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Go Back   Blu-ray Forum > Blu-ray > Blu-ray PCs, Laptops, Drives, Media and Software

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Old 06-20-2021, 06:58 AM   #1
HDTV1080P HDTV1080P is offline
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Default Cyberlink PowerDVD 21 Ultra (latest 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray software, user review)

Cyberlink PowerDVD 21 Ultra (latest 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray software for the year 2021 (user review)

On May 20th 2021 the retail boxed version of PowerDVD 21 Ultra was released in retail stores and at various online websites like Amazon. For $99.99 the PowerDVD 21 Ultra retail box contains the software installation on a CD-ROM optical disc, product key, and paper quick start guide. However, the CD-ROM optical disc no longer includes a PDF users manual like some prior versions of PowerDVD Ultra offered. Also, last years PowerDVD 20 Ultra, even though it did not include the PDF user manual on the CD-ROM, one at least had the option to download the PDF manual from the Cyberlink website. I was disappointed that this years PowerDVD 21 Ultra has no PDF manual at all and instead one has to access a online interactive help manual for PowerDVD 21 Ultra everytime one wants to access the manual. If one was traveling with a Notebook computer and they did not always have Internet access, a PDF manual on one’s computer would be ideal, but that is no longer an option with the latest version.

https://help.cyberlink.com/stat/help...enu/index.html

For those that need Blu-ray 3D support they should stick with Cyperlink PowerDVD 19 Ultra since that was the last official version that supports Blu-ray 3D discs. In PowerDVD 20 Ultra Blu-ray 3D support was removed. I see no major changes or improvements that are offered with PowerDVD 21 Ultra unless one wants more cloud options for media streaming and managing files in the cloud. PowerDVD 21 Ultra appears to be slightly faster at loading optical discs when compared to some prior versions of the software. Most consumers that buy PowerDVD 21 Ultra are using the software to play DVD discs and that is one of the main reasons why the player is not called PowerBlu-ray 21 Ultra. Windows 10 does not ship with a software program that can play DVD discs, therefore PowerDVD 21 Ultra is a top of the line software program consumers can purchase for both Blu-ray disc and DVD disc playback (plus audio CD’s are supported).

Cyberlink PowerDVD 21 Ultra is a top of the line media player and currently the only company that supports 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc playback from a PC with HDR10 support (Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+ is not supported from PowerDVD 21 Ultra, and hopefully in the years to come Cyberlink might add more HDR support). Therefore, ones still needs to own a high-end standalone 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player if one wants to play 4K Blu-ray discs that have Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+.

As long as one owns a 4K BD-ROM drive or a standard BD-ROM drive, PowerDVD 21 Ultra is very easy to use. There are more then 1.3 billion devices running Windows 10, and if one has an internal or external BD-ROM drive hooked up to their computer its very easy to play standard Blu-ray discs, DVD discs, and audio CD’s (Blu-ray 3D is no longer supported by the software). However, many modern computers either do not have an optical drive installed or only a DVD-ROM drive is installed. When a DVD-ROM drive is only installed, it limits people to playing only audio CD’s and DVD discs until one purchases a 4K BD-ROM drive or standard BD-ROM drive. It needs to be mentioned that due to the high security hardware based encryption method put in place by the BDA, less then 1% of Windows 10 owners can play native 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. For example, my 2015 computer around six years ago was top of the line with a 4K graphics card that supports HDCP 2.2 and a year 2015 4K computer monitor that also supports HDCP 2.2. However, since the motherboard BIOS and Intel CPU do not support SGX security technology I am unable to play native 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. There is no software solution for SGX security, and the technology is exclusive to Intel, which means zero AMD based motherboards and AMD based CPU’s can play 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. To make matters worse if I was to purchase a top of the line Intel based X299 motherboard, the top of the line Intel based motherboards and most other motherboards lack SGX technology. So, most consumers have given up on playing 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs on a Windows 10 based computer device, and have instead went with a standalone Sony or Panasonic 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player. So to play 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs on my 2015 native 4K Ultra HD computer monitor I have to connect my computer monitor up to an old 2016 standalone OPPO UDP-203 4K Blu-ray player. But my 50 inch 2008 Pioneer Elite PRO-101FD 1080P display monitor has a better picture quality when it comes to motion and deep black levels. The only advantage of the 4K LCD computer monitor is the higher 4K resolution, but the motion is 60Hz 3:2 pulldown with poorer black levels when compared to a plasma or OLED display. In the ideal world someone should make OLED computer monitors with absolute black levels.

