Provided By: Cyberlink
No compensation was received for review of this product.
Price: $99.95 (Ultra), $79.95 (Pro), $49.95 (Standard)
While PowerDVD12 Ultra may not be a ground breaking leap forward for a media player, Cyberlink has done well in integrating several useful features in a single package. The changes, although incremental, show that Cyberlink understands where the future of home media consumption is headed. With the proliferation of iOS and Android based devices, PowerDVD remote and PowerDVD mobile apps are a welcome addition and provide extended flexibility to the PowerDVD application that is not available from close competitors. The addition of FLAC and OGG audio format support, FLV, MK3D and 3GP video support, and even RAW image file viewing support, make the PowerDVD 12 a much more formidable all-around media player than before.
One flaw that is hard to ignore, however, is the slow speed and sluggishness of PowerDVD12. It is noticeably heavier than most programs and loading videos is not as instantaneous, compared to the competition, even on our high-end Intel Core i7 test system. Multiple programs and services are running in the background, even when the main executable is not launched. There are also no options for modularity when installing the program, other than to opt out of the Cyberlink MoovieLive integration. While the navigation shortcuts and seeking/scaling of a loaded video is instantaneous, opening a video file can be abnormally slow. It doesn't make sense why a standard MP4 file should take four times longer to load in PowerDVD 12 than in Windows Media Player.
The new social media integration is a nice touch and convenient way to share your media library with friends. A simple drag and drop equates to automatic transcoding and uploading to Facebook, Flickr or YouTube. Although the YouTube controls seem buggy at the moment, as the controls are unresponsive once a YouTube video is being played back, leaving the user no choice but to close the program to exit. Much like Apple's iTunes, Cyberlink PowerDVD's media library is complemented with a music store and device synching capabilities. Through the 7digital music store, users can purchase DRM free MP3s and FLAC audio files to expand their library, although, unlike iTunes, there are no free podcasts available. An option to add and manage podcast RSS feeds would be a nice addition in a future release.
Overall, the Cyberlink PowerDVD12 has evolved to reflect the changing times and addresses the growing demand for multiple device integration and downloadable content. The latest version of PowerDVD12 is bigger and much more feature-rich than ever before, although it is also noticeably bloated and slower. While some features, like "instant seeking" during Blu-Ray playback and 2D to 3D conversion, are nice features to have, if it means an overall slower application, it is a feature I could live without. The integration of mobile phones, DLNA compatible devices, and social media is a step in the right direction and will most likely be copied by the competition.