PowerDVD 19 evaluate: 8K UHD playback and 4K UHD TrueTheater enhancements

PowerDVD, essentially the most highly effective and full video playback answer on the planet, is as soon as once more taking part in effectively forward of the curve. Revving to model 19 ends in the trade’s first 8K Extremely HD playback software program for the PC. Between the dearth of 8K shows and TVs (and the price of what is accessible) and the truth that 8K content material is nearly non-existent, PowerDVD 19 is an answer in quest of an issue. However it by no means hurts to be ready, and the brand new software program does ship sensible enhancements for 4K UHD content material as effectively.

These new options embrace 360-degree-video spatial audio (sounds emanate from the correct location in {surround} techniques); shade, lighting, and HDR TrueTheater enhancements for 4K video (these had been previously accessible just for 1080 video); an inner 64-bit engine for extra exact processing; help for exterior subtitles (streamed throughout the net); HEIC/HEIF and GIF picture help; and help for WebM, a free and open-source video codec (VP9/9.2 + Opus & VP9 + Vorbis). Good one there. Royalty-free is healthier.

Two different minor tweaks are the power to alter this system background picture, and to pick out the standard of YouTube movies earlier than you pin them. “Pin” in PowerDVD communicate means obtain for offline viewing. Yup, it does that.

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YouTube movies accessible for viewing and pinning (downloading) in PowerDVD 19

PowerDVD additionally does a complete lot extra, comparable to taking part in a variety of music codecs, pull double-duty as a music/video/picture librarian, sync with moveable gadgets, stream from community areas, and interface with Cyberlink’s on-line storage. For extra granular data on different options, try our opinions of PowerDVD 18, PowerDVD 17, and PowerDVD 16.

8K Extremely HD help

Full disclosure: I didn’t have an 8K show accessible throughout my evaulation interval, and I had simply two 8K UHD take a look at recordsdata to work with. The software program efficiently decoded these recordsdata and displayed them on a 4K show.

Bear in mind that decoding 8K video requires a lot of processor horsepower as a result of compression and sheer quantity of information concerned. My older Intel Core i7-2700 couldn’t reduce it, however my newer computer systems did. You’ll want a PC with an Intel Kaby Lake (ix-6xxx) CPU or higher, or a discrete graphics card that helps HDCP 2.2 to play again the Extremely HD Blu-ray discs that PowerDVD additionally handles.

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PowerDVD 19 taking part in an 8K Extremely HD file.

I have to say that whereas I’ve seen 8K photographs that present distinct enchancment intimately over 4K, the movies I’ve seen thus far don’t provide the identical enhance. I believe that’s the heavier compression at work, as may be the case in most broadcasts. In different phrases, horny it could sound, however it’s not going to be all it may very well be till nonetheless bigger pipes can be found or it arrives on disc (Extremely HD Blu-ray will help it).

New spatial audio

In the event you haven’t seen 360 video, it’s fairly the deal with. It hasn’t taken off as rapidly as I believed it will (it’s a no brainer promotional instrument for journey firms and vacationer locations), however it’s fairly attention-grabbing. Earlier iterations of PowerDVD, nevertheless, had been unable to persuade your ears that audio was emanating from the areas the place your eyes instructed you it ought to. PowerDVD 19 can, though you’ll want a surround-sound system or a VR headset to expertise it.

Broad file format help

As beforehand talked about, PowerDVD 19 helps HEIC/HEIF and GIF photographs. That it didn’t help GIF earlier than was a little bit of a puzzler, because it’s a very fashionable format on the net, particularly for animation. HEIF stands for Excessive-Effectivity Picture Format (mainly a companion to HEVC/h.265) developed by the Movement Photos Specialists Group, extra famously generally known as MPEG.

It’s mentioned to halve the dimensions of present JPEG pictures, or double the quantity of data in the identical dimension file—whichever manner you like to have a look at it. HEIC (Excessive-Effectivity Picture Compression) is solely one other file extension for a similar format. 

PowerDVD variations

I reviewed PowerDVD 19 Extremely ($99.95), however the software program is out there in three different configurations: The Reside version is actually a subscription that delivers all of the options in Extremely in three-month ($19.95) or one-year ($44.99) increments. PowerDVD 19 Professional prices $79.95, however it drops help for the h.265 codec—meaning it could possibly’t play Blu-ray Extremely HD video. PowerDVD 19 Customary prices $59.95, however it lacks much more options than the Professional model. Cyberlink publishes a desk explaining what is and isn’t in each version here. Peruse it carefully before you buy, as many of the features I  described above are only available in Ultra.

If you’re going to buy this program, the best value is to go all in with PowerDVD 19 Ultra. That said, PowerDVD Standard does a bang-up job on old movies, and that’s  what I use if for the most.

A worthwhile purchase

Not everyone needs PowerDVD in any of its forms. There are plenty of free alternatives, including VLC, Media Player Classic, Windows Video, and more. But PowerDVD is the only Windows software (there is no MacOS version) that can play virtually any type of video, including copy-protected commercial Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, 3D video, 360 video, and more.

And for videophiles, PowerDVD’s ability to transform older and less-pristine video into something far more pleasant to watch makes it a must-have. Good stuff from Cyberlink.

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