CyberLink has been regularly updating their multimedia playback software / PC DVD & Blu-ray players. While ArcSoft dropped out of the software Blu-ray player market a few years back, the only other legal (i.e, one that includes licenses for all required codecs) player - Corel's WinDVD Pro, receives fairly spaced out upgrades. As the HTPC market shifts from a local media-heavy scenario to one where OTT (over-the-top) content like YouTube and Netflix form the main part of the experience, it has become important for commercial software media players to evolve. CyberLink realized this early, with a mobile-centric experience getting introduced in PowerDVD 12. With PowerDVD 14, the technology updates (such as inclusion of HEVC support) were accompanied by a shift in the marketing message from a 'software Blu-ray and DVD player' to a 'media player for power users'.

CyberLink is launching PowerDVD 17 today. Similar to the focus on mobile devices in PowerDVD 12, the time is ripe for them to focus on the next big content consumption device - the virtual reality head-mounted displays (HMDs). PowerDVD 17 Ultra has a special VR mode that works with the HTC Vive as well as the Oculus Rift for an immersive media experience.

PowerDVD 17 is also the fist certified software Blu-ray player capable of playing back Ultra HD (4K) Blu-rays on a PC. The hardware requirements are quite stringent, though. In addition to the two GIGABYTE boards mentioned below, the ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming-ITX/ac is also an option for a UHD Blu-ray playback-capable HTPC. Pioneer is currently the only choice for PC-compatible UHD Blu-ray optical drives.

Coming back to the new features in PowerDVD 17, UHD Blu-ray playback support includes HDR10 capabilities also. The player can also upconvert SDR content to HDR using some proprietary algorithms as part of the TrueTheater feature set. As mentioned earlier, HMD support is available for playback of 360 videos. The UI and navigation is also optimized for HMDs in the VR mode. There is also some additional support for YouTube playback, particularly with respect to 360 and 4K videos.

The introduction of VR HMD support enables CyberLink to be an end-to-end media player irrespective of the device used for consuming the content.

It is no secret that the onerous DRM requirements have made Blu-rays a pain for HTPC enthusiasts. PowerDVD 17 requires an active Internet connection for the first time playback of an Ultra HD Blu-ray movie. Consumers who appreciate the extra video and audio quality from local discs have to put up with these annoyances. In addition to UHD Blu-ray playback, some of the other features such as the TrueTheater effects are not yet matched in a user-friendly manner by excellent open source media players like Kodi. That said, many users appreciate Kodi's open source background, its flexibility, and, obviously the fact that it is free.

That brings us to the final aspect - pricing. PowerDVD 17 is available in four flavors ranging in price from $60 to $100.

CyberLink also has a subscription-based offering - PowerDVD Live. It has the same feature set as that of PowerDVD Ultra, but, is priced at $15 / $45 on a quarterly / annual basis. The gallery below also includes a detailed comparison of the features available in each version.

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  • ET - Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - link

    UHD Blu-ray supports a grand total of 3 motherboards, and only high end CPU's using integrated graphics. Zero users guaranteed?
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - link

    I just mount a dvd rip, that I've created from the original purchased disk, then play the movie using Powerdvd. It causes me little hassle other than the constant nagging to upgrade.

    I do, however, wish that they'd offer a vanilla stripped to media playing only version without all of the other crap.
  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - link

    Who even watches stuff on a disc anymore? I have a crappy 12 mbps DSL connection and anything I watch is streamed. I don't even waste my time with cable or satellite TV. Why bother when there's commercials and adverts? And even moreso, who buys software to watch videos? That stuff died a decade ago and only a few holdouts and dinosaurs even get discs, usually to rip content and store it *giggle* on a file server (well, they call them media servers to feel more modern, but we all know the truth).
  • pixelstuff - Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - link

    Netflix DVD is still the best source of watching a newly released movies in the U.S. I mean, basically I watch close to 80 movies a year that aren't available for streaming.

    Well I take that back. You can actually rent those movie streams, but for some reason they still cost twice as much or more than renting the disc from Netflix or Redbox.
  • doh!! - Sunday, May 28, 2017 - link

    guess u dun enjoy hd sound or 32 bit audio then.
  • Gadgety - Thursday, April 13, 2017 - link

    So just like Microsoft and their Windows 10 "upgrade now or we pester you forever until you edit the register" consumer terror, Cyberlink in desperation will pester and nag you to upgrade incessantly. I understand it's because there's a small user base, and Cyberlink will milk the user base until the last drop of cash. That's enough for me not to want either product. Too bad. In addition Pioneer's UHD drives are big ass regular drives instead of slot loading prohibiting a nice HTPC/gaming design. Furthermore limited to Intel CPUs etc, etc. Any problems with quality and, if the companies cared for the customers, they would start pointing to the others, but as they don't, they'll just push you the next "upgrade." Nah, looks like regular 1080 with MadVR upsampling to 4k will be a better alternative. Amazingly the freeware developers seem to care more about feedback, continuous development and their user base, than the commercial organizations.
  • Chaon - Thursday, April 13, 2017 - link

    If you are thinking of purchasing PowerDVD 17, please contact me immediately. I have several high-quality bridges, as well as some prime real estate in Florida, for sale to people just like you.
  • Savatar - Monday, April 17, 2017 - link

    I just wanted to comment on here because I saw all the comments from people lamenting nagging ads to 'upgrade' to the latest version. Unfortunately, tons of companies do this... Corel products do this, AcdSee does it, CyberLink, and even Microsoft now with Windows 10 promoting Office 365 and stuff. It actually seems to be pretty rare to find good commercial software that doesn't do it.

    While I can't really defend the practice (it is annoying, and I think promoting updates to registered email addresses should be adequate), it doesn't seem fair to say that you won't use it solely because of that when so many other products do the same thing.
  • watzupken - Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - link

    I feel that many companies are putting adverts and reminders does not mean that it is something that we should accept. In the first place, we paid for the software (Windows 10 may be a "free" upgrade) and some don't come cheap.

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