Top critical review
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Buy a hardware player!
on 4 November 2011
This software costs more than a decent hardware Blu-Ray player, which is ridiculous. Furthermore, a hardware player will keep playing Blu-Ray discs for more than 2-3 years - PowerDVD won't! Here is what happens: the Blu-Ray format is mired with a whole mess of DRM. When you have software players, the DRM keys keep getting compromised so you need a patch to update the player with new DRM keys in order to play the latest Blu-Ray discs. Older discs will still play though. Unfortunately, Cyberlink eventually decides that they do not want to issue patches for older versions of PowerDVD because they want you to buy a new version. They do offer upgrades for existing users, but they are pretty pricey too!)
Furthermore, since the beginning of 2011, Blu-Ray players are not allowed to offer analogue output of the Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD sound at full quality. It either has to be downmixed when using analogue output (you still get sound but not the top quality) or output over HDMI to an AV Amp.
These problems are not really Cyberlink's fault - it is all because of the over zealous DRM in Blu-Ray. However, they make using ANY software Blu-Ray player problematic. If you do not want Blu-Ray, then just get VLC player for free, and it does a splendid job with DVDs.
Pitched at around the £20 mark, PowerDVD Ultra would be worth considering, but at this price, it is a joke.
Note: there are some other annoying aspects of Blu-Ray on a PC. With DVDs you could always click on a menus item with a mouse. Some Blu-Ray discs support this - some don't. It is not mandatory. Therefore, you either have to use the arrow keys or the virtual remote window that PowerDVD provides. This can be a pain, and it is a lot easier to just have a hardware player with a proper remote.