PowerDVD version 12 Ultra is here, and it brings with it increased 3D support and improved playback controls. At the same time, it changes its game a bit by offering tools for organizing and managing all of your media across devices. Now you can use your desktop PC as a server for all of your content, and with PowerDVD Mobile, you can browse and play that content from anywhere.
PowerDVD's bread and butter has always been its movie playback capabilities, and with version 12 that hasn't changed. The program can still play DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and an impressive number of video file formats quite well. Some new additions, however, include playlists, the ability to zoom in on video, and 2D-to-3D conversion for Blu-ray discs. At this point, the conversion feature is pretty much a novelty, but that doesn't change the fact that it works considerably well. It even lets you adjust the depth of the graphics in case you want to see how eye-popping the 3D can get.
Beyond typical movie playback, PowerDVD 12 comes with dramatically improved syncing and streaming. Now it can act as a hub for all of your media content--videos, photos, and music--and can sync across your various PCs and Android devices via USB. Setting up your devices to stream over the network can get confusing, but once you figure it out, PowerDVD's DLNA keeps it working like a charm. It even lets you push media content from PowerDVD out to selected devices. This means that from your desktop, you can push a video out to play on your Android tablet and vice versa. Streaming to Android devices requires the PowerDVD Mobile app, which comes free with PowerDVD Ultra. Otherwise, the app costs $19.99 in the Android Market.
PowerDVD 12 also lets you view, share, and download photos from your Facebook and Flickr albums--something I haven't seen in any other multimedia programs. And finally, it comes with built-in access to the 7digital Music Store, which confirms my belief that CyberLink is making a run to incorporate an iTunes for Windows and Android into its software.
At this point, it seems like CyberLink PowerDVD is quickly outgrowing its name. Sure, DVD playback has been and still is its main gig, but the program is obviously creeping into other territories with its integrated social media features, streaming and syncing, and its partnership with the 7digital Music Store. Whether it's true or not, I'm all for extra features without the extra cost, and that's exactly what this iteration of PowerDVD offers up.
If you're looking for a premium, all-in-one media player for Windows, I highly recommend checking out PowerDVD 12 Ultra. It may not be as easy to set up as iTunes, but it has some power features that make it worthwhile.