PowerDVD 12 Ultra comes in as a 111 MB compressed setup archive. Installation is fairly straightforward and takes up 327 MB on the disk. Installation of Cyberlink’s social feature, MoovieLive, can be skipped in the setup process. Starting up PowerDVD for the first time after installation gives us the option to set up the media library, but this can always be done at a later stage. PowerDVD provides the option to scan the default media library folders or allows the user to specify them explicitly.

It is also possible to set up a 3D display in the first pass. Options provided include adjustment of 3D depth, swapping first view (left or right eye) and setting up the 3D source format / display type.

PowerDVD 12 installs two services which are set to start when the PC boots up. These services remain active irrespective of whether PowerDVD is running on or not.

PowerDVD also has five processes (including two corresponding to the services) which keep running in the background. These are related to the DLNA functionality offered by the software. This number increases to eight when PowerDVD is playing a disc.

User Interface

Most users do not want the player to communicate with the Internet unless absolutely necessary. However, even if MoovieLive is skipped during installation some of the features are turned on by default. On first startup, the player fetches a bunch of information about the latest Blu-ray and DVD releases, leading to a cluttered interface.

Thankfully, PowerDVD 12 does give the option to turn off this feature in Settings > MoovieLive > MoovieLive Features. Restarting PowerDVD gives us a much cleaner interface.

The navigation pane on the left side clearly segregates the different functions. Media Library gives access to various streams in the media library. The media library feature also gives the ability to change the display picture for the folder in the grid view in a seamless manner. Users also have the option to navigate the various local files in the My Computer section. The Devices section provides information necessary to pair a smartphone / tablet remote with the particular PowerDVD instance. It also lists various removable devices (such as USB flash drives) plugged into the computer.

The Home Media (DLNA) section lists and enables access to all the DLNA servers in the network. In particular, it enables easy access to the media available on smartphones and tablets which have PowerDVD Mobile v4 running on them and sharing the media over DLNA.

The Online Media section enables access to Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. A Playlist shortcut completes the left pane. This enables easy access to recently played media also.

In addition to the Classic Mode described above, PowerDVD also has a Cinema Mode used for playing back discs (there is no support for local media files in this mode). This can be activated by clicking the TV icon right next to the Settings icon on the top right. It can also be launched from within Windows Media Center.

MissingRemote has a nice video of the Cinema Mode in action on YouTube from PowerDVD 11, and this hasn’t changed at all in PowerDVD 12.

CyberLink PowerDVD Cinema Mode (Courtesy: MissingRemote)

IP Control - Android Remote

We installed the PowerDVD Remote Android app on our HTC Vision smartphone as well as the Motorola Xoom, and came away more than satisfied with the performance and offered features. The gallery below shows the setup process and an overview of the features offered by the Android app.

The most interesting feature was the touchpad functionality, where the smartphone screen could be turned into a mouse pad. The app also offered the facility to input text (and, with the HTC Vision’s slide-out keyboard, this was actually pretty fun to use). These features turned out to be pretty useful in actually navigating around the software without resorting to a HTPC keyboard / mouse combination.

The only drawback that I encountered with the remote was the fact that it doesn’t adapt to the orientation of the device. This is a minor inconvenience, particularly when using the touchpad functionality in the landscape mode on tablets.


Introduction Container Compatibility and Codec Support
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • burntham77 - Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - link

    As much as I love my HTPC, there are times when I think just using a stand alone blu-ray player is the best bet. Sure it means one more piece of hardware under the TV, but blu-ray is still hinky on the PC, mainly due to audio codecs being unreliable.
  • Breit - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the review. I have just one question: Does PowerDVD 12 have proper multi-monitor support eventually? All prior versions i have tested so far just give me a cheesy warning dialog box saying that 'resolution is not supported' which means that one display in landscape (30" - 2560x1600 in my case) and one display in portrait mode (20" - 1600x1200) is not what they want their customers to use. Not that this is complicated to handle other players handle this just fine, it is just bullying.
  • Golgatha - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    I've tried both Cyberlink and PowerDVD. Both of them will put you on an upgrade treadmill and the juice just isn't worth the squeeze every year. I know PowerDVD also took out the ability to playback Bluray ISO rips or M2TS files. Cyberlink is clunky and rarely updates their software.

