Cyberlink PowerDVD 11 Ultra

PowerDVD 11 Ultra is a great Blu-ray and multimedia player that includes a lot of extra features when you go for the best edition of the series which is also the most expensive.

Ease of Use, Performance: 23/25
Look & Feel: 22/25
Features 22/25
How much I enjoy 22/25

Total: 89/100

Cyberlink PowerDVD 11 Ultra

Lots of Blu-ray enthusiasts watch movies on their computers but you need two things to do this and one of course is a player but the second is a program to play those movies in high definition. There are only a few media players available to consumers that will play Blu-ray movies and one of these better ones is from Cyberlink.

Cyberlink’s PowerDVD 11 comes in three editions with a standard lower priced edition and the middle of the road Deluxe and the most expensive edition is called the Ultra. The editions cost from $50 to $78 and have additional features for the more expensive editions but only one major difference from the lower cost to the top program.

The main differences include a mobile version and support for various features but the really big one is Blu-ray player and 3D Blu-ray player for the Ultra edition. I really would not consider buying the less expensive editions myself as the main reason to even be looking at PowerDVD is the Blu-ray player feature.

The Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray playback is the main reason to be looking at PowerDVD and the Ultra edition is the only one that has it so this is the main edition I am looking at for my review. Blu-ray playback is great and with the minor purchase of another program is almost perfect in my opinion even if I could not get some of the extras to work.

Playing a Video Slideshow

PowerDVD has a lot of supported file formats for playing including Blu-ray, DVD, 3D and many others along with Dolby Digital and DTS-HD audio formats. When you install and want to use the player you have a main window with tabs for each section on the top or a Cinema mode that is more for HTPC use in a living room.

The Cinema Mode gets rid of the tabs and has things laid out in a Windows Media Center type arrangement with a menu of choices for things like Chapters and Movies but it gets rid of your other media choices. You can play a lot of different media types form movies and videos to music and even images with PowerDVD 11 so it makes a great all around media center program.

PowerDVD 11 Ultra has five tabs across the top labeled DVD, Video, Photo, Music and Device with each tab having just the controls you would expect. DVD plays movies and Blu-ray discs while Video is your generic file video player with Music being your audio player.

Photo is an image viewer and Device is a spot to work with any mobile device to view movies, videos or use as remotes for the player. Mobile devices are the better tablets and smartphones that can be used as either a remote control or to use as your display while your computer works as a server.

Music Tab

I could not get either the remote app or the mobile app to work on two tablets so I could not tell you how well these features work. I did use the player for all the regular features including Blu-ray playback, movies on DVD, videos, You Tube videos, image viewing and listening to my favorite tunes.

There are a few features like TrueTheatre that works to smooth out smaller resolution video, make standard video look like high definition and steady a shaky video from a handheld camcorder. All these features work to some extent but most of the quality depends mostly on the source video and its quality so they are not feqatures I would count on mostly.

TrueTheatre effects can only do so much with the source video, if video quality is low the output from any enhancements will only be able to get so much better in quality. The same is true for all the effects and even things like stretching the video from a 4:5 source to widescreen, the edges get distorted because they can only do so much with what they have to begin with.

This is also true of just about all the effects and image stabilizing the program undertakes, the effects do work well but overall things look better for the most part. Video for playback of YouTube and other lower quality is alright, it is actually an easier way to watch and search for videos than the actual YouTube website.

YouTube w/ Video Enhancements

When you click on the YouTube section under video you get thumbnails of videos and the title which is shortened but brings up a full page of thumbnails. The layout is much cleaner and you get more of a selection onscreen than you would with YouTube’s own website without any annoying ads.

Most videos will not be able to up convert much above what the video is uploaded to YouTube as, video like 360p will only go up one level to 480p. The YouTube selection is actually a much better way to cruise through videos on YouTube if you’re looking for some entertaining videos quickly.

All the tabs are laid out the same basic way with menu selections down the left side of the page and your choices appearing in the middle of the page. The menu tress down the left side will differ depending on the tab you’re on and the content type but they are pretty self-explanatory.

Photo player works well as it simply lists all photo images from your Windows Library Pictures folder first and then a Windows Tree from your Computer below that on the left side of the page. Below this you have options for Online Media such as Facebook and Flickr then your home media server and finally a place to create slideshows.

YouTube Video Page

Creating slideshows is very easy, simply click on the new slideshow and a new entry will pop up, then find pictures in the folders on the page then drag and drop onto the new slideshow heading. When you want to play the slideshow simply click on the play button at the bottom of the screen and the show will begin with automatic image display and effects like panning, zooming and such.

This is a neat and easy way to set up a slideshow for friends or for a party without having to spend a lot of time with individual settings or having to pick out transitions, effects and any panning or zooms. This works perfectly with the music where you can have the music playing while the slideshow is onscreen for a simple and entertaining slideshow.

The Music tab lays out all your music library from your Windows Music folder and below this the usual My Computer tree then the Home Media server choice and playlists below this. Playlists are just as easy to create as the slideshow and other list selections of PowerDVD 11 by dragging and dropping onto the menu item.

You can also simply click a box on each item in the main window and it will be added to the currently selected playlist of default new playlist if none are selected. Playing is done using the bottom screen controls where you can play in order or shuffle and random play your songs.

Reordering music and any other selections in these lists is done by dragging and dropping which makes all the created lists easy to work with and use. I can easily see parties or family events like Thanksgiving and the family sitting around watching a simple slideshow while enjoying a choice selection of music on your home theatre computer.

All is not roses and other pretty flowers, I did run across a few things I did not like or had problems with and one is there was no easy button to click on for which drive I am using. Tech supports response is hit ctrl O to get a popup for which drive I’m using but I should not have to contact tech support to find this out.

Another thing was annoying for me is the Movie information on the main screen when you open the program that looks very cluttered with all the thumbnails and information for movies I don’t really care about. I would prefer to just shut this off but you can keep them on and use the Mooivelive service to get information about movies, series and more on the movie tab.

I just prefer to hide all that extra stuff that I personally have no interest in, I enjoy the simpler things and would like to keep all that extra stuff to those that prefer it. PowerDVD 11 Ultra is a very good Blu-ray and media player and has all the features that are necessary for a great program as well as the extras you could want.

One nice feature comes somewhere in the internals of the program but one that I have found on another program that does not work well is moving the entire program from one screen to another. I have three monitors and move my movie program to a side screen while I work on my main monitor and when moving the program to the side it slides smoothly.

Another video playing program from Arcsoft has a real problem with dragging the screen across monitors and smoothly moving as well as keeping the movie playing. When moving a non-full screen PowerDVD from one monitor to the next you only get a split second break in video where the movie screen goes black but audio continues to play without a hiccup.

On the other program it stops playing video and audio and at times crashes the program if a movie is playing so I would have to pause the movie and move it across while on pause. A few times it did crash and I had to restart the program which I really should not have to deal with when just moving the program from screen to screen.

Other than a few simple problems and some things that I cannot change the program worked perfectly for me on all the uses I put it to but mainly for movie viewing. I really have not had any other problems and do prefer this Blu-ray player over other ones I have tried before.

I highly recommend Cyberlink’s PowerDVD 11 Ultra for the perfect solution for watching Blu-ray movies on your computer and all kinds of other media.

Cyberlink Website