Review: Cyberlink PowerDVD 15 Ultra

The following is a review of Cyberlink PowerDVD 15 Ultra, provided to me for free as part of the Amazon Vine program.

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When I was building my gaming PC I picked up a Blu-ray drive after a few weeks, to compliment the DVD player, and so I wouldn't need to power on my PlayStation 3 to watch certain movies. However, despite hearing good things about the free options I found the setup to be too large of a pain. At the time I knew of PowerDVD, having used bundled versions years before, but wasn't yet ready to spend over $75 on a version that would support Blu-ray playback.

So my Blu-ray drive sat empty, and I eventually picked up a Sony Blu-ray player that was on sale. That is until I received Cyberlink PowerDVD 15 Ultra as part of the Amazon Vine program. So this review will be influenced based upon this.

First, we have installation. Cyberlink does provide an electronic version of the installer, so the physical media isn't required. However, unlike what I'm used to, it appears the download isn't generally available, and seemingly can't be downloaded after a certain amount of time has gone by. It would be great if I could download a version from the site and use the serial I received as part of the product to unlock it. But that's a minor issue.

Once the software was installed I decided to try out my Blu-ray copy of Steins;Gate, which is set to Region A. Sadly, I couldn't get the discs to play, despite them working fine on my dedicated blu-ray player. After a few tries I opted to try out the CyberLink BD & 3D Advisor, recommended from the error message. However, for better or worse I ended up getting no errors in the advisor.

So I tried another Blu-ray movie, this time in English. That too wouldn't play, and I believe that at this point for some reason it decided that I need to change my language from Japanese to English, using one of my switches.

I opted at this point to just use my Blu-ray player, and while I tried a few more times later, I couldn't get it working. DVD playback worked just fine (although the ASUS DVD drive I have is louder than my player), except for a bar at the top of the player which eventually went away after putting the software in and out of fullscreen mode a couple of times. However, there are plenty of free alternatives if you're just looking for DVD playback.

Eventually (very recently in fact) I discovered that what might have been causing the error was the fact that I had two screens hooked up to my computer. The first and primary is a television through HDMI, and the second a computer monitor via a DVI cable. After unplugging the DVI cable I'm now seemingly able to play videos. What would have been great, however, is for that possibility to display in the advisor, especially since dual monitors has been a fairly common setup for many years.

So ultimately I just haven't been that impressed with the functionality. However, I will say that I do like the information that is shown when you put a DVD into the player. Outside of one movie it's been able to pick up what DVD/Blu-ray I've put in and given some nice information about it.

With prices of players what they are, I think I'd argue that it would be more cost effective to just purchase a dedicated Blu-ray player, even if you just have a computer monitor that has HDMI in. If you're looking for DVD playback, try one of the free alternatives. It works, but I can't recommend it when there are better alternatives, so I have to give Cyberlink PowerDVD 15 Ultra 3 of 5 stars.