There's nothing like the holiday season to bring people and their families together, and to bring DVDs out of the woodwork, both during gift exchanges and as a way to provide quality viewing for the whole gang to share. This alone often leads PC owners to face Microsoft's failure to bundle DVD player software with Windows XP. (Note: if you're not sure if you've got a DVD decoder installed grab Microsoft's nice little Windows XP Video Decoder Checkup Utility here. Among the many good DVD decoder software options available, we've become pretty fond of CyberLink PowerDVD, which we've been using for more than three years.
The latest version of CyberLink PowerDVD is v7, which includes some nice enhancements from previous versions. It now supports Real Video and QuickTime formats, as well as MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Main Profile. H.264 is central to High Definition DVD format standards, both Blue-Ray and HD-DVD. So, it is key to playing back HD DVD content. In the same vein, v7 now includes support for recorded HDTV streams, including navigation support. Other niceties added include support for DivX and AVI subtitles and an updated QuickClip 2 utility, which permits PowerDVD video clips to be captured as animated GIFs, with various settings for resolution, capture interval, and playback speed now supported.
On the audio side, PowerDVD supports so-called Hall Effects which offer numerous presets (Broadway theater, Chicago theater and so forth) as well as manual room size and warmth settings. Likewise a newly recast Audio Center offers more and better controls over PowerDVD audio options including individual volume and delay settings for each loudspeaker. Best of all the interface has been cleaned up and simplified, and the number of options and controls reduced. Now, everything works through the program's Audio and Video Centers.
For those in need of DVD player-burner software, PowerDVD v7 makes a pretty good Christmas checkbox item! If you're in the market for a DVD player or burner, many vendors offer bundles that include PowerDVD as part of the purchase, though Intervideo's WinDVD or Nvidia's Pure Video players are also bundled with some DVD hardware.
If you can't find PowerDVD anywhere else, you can purchase it at CyberLink's website www.cyberlink.com.
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