Software Review Of The Moment

PowerDVD 6

25th Of July, 2018

The No. 1 DVD Experience On The PC, it claims. I have a tendency to think it’s true, as this would be my favourite DVD player on any OS that I have. This program came with the DVD drive, I think, of my main PC with the AMD Athlon 3800+ CPU. It’s probably considered pretty old, since that was at the end of 2006, but I wouldn’t use anything else. Apple’s DVD player in Mac OS X doesn’t really compare either.
The main interface consists of 2 windows, which you can see below.

The main video window.
The “remote” control.

The controller actually has 4 “skins” that you can use to change its look. This is the one I started with, and I’m used to it. On the left of the controller, you can change audio modes, sound categories (like preset audio equaliser settings), and video colour adjustments, which you can make your own of. Clicking on the gradient blue progress bar will skip to a certain percentage of the show you’re watching, which is much quicker than a DVD player you’d plug into your TV. At least the ones I’ve seen. (If it shows up as orangey-yellow, you can’t skip through something.) The central part works like the shuttle control on an up-market VCR, and you can simply click to set the speed of the playback — even in reverse, but it’s never quite as smooth. There’s also a screen shot button, but I prefer to press C on the keyboard. Unlike Apple’s player which doesn’t allow this, PowerDVD usually has no issues with pumping out screen shots whenever you need one. It does have a tendency to blend frames together on interlaced video though. So it’s a good idea to disable de-interlacing if you need a decent screen shot for a box cover or something.
Another feature which makes this an absolute delight, is the ability to just right click on the video window and choose a new chapter on a DVD. This pop up menu also lets you choose to keep the aspect ratio, menu selections, subtitles etc.

• With a simple right click, you can quickly change settings and jump to other parts of the DVD. Bookmarks are a God-send as well, with you being able to store your favourite parts of a show, and then jump back to them later.
This feature is excellent as well, as you might have to stop a show for dinner, going out or sleeping. Plus you can always stop a DVD at its menu, which means it will go straight back there next time, allowing you to skip all the B.S. about copyright messages, and other junk.

You’re not only limited to actual DVDs either. The player will handle files from other drives representing DVDs too, and a few other formats. You can choose from a drop down menu on the controller what source you want to play. It doesn’t remember stop points though on DVD representations on your hard drive however.

Here you can choose the de-interlacing method. Depending on your video card, the quality of the de-interlacing may vary. My nVidia GeForce 7600 GT did a really good job of it, where-as my ATi Radeon 9550 kinda sucks really. If you disable hardware acceleration, and depend solely on your CPU, it will give the best de-interlacing possible. (You will want like 2.4 GHz + in my opinion.) It is WAAY better than Apple’s DVD player too, which sometimes doesn’t de-interlace at all even on the best setting. These settings will usually give a sublime full 50 f.p.s. smoothness.
You can change the OSD colour and font, screen shot sizes, where the pictures go, what the mouse wheel does, importing and exporting of bookmarks, plus if the toolbar is visible.

The player has a full screen mode toolbar, which appears at the very top of the screen if you put your mouse up there. I don’t really use it though. A single click on the video window usually brings up the controller anyhow, if you need to quickly do something.
Unlike VLC, it doesn’t stutter every time you pause, and it doesn’t skip video if your DVD drive has gone to “sleep”. (Pausing can be done with the space bar.)
Taking a screen shot will only capture subtitles if you’re not using hardware acceleration. The same applies to using the CLEV-2 video colour enhancement feature. This has a split vision mode too, which lets you compare the colours of the original video to the “enhanced” rendition.
The player comes with a system diagnostic tool as well, which lets you test your hardware if you’re having some kind of strange issue.
You can play up to 2 × speed with audio, but faster than that, and it goes silent. Changing the audio pitch can also have amusing results. Yes, the player will let you do that too! It’s related to karaoke discs, but you can use it on anything. You’ll also find an A to B repeat feature, which just plays one part over and over again.
Maximising the window will first put the window into “double” size if your monitor is capable of fitting the DVD resolution at twice the size. (Although really it’s 4 × the amount of pixels, since you’re doubling both dimensions.) Then when you click the button again, it will go to proper full screen mode.
The overlay colour it seems to use is R: 16, G: 0, B: 16, so if you set that colour in another program that goes over the top of it, the video will show through where that colour is present.
All in all, I would certainly recommend this player, if you can still find it. It is a commercial program, so you’ll have to pay for it, and there’s a special key code you need when installing it too. My version is like a sub-full version, which can be upgraded if you wish. Probably because it came bundled with a piece of hardware. So I think it’s limited to just stereo sound output. Not that I have any surround sound stuff anyhow.