Home theater PC users who felt left out of the UHD/4K revolution when it comes to disc-based playback can rejoice at the release of CyberLink PowerDVD 17 Ultra ($100). This is the first generation of the venerable software playback platform to support Ultra HD Blu-ray, and it is available now.
While there are two other versions of PowerDVD 17 software—Standard ($60) and Pro ($80) only the Ultra version offers UHD Blu-ray compatibility.
Another feature exclusive to the Ultra version is support for VR (virtual reality) including Oculus Rift headsets and controllers. Plus, the Ultra version is a must if you want compatibility with 3D Blu-ray.
As with past versions of the software, CyberLink packs PowerDVD 17 Ultra with a bevy of TrueTheater video “enhancements” that are typically of questionable value. This year, there is a new future called TrueTheater HDR that enhances contrast with SDR content. This sort of effect has grown popular and is included in some of the latest HDR-compatible TVs. Because contrast enhancement can be beneficial when done right, I don’t want to dismiss this feature without seeing it first.
PowerDVD 17 Ultra explicitly supports HDR10 content, which is a necessity for proper Ultra HD Blu-ray playback. However, there is no mention of Dolby Vision, a competing HDR format that features Dynamic metadata and is coming soon to UHD Blu-ray.
This latest iteration of PowerDVD grants users some cool new capabilities when it comes to watching YouTube. Both the Pro and the Ultra version let you pin videos for offline viewing, and the Ultra version also lets you pin YouTube VR content.
The new software is available now from CyberLink.com. In addition to purchasing PowerDVD, the company offers PowerDVD Live, a $45/year—or $15/quarter—subscription service that comes with a license for the Ultra version of the program. Also, upgrades from previous versions of PowerDVD start at $50.