Far from being just office workhorses, computers are also thought of as complete entertainment systems that you can use to chat with friends, play videogames or watch movies. Regarding this last option, there's a wide range of DVD players out there, but we'll focus our attention on one of them: Power DVD.
The program's installation process is very quick. It includes Google Toolbar as an add-on but you can decline its installation if you're not interested. Once launched, you gain access to its main interface which, to be honest, is not especially nice: a close-up of a girl wearing weird sunglasses is not the kind of thing you expect to see on the screen when opening a DVD player. It would look much better with some abstract design or just the program logo instead. Anyway, configuration settings allow you to customize this interface with skins but there are no skins included. At least you can change the color scheme by clicking on the display.
Power DVD is generally very easy to use. All the buttons on the player panel have tooltips to give you hints about their usage. Also, most of their functions can be performed with the mouse or the keyboard (using the hotkey displayed in the tooltip). When playing a movie in full screen mode, the panel hides automatically and shows only if you move the mouse. Still, you can access all the program's functions through a comprehensive context menu by right-clicking anywhere on the image.
As for the playing functions, the movie flows very smoothly even when you move the window around or play it in full screen mode. Sound can be configured in different ways, depending on your hardware means (from headphones to an 8-speaker surround system) in order to obtain the best possible sound quality. During our tests, we also found some interesting tools: one offers the possibility to change playing speed and therefore obtain slow or fast motion images; another one lets you take snapshots of your favourite scenes in the movie, according to the settings in Configuration – Player – Advanced - Snapshot; and finally a tool called "Say it again" with which you can repeat certain dialogues over and over again. This may be useful for foreign language students or movie fans who like to learn certain script lines by heart.
Power DVD is then a perfect solution for your all DVD playing needs. It may seem quite simple at first sight but after all, you don't need much more apart from "play" and "pause" to happily watch a movie on your PC. And in case you want to know more about the program and their developers, have a look at our interview with Dr. Jau Huang, Cyberlink's founder.