Note : This is an archived review for an older version of PowerDVD. For the latest review, please refer to this page.
to read the official PowerDVD 3.0 readme file for a brief of what's new
in this release.
Most of the changes/new features in PowerDVD 3.0 has been covered in our PowerDVD 3.0 preview
. This page covers some of the other things that haven't been covered, the things that are not so obvious and also explains some of the new features in greater detail.
To see a complete review of the latest version of PowerDVD, please refer to this page
The first thing you notice is the increased audio volume and quality. Audio has always been PowerDVD's weak point, and it seems that the engineers at Cyberlink has finally realised what was wrong and took the steps to fix it.
Dolby Pro-logic decoding is also now supported, which means that for things like DVD trailers and other bonus materials (which are usually only encoded in Dolby Pro-logic) will sound a lot better now.
Dolby Headphones are now also supported. For more information on what Dolby Headphones are, please read my review
of this feature as first found in MGI's SoftDVD Max player.
In addition, PowerDVD now support 4 speaker audio for the SB-Live range under Windows 2000. The new decoders are also certified by Dolby Laboratory for 2/4/6 channel decoding. From my testing, the volume seems to have doubled, and is very close to the quality produced by Intervideo WinDVD's
audio decoders, which are considered to be the best.
While Cyberlink does claim that there is now an "enhanced MPEG video decoder", there wasn't any great differences between this and the older 2.55 (build 0620) decoder - at least the difference wasn't as great as the audio decoder. The decoder still seemed a little more blurry than the Intervideo video decoder, evident even in Toy Story 2's FBI warning screen - with WinDVD, you could see clearly the words "Federal Bureau of Investigation" in the FBI logo ; with PowerDVD, while you could still make out the words, they are perhaps a little bit more blurry than comfort. Decoding performance remains the same, and perhaps a little faster when testing the same scene in Toy Story 2.
Dual subtitles is an unique PowerDVD feature, which allows you to select up to 2 subtitles to display during DVD playback. This is particularly good if you happen to be watching a DVD with someone else who speaks a different language. But other than that, this feature remains a gimmick, but one that may prove nice to have in the future, and may even prove to be useful at some time in the future.
Closed caption support is also now present, bringing PowerDVD in line with WinDVD and soft-Cinemaster, both of which has support for this feature sometime ago. Closed captions are captions especially designed for people with hearing difficulties, and differ from subtitles by being larger (easily readable - see below) and also contains additional aural information (eg. description of background noise).
Just like the Windows Toolbar or the Creative Launcher applications (included with the Liveware software for SB-Live cards), PowerDVD now features such a toolbar for easy access to the frequently used controls (play, stop, pause ...). Unfortunately, as mentioned in the preview, there is no way to "auto hide" this toolbar (an option available for both the Windows and Creative Launcher toolbars), and as such, it takes away a precious amount of screen real estate. At the very least, a short-cut key should have been provided, which would had made this feature much better. But it was a nice idea anyway.
To quickly go through the rest of the chanages/additons :
- Now includes slow motion reverse playback, A-B repeat (the repetition of a user selectable segment - from point A to point B), playlist enhancements (added support for M3U playlist files) and a step backwards frame function (see below).
- Now includes 3 additional skins, including Submarine (screenshot on this page), Fly and Eyeball (screenshots on this page).
- PowerDVD now features Microsoft WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Lab) certification with Windows 98, Millennium and 2000. In addition, PowerDVD now support 4 speaker audio for the SB-Live range under Windows 2000.