bookmark button at the appropriate time and then hit the Go to Bookmark button as often as you like.

A Karaoke button allows you to change the pitch of your DVD so you can sing along to your favorite song in just the right key without changing the speed of the music. It’s also a pretty fun thing to play around with while watching a normal DVD if you like listening to your favorite movie star do his best impression of Alvin the Chipmunk (but I digress).

You can always right click on the viewing screen to access a full menu set and in full screen mode you also have access to video zoom features. The zoom feature is for those of us who don't want the black bars across the top and bottom of the monitor when we watch wide screen DVDs. Yes, it crops the right and left hand sides of the video too, but the action usually takes place in the center anyway, and you can always click on the viewing area and drag it back and forth to pick up on anything you want. It’s a handy feature when you are trying to win a movie trivia bet and you need to get really close up on the area in question.

I know what you're thinking. Store bought DVDs are not the only ones in your arsenal of DVD entertainment. I won't ask where you get the other ones. Suffice it to say that PowerDVD 6 Deluxe supports DivX, MPEG2, DVD+R/-R, DVD-Audio, VCD (MPEG-1), SVCD, MiniDVD formats and DVD files on your hard drive. PowerDVD 6 Deluxe performed equally well with all the formats tested, including the DivX files.

Depending on your video card you can even set up PowerDVD 6 Deluxe to view your DVDs on two displays—computer and TV. You can adjust the sound quality depending on your environment, speaker or headphone set up.

For those parents concerned with the kiddies getting a hold of DVDs that were not produced with them in mind, PowerDVD 6's parental control area has settings for user permissions and ratings settings that you can assign to each DVD in your collection. It means some forethought on your part is necessary and passwords are involved, but considering the alternative, it’s a worthwhile effort.

PowerDVD 6 Deluxe is an excellent DVD viewing product with a huge array of well-integrated features and functions that provide a completely customizable entertainment experience. Highly recommended.

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