Therefore, due to limitations in the equipment I am using, I was not able to get PowerDVD 21 Ultra to play native 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, since my equipment and 99% of everyone else equipment lacks SGX hardware based security technology. However, I can stream 4K Ultra HD movies using the free Windows 10 Netflix app on my computer since streaming does not have the strict SGX hardware security requirements.


That being said playing standard Blu-ray discs, DVD discs, and audio CD’s was almost flawless on my 6 year old desktop computer system. One 7.1 DTS-HD Master audio Blu-ray title during some scenes had distorted sounds when being mixed down to 2.0 PCM stereo and played on my THX certified stereo computer speakers. But this was not noticeable for other Blu-ray titles. Mixing down 7.1 lossless audio tracks to 2.0 PCM by the software might sometimes cause issues. Bitstreaming lossless audio to a A/V receiver is a non-issue since the A/V receiver does the decoding of the audio. Also, I know people with a 14 year old Notebook computer and a BD-ROM drive that are also having no problems with playing standard Blu-ray discs, DVD discs, and audio CD’s while using PowerDVD 21 Ultra. I tested the BD-LIVE function on some Blu-ray discs and it also worked perfectly fine. Scanning forward at 32 times speed and scanning backwards at 16 times speed was nice and smooth and is the maximum scanning speed possible by the program. PowerDVD 21 Ultra just like prior versions of PowerDVD automatically adjusts the graphics card frame rate (Hz) output from the default 60Hz mode to 30Hz (29.97Hz) when playing back material that is 30fps like DVD discs with 3:2 pulldown, and also some BD-LIVE material that was 30fps. Also, the graphics card switched to 24Hz (23.976Hz) when native 1080p/24 material was played from a Blu-ray disc. Since my computer monitor is native 3840 x 2160P with native 60Hz, any 24Hz and 30Hz material gets converted to 60Hz by the computer monitor. But if one hooks up an external display like a Pioneer plasma the native 1080p/24 from the graphics card well be triple flashed to 1080P at 72Hz by the Pioneer plasma display. Or native 2160P/24 at 96Hz if one hooks up a 4K LCOS projector and is able to play 4K Blu-ray discs.

PowerDVD 21 Ultra has an optical disc information screen that shows basic information like the video and audio codec located on the disc, disc resolution, and audio and video bit rates. However, PowerDVD 21 Ultra still does not show the frame rate on the disc and if the source material is interlaced or progressive. Therefore, movie reviewers still need to use the 2016 OPPO UDP-203 Blu-ray player that mentions the native frame rate of the disc and if the image is progressive or interface. Plus the OPPO UDP-203 informs one what the output frame rate and output resolution is. Hopefully a future version of PowerDVD well offer frame rate and progressive/interlace information. Next to the resolution all they need to do is place a letter “I” or a letter “P”. Then have a native Hz info on screen also.

