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Product: PowerDVD XP 4.0 Deluxe
Company: Cyberlink
Estimated Street Price:
Review By: Julien Jay


Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Audio Features
3: Features

The DVD format is now unavoidable when it comes to watching videos; it would be unthinkable to turn back to the old school VHS format. With improved video and audio quality and many bonuses included on blockbuster DVDs, this format has become a new standard. The Taiwanese software developer, Cyberlink, has quickly understood this and has proposed to us for several years the well known product PowerDVD. PowerDVD is software that playbacks DVDs on computers that are equipped with a DVD-Rom drive. With today’s powerful computers, hardware DVD decoders are totally useless and software like PowerDVD is definitely the ideal solution to watch DVDs on your PC. So we will find out if the new version 4.0 of PowerDVD, dubbed ‘PowerDVD XP’ consistently improves the comfort of watching DVD movies on your computer.


   Installation, like other Windows software, is a breeze. Put the CD in your drive, type your serial key and here we go. The setup automatically copies the necessary files on your hard disk as well as software decoding files for mpeg video and dd/dts audio. After rebooting the computer, the setup automatically configures the dma mode for your drives (and obviously the DVD drive). I did not encounter any problems, however you may have some problems with old drives; in that case, you will just have to configure the dma mode with Windows if it has not already done.

DVD Technology Reminder

For those of you who forget, the advantages of the DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) format are numerous: first on a small 12 cm width plastic circle you have a high digital quality film available in up to 8 different languages (eventually with subtitles) with at least a Stereo CD sound or with most of today films a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound (or DTS). Films are stored on DVDs using the well-known MPEG 2 compression process ensuring an incredibly high image quality: two faced DVDs can contain up to 17 GB of data making DVD the perfect media for video storage. The basic bandwidth of a DVD player running at 1x reaches 1.3 MB per second which is sufficient enough for video flux. Compared to a standard VHS tape the quality of the image is highly better: a VHS tape features a 240 lines resolution (around 300 for SVHS) while a DVD features a resolution that can climb up to 500 lines. 

Another observation is the fact that films aren’t yet originally digitally mastered so some DVDs may still present dust points like on VHS tapes since the master is still an analogical one but quality lost is practically non-existent. The other advantage, in terms of imaging quality, of the DVD over the VHS tape is that the quality of the image doesn’t decrease while you play it and doesn’t fear dust, fingerprints, wear, magnetic damages, etc. If VHS tapes, due to their analogical format, feature a random image quality that depends on many factors (is the playing head of the VCR clean, how many playing heads the VCR have, is the tape not too old, etc?) with a DVD you’re sure to always have a clear and bright image on every player of the world even ten years after you originally purchased the disc. This is partly why the image is so good on DVDs and that’s also why more & more people turn to DVDs even if they aren’t as flexible as VHS tapes since you can’t record films on them.    

One thing to consider is that the DVD-Forum has divided the world in 8 regions to make sure you can’t read a region 1 DVD if you live in region 5… This is quite absurd for users but it’s necessary for the video industry to avoid piracy. That’s why today DVD drives are RPC-2 with a firmware that can let you change the region setting only 5 times. Anyway the quality of the image will definitely stick you in your couch while the sound will propel you in the heart of the action. At the sound level, to enjoy a cinema like one, you’ll have to purchase a set of expensive 5.1 speakers with their Dolby digital decoder: if it provides an incredible detailed & spatial sound it requires you to put cables in your house to position speakers correctly to have front and background effects meaning you’ll often take your feet into the cables that go through your living room unless you can afford the inclusion of cables into the walls. Digital Video Discs are also interactive since they often come with bonuses like producer comments, free pictures, soundtracks, movie announcements, etc. some of them even let you choose the camera’s angle.



  Audio Features »


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