    On the other hand, ArcSoft TMT plays everything beautifully, they don't hound you about upgrading, and they don't mind if you employ a bit of fair use in your media viewing habits. They also provide free and regular updates to the software and it isn't a bloated POS like both Cyberlink and PowerDVD have become.
  • max_daemon - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    I registered to second Golgatha. When I bought a hybrid HD-DVD/Blu-Ray drive in 2008 it came with PowerDVD and I have to say my experience was infuriating. From the start a number of Blu-Ray releases wouldn't play. Updates were few and VERY far between. Even some HD-DVD titles would be messed up, with non-functional menus. Long story short, I shelled up for Total Media Theatre after a long search for a good player - the forums were filled with stories similar to mine, both from PowerDVD and that other popular bundled software whose name eludes me - and have never looked back. I haven't upgraded to the current version (I think it's on 4 now), but it still runs great, plays anything I throw at it, has hardware acceleration, you name it. It was worth every cent.
  • Golgatha - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    TMT 5 is the latest version and I upgraded from a bundled version 3, which was specific to an ASUS HDAV 1.3 slim I owned. At the time I owned PowerDVD 8 and had tried a trial version of Cyberlink, which didn't work at all as was bloated...just awful. Anyway, PowerDVD removed support for HD DVD at random and they also removed support for playback from virtual drives while I was the "proud owner" of their software, which I shelled out $100 for. Those two features basically made me diehard against them, and even if PowerDVD worked well and wasn't bloated, it would be a cold day in hell before I ever gave them my money again.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Guys, I agree TMT used the be the best balance between PDVD and WinDVD, but Cyberlink has learnt its lessons here. The player is not bloated at all, and the pestering to upgrade / purchase other software has toned down quite a bit.

    As I mentioned in the review, PDVD plays back ISOs and folder rips without any problems. (I think they had some issues earlier)

    I did mention in my review about a folder rip which didn't play back in PDVD 12, and a crash while playing back a local file. So, it is not that PDVD is the magic solution.. Cyberlink does need to make some more fixes.
  • Golgatha - Thursday, February 2, 2012 - link

    I sent ArcSoft an email linking them to this feedback section. They replied back within 12 hours. This is what they said...

    Thanks very much for provide the link to us. We will keep support for playback from virtual drives, M2TS files, and keep improve the software.

    Please feel free to contact us if you have any other questions.

    Best Regards,
    ArcSoft Support

    I have never once had a feature removed by ArcSoft. Can't say the same for Cyberlink. ArcSoft gets my money.
  • Tin Hat - Friday, February 3, 2012 - link

    I believe ArcSoft removed HD-DVD support in later versions, which funnily, i found less annoying than when PowerDVD did it. Why? That's because ArcSoft kept updating its software compatibility wih the latest Blu-ray releases so i could continue to watch HD-DVD as well. The only bug to bear was the switching to plain graphics every time HD content kicked in, which ArcSoft never coded out of version 3.

    My main annoyance was when software companies dropped HD-DVD like a stone leaving buyers like me stranded for decent backup tools and players. I noticed only AnyDVD and ArcSoft left solid support for us. The rest just assumed we would just bin all those lovely HD videos or something? I've had a both annoying and educational time learning all about reMuxing and transcoding since then.
  • darkswordsman17 - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    I tried TMT5 and was unimpressed. For one, it would put Windows into basic color scheme even though I made sure to check not force that, it still did it with every Blu-Ray movie I played on it. Performance wasn't terribly impressive. MPC-HC with madVR looks better and performed roughly the same with a trial Blu-Ray rip using MakeMKV of the exact same movie, no compression/encoding or anything. Oh, and using a mouse is a bit of a pain but menus on DVDs and Blu-Rays are often sluggish if not outright horrible to begin with so that's the bigger nuisance.

    So, Arcsoft might be one of the better for what it is, but its still a letdown and not a substitute for say MPC-HC properly configured. If it weren't for the DRM keys needed (and probably DTS-HD decoder), there's basically nothing that other players couldn't do as well if not better. Couple that with the price and its just not worth it to me.

    I'd probably just use MakeMKV but I can't get transcoding of the lossless formats to FLAC figured out yet.
  • daneren2005 - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Why not just use AnyDVD HD. Its non intrusive and just works in the background and allows you to play a blu-ray just like its a dvd from your normal player. And best yet they don't bullshit you and pretend their support is anything but a subscription of their software. They call it what it is.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now