Pros: Plays Blu-ray discs; upscales DVD video
Cons: Expensive; high system requirements
Bottomline: A worthwhile investment for the more serious DVD fan
Any PC with a DVD drive will probably have at least two DVD players already installed on it – the standard Windows Media Player and another player that was bundled with the drive.
It might, therefore, seem a bit pointless spending extra money on another piece of DVD software, but Corel’s WinDVD 9 has a few interesting features that will come in handy for people who regularly watch DVDs on their PC. This latest version adds support for Blu-ray discs, as long as you have a Blu-ray player, as well as the latest Dolby and DTS high-definition audio formats.
HD DVD is also supported, but with Blu-ray’s rival all but dead, Corel has wisely left it out of the product’s name. But perhaps more interesting is the program’s ability to upscale standard-definition DVD films so they approach the quality of high-definition videos.
Ordinarily, you’d need to buy a standalone upscaling DVD player to do this, but WinDVD is one of the first programs we’ve come across that manages to pull off this trick using software alone. We tried the upscaling option with a number of DVD films, and close examination of a series of still-frame captures did show a definite improvement in perceived image quality.
The improvement isn’t so obvious when watching a fast-moving action film, but when the camera lingers on a face or a scene for a second or two you really can see the difference. Movie buffs who watch a lot of movies on their PC may well appreciate this upscaling ability enough to justify the cost of this program (there’s a demo version that you can use to check out the upscaling feature).
And if you don’t need the Blu-ray features you can buy the less expensive WinDVD 9 Plus that just provides upscaling and a saving of about £15.