Page 10 of 24: Full Review of PowerDVD 4.0

Note : This is an archived review for an older version of PowerDVD. For the latest review, please refer to this page.


Below is the specs for the test system used :
    Pentium-III 1000
    512 MB PC-133 CAS-2 SDRAM
    NVIDIA GeForce2 Ultra
    SB-Live Platinum 5.1
    Pioneer A05 16X DVD-ROM drive
    Windows 98 SE
    PowerDVD 4.0 XP Deluxe
Index :

Video Quality

While older versions of PowerDVD was always considered to be a poorer quality decoder compared to the rest, PowerDVD 2.5/3.0 has changed the story somewhat.

The picture quality is clear, although less defined than than WinDVD, but the difference is quite small, and hardly noticeable on your standard monitor. WinDVD still seems to win the vote for the best possible picture output, but only by a slim margin.

Rating : A
(updated 9 December 2002)

Decoding Efficiency

Although not as efficient as soft-Cinemaster, it is as good, if not better than InterVideo's WinDVD. Good, but not the best. With modern CPUs, there is almost no difference between the performance of PowerDVD and WinDVD, so efficiency is becoming less of a problem all the time.

Rating : A

Video Support

Plenty of video cards/chips are supported by Cyberlink PowerDVD for acceleration, some of them still quite new on the marget (eg. ATI Radeon 7500/8500 and GeForce3 Ti500). Please refer to the Acceleration Support section to see if your card is supported.

Again, PowerDVD's video support is superior to that of WinDVD's, although things such as this can be easily fixed through patches as new cards are releasd. Accleration support is becoming less of an issue as CPUs gets faster and faster (much like decoder efficiency), and since acceleration adds unwanted picture quality loss, most would prefer to have it turned off.

PowerDVD 4.0 does promise support for Dual-View on most of the more popular video cards that supports this feature.

PowerDVD 4.0's Video Options

Rating : A
(updated 9 December 2002)

Audio Quality/Support

Audio has been the main focus of this new release - with DTS, Dolby Pro-Logic II, Dolby Digital Surround EX, SRS TruSurround XT and DS3D/A3D Virtual Speaker support being added in the more expensive Deluxe edition of PowerDVD 4.0 XP. Audio volume has been dealt with by including dynamic range control, and LFE decoding has finally been implemented (with WinDVD having it many releases ago).

PowerDVD 4.0's Audio Support

All the usual Dolby Digital, MPEG, Dolby Headphones support are still in there.

Audio quality is clear and volume (with the proper dynamic range compression settings) is loud enough. I would say that Cyberlink has put a lot of work into improving audio quality and support, to do some much needed catch up with WinDVD 3.0, and surpassing it in many areas as well.

PowerDVD 4.0's Audio Options

Audio Quality Rating : A+
Audio Support Rating : A
(updated 9 December 2002)


PowerDVD 4.0 like 3.0 supports both closed captions and subtitles - in fact, it even supports dual subtitles (2 different subtitles can be displayed at the same time, one on top of the screen, the other on the bottom) - and dual subtitles can also be displayed at the same time as closed captions, which means 3 subtitles/captions can be simultaneously displayed at the same time. Closed captions are displayed as white text on a transparent background, which isn't as clear as WinDVD's white text on a black background setup - WinDVD also supports more subtitles being displayed at once (up to 4!!), although you can argue this is an overkill, considering many DVDs don't even have 4 subtitles. There has been no apparent change between version 3.0 and 4.0.

PowerDVD's Dual Subtitle Support
PowerDVD's Dual Subtitle Support

Rating : A


With PowerDVD's implementation, you do have the ability to capture to clipboard, instead of a file, and you have the ability to specify a location to store the captured file. PowerDVD even includes a option to capture to your Windows desktop. PowerDVD 4.0 adds the option to capture either at the original resolution of the video source, or at the current window size. WinDVD's implementation is much more limited (there is only an option to capture to a BMP file), so PowerDVD wins clearly in this department.

PowerDVD 4.0's Capture Options

Rating : B+
(updated 9 December 2002)

User Interface

The interface of PowerDVD 4.0 remains largely unchanged from that of PowerDVD 3.0. The main difference is the toolbar, which now "auto-hides", and the "Select Source" option, which allows for better opening of file/discs. Both of these have been covered in the What's New for PowerDVD 4.0 page, so please refer to it for more details. Another improvement is the re-organisation of the "configuration" panels, by hiding more advanced configuration options with an added "advanced" button, thereby making it more accessible to beginners. These improvements in interface solves some of the more confusing/frustrating problems of previous versions.

Below is the User Interface Review for PowerDVD 3.0 :
PowerDVD by far has the best interface of any software DVD players. The first thing you notice is the new interface. In fact, the interface is very flexible, allowing you to change the "skin" whenever one become available (currently there are 5 skins included in the retail package). Menus are easy to access, all the options are available with a right-click as well as on the main console. PowerDVD 3.0 also now a toolbar option, which overlays a toolbar at the side of your desktop screen that contains the most used controls (see this page and this page for more information and screen shots) - although the implementation of this toolbar could have been done better (eg. the inclusion of a "auto hide" feature).

There is also a wide range of shortcut keys, which is also nice to have for those with good memories and/or a dislike of multiple mouse movements/clicks.

Rating : B+
(updated 9 December 2002)

OS Support

PowerDVD is supported under a wide range of Windows version, including 98, Me and 2000, as well as NT 4.0. Because of the limitations of driver/multimedia support under NT/2000, not all of the enhanced features (like acceleration support) will be available. PowerDVD 4.0 XP is, of course, the first DVD player to be made specifically for the platform (other DVD players may require patching to obtain Windows XP compatibility, and may not have the Windows XP look and feel).

Rating : A+


Zoom support has been added in WinDVD 2000 version 2.1 and in a way it is both superior and inferior to the implementation in PowerDVD. Whereas WinDVD offers you free control over zoom (you can drag any area on screen to zoom to), PowerDVD's controls are more accurate, and much better suited to make widescreen features play in full-screen (eg. it includes presets to make standard widescreen aspect ratio movies to play back in full screen). The digital zoom is of excellent clarity - no pixelations.

The biggest problem is with playing widescreen AVI/DivX files, since PowerDVD removes the "keep aspect ratio" option for playing these kinds of files, when zoomed to full screen, the proper aspect ratio is lost. WinDVD does not have this problem.

This feature remains unchanged from PowerDVD 3.0, with the same problems as before (ie. playing widescreen AVIs), so rating has been downgraded :(

Rating : B+

Acceleration Support

For the latest information on hardware compatibility and acceleration support, please refer to this page.



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