PowerDVD 12 -- it's the big upgrade you've been waiting for

CyberLink has today released the latest version of its flagship media player, PowerDVD 12 -- and the build sees major steps forward in the formats it can handle, and the way the program works with mobile devices, social media and more.

PowerDVD 12 now supports playing back all the main video formats, for instance, including MK3D, MKV (H.264), FLV (H.264), WTV, 3GP and 3G2. A new focus on audio means the program can also handle cinematic quality and lossless sound formats: DTS-HD 7.1, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, OGG, FLAC and more. And PowerDVD’s old ability to view your digital photos is now extended by native RAW format support.

There’s obviously not quite so much room to develop with DVD and Blu-ray playback, so the only major change here is to CyberLink’s TrueTheater technology. As well as upscaling videos to HD quality, removing noise, stabilizing shaky videos, enhancing details and colors, the software can now convert all 2D media to 3D: that’s Blu-rays, DVDs, videos and photos.

PowerDVD 12 also includes enhanced DLNA support, so it’s much better at streaming media around your home. Social media improvements mean you’re able to connect to and browse YouTube, Facebook and Flickr content from within the program. And enhanced mobile device support sees you able to stream content to your iPhone, iPad or Android devices, while a comprehensive Sync module makes it easy to set up detailed rules deciding how media should be synchronised with your Android device.

There’s no shortage of power, then, but to keep things straightforward you’re able to access most of your content via a simple tree and a thumbnail browser. You can access your media library via several different views -- grid, album, list -- to help you keep control, and smart search tools make it generally easy to locate the content you need.

And if for some reason you still don’t have all the media you’d like, the company hopes you’ll rectify this by shopping at PowerDVD’s integrated CyberLink/ 7digital music store, where over 17 million 320K DRM-free tracks await your attention (as long as you’re in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy or Spain, anyway). Buy here and you’ll be able to store your music in the cloud where it can be accessed from anywhere, by up to 5 devices.

As previously, PowerDVD 12 is available in three editions.

The first, PowerDVD 12 Ultra, is the high-end build which includes everything we’d mentioned here, and is available for $99.95.

PowerDVD 12 Pro omits the mobile device apps, and the new DLNA Digital Media Renderer and Controller. You’ll still get a DLNA-compliant player and server, though, so this could be the sensible choice at $79.95.

And PowerDVD 12 Standard goes much further, also omitting Blu-ray and 3D playback, TrueTheater’s “convert anything to 3D” option, Android Sync, the DLNA Media Server, and HD Audio (TrueHD 5.1 and DTS-HD 5.1): list price is $49.95.

The Standard version is a little too stripped-down for our liking, but take your pick: there’s a trial version available, so see how it works for you.

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