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Tech News: CyberLink Launches PowerDVD 11 Media Playback Software

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CyberLink has now released the latest version of its popular and long-running DVD and Blu-ray playback software, PowerDVD. Similar to its predecessor (not surprisingly called PowerDVD 10), PowerDVD 11 is available in three forms: Standard, Deluxe and Ultra. Ultra is the most feature-packed version and the only one of the three editions to include support for playback of Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, recorded 3D TV and the AVCREC and AVCHD formats.

Although often categorized as movie playback software, PowerDVD has grown far beyond the limited range of applications that suggests. PowerDVD 11 supports viewing of movies, photos and videos as well as playback of music files. The photo viewing feature wasn’t in previous versions of the program. These media can be played on or accessed from DVD and Blu-ray discs, the local PC, DLNA servers, YouTube, Facebook and Flickr. Another new feature is the ability to display photos and videos directly from an iPhone, iPad or Android device that has the PowerDVD 11 remote control app installed.

“While the PC remains central to the digital entertainment experience, portable devices and online content are playing increasingly important roles,” Alice H. Chang, CEO of CyberLink, said in a press release. “PowerDVD 11 smoothes the flow between the PC, smart devices and online content so that users can get the most out of their digital entertainment anywhere.”

Regardless of their source, low resolution videos can be upscaled using CyberLink’s TrueTheater™ technology. This can be particularly useful for improving the quality of YouTube videos and movies recorded on older iPhones that are going to be played back on an HDTV. A CyberLink representative also told me that they have improved the algorithms that the software uses for converting 2D media to 3D.

Currently, 3D is the big push for the entertainment industry and CyberLink is on board. In addition to having the capability (in the Ultra version) to playback 3D Blu-ray movies and convert 2D DVDs to a variety of 3D formats on the fly, PowerDVD 11 (in the Deluxe and Ultra editions) allows users to convert 2D photos to 3D format using files stored on the local disk, an iPhone, iPad or Android device, a DLNA server or Facebook and Flickr. Native and converted 3D videos, meanwhile, can be uploaded to YouTube.

Whether in 2D or 3D, videos can be viewed in a variety of formats. According to the specifications provided by CyberLink, these include MKV (H.264), FLV (H.264), WTV, 3GP and 3G2 files.

Home media is not all about video, of course. Among its audio capabilities, PowerDVD 11 has support for 7.1-channel surround sound in the Ultra version, 5.1-channel DTS audio across all three retail versions, and new Dolby Digital Plus support for MP4 files.

Aesthetically PowerDVD 11 doesn’t differ much from PowerDVD 10. In the pre-retail build that CyberLink sent me for review, the front screen image was the same as on PowerDVD 10 (aside from the change from 10 to 11). The layout and appearance of the tabs used to access the different media format was also the same. In line with the addition of new features, however, PowerDVD 11 has two more tabs (Photos and Devices) than PowerDVD 10. The new version also has a neat spinning graphic that is briefly displayed as it accesses media.

This overview touches upon only a few of the features of PowerDVD 11. More details will be given in an upcoming review along with a comparison against other software programs capable of Blu-ray 3D playback: Corel WinDVD® Pro 2010, ArcSoft TotalMedia® Theatre 5 and Roxio CinePlayer® with 3D.

PowerDVD 11 is available from the CyberLink store in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Japanese, Korean, Russian or Portuguese. A free trial download is also available from the CyberLink website. The software will be offered through other retail outlets in a few weeks.

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