My desktop computer uses a Windows 10 Professional 64 bit operating system. Programs that run in 64 bit mode instead of 32 bit mode are more powerful and faster (that is true 99% of the time as long as the programmer designed the program correctly). Cyberlink PowerDVD 19 Ultra was the very first PowerDVD software program to offer native 64 bit software code for the main program. While its true that PowerDVD 21 Ultra also runs in 64 bit mode, that is only true for the main program and many times PowerDVD 21 Ultra runs in a hybrid 64 bit and 32 bit mode. For example, when playing an audio CD, PowerDVD 21 Ultra runs in 64 bit mode, but when one plays a video from a DVD, or Blu-ray disc, PowerDVD Ultra must access 32 bit software code in order to play that video. In the ideal world when and if Cyberlink makes PowerDVD 22 Ultra for the year 2022, they should rewrite the program so that its 100% 64 bit application code running instead of the hybrid 64 bit and 32 bit code that is currently being used for video. For example, while viewing the “Platform” column under “Details” tab in Windows Task Manager, one gets to see all the 64 bit and 32 bit software programs that are running. As soon as one clicks on the PowerDVD 21 Ultra desktop icon, the main core program called “PowerDVD.exe” well run in 64 bit mode on a 64 bit Windows operating system. Then for a second or two “PowerDVD21Agent.exe” which is also 64 bit well briefly run and then close as soon as “PowerDVDMovie.exe” software is launched automatically. The problem is the “PowerDVDMovie.exe” software is only running in 32 bit mode. While audio CD’s only use the 64 bit “PowerDVD.exe” program, when one wants to play any video based program from a DVD or Blu-ray they are accessing the 32 bit “PowerDVDMovie.exe” software code. Therefore PowerDVD 21 Ultra is not 100% 64 bit and only the main program, therefore it has to always access 32 bit software code in order to play video based material. In the ideal world the next version of PowerDVD 22 Ultra that should be released in 2022, should be re-written so that the “PowerDVDMovie.exe” portion of the software uses 64 bit code instead of 32 bit software code. If that was to occur then the program would no longer be a 64 bit and 32 bit hybrid but 100% 64 bit software program.

If one does not need support for playing back Blu-ray 3D discs, I high highly recommend PowerDVD 21 Ultra. Overall PowerDVD 21 Ultra appears to be a little bit better when compared to PowerDVD 20 Ultra. PowerDVD 21 Ultra (and also versions 17 through 21) is the only Blu-ray software on the market that supports the playback of native 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs (native 4K Blu-ray discs requires special equipment with SGX technology). PowerDVD 21 Ultra is also the best Blu-ray software for a Windows PC for those that own a BD-ROM drive and want to playback standard Blu-ray discs, DVD discs, and audio CD’s.

Last edited by HDTV1080P; 06-20-2021 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 06-20-2021, 11:12 PM   #2
usually_quiet usually_quiet is offline
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The hardware requirements for UHD Bluray playback with PowerDVD Ultra include 7th, 8th, 9th, or 10th gen Intel Core i processors that support SGX and have iGPUs with UHD 620 Graphics (or better). The processor graphics for those Intel processors only support HDR-10 pass-through. For that reason, in order for Cyberlink to add support for other types of HDR for UHD Blu-ray playback, I suspect that Intel would have to add support for them to the iGPUs as well. ...and I don't expect that Intel will choose to do anything to improve HDR support for these older processors.
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Old 09-18-2021, 04:19 AM   #3
BijouMan BijouMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
The hardware requirements for UHD Bluray playback with PowerDVD Ultra include 7th, 8th, 9th, or 10th gen Intel Core i processors that support SGX and have iGPUs with UHD 620 Graphics (or better). The processor graphics for those Intel processors only support HDR-10 pass-through. For that reason, in order for Cyberlink to add support for other types of HDR for UHD Blu-ray playback, I suspect that Intel would have to add support for them to the iGPUs as well. ...and I don't expect that Intel will choose to do anything to improve HDR support for these older processors.
I just want to know why they still insist on using the outdated SGX system. They need to figure out another way since Intel discontinued SGX. My Mac has an Intel processor from the SGX era but Apple disabled it and there is absolutely no way to turn it on, even with Intel's own SGX enabler program. Apple's own Silicon is inherently secure, but Macgo, a tiny little Hong Kongese company who makes Blu-ray player software, told me back in February that they "don’t have any plan to add 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc playback in the future." I thought Hong Kong was wealthy enough to do this and more. And now no new computer owners will be able to enjoy UHD discs. Some laptops now claim to have Dolby Vision... What's the point of having Dolby Vision if you can't play discs... But of course I'm just one person and my words alone aren't powerful enough to get the companies to do something... And it's been like this for a year.

Last edited by BijouMan; 09-19-2021 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 12-26-2021, 06:06 AM   #4
DVD Phreak DVD Phreak is offline
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Does PowerDVD 21 let you adjust brightness and color during 4K Blu-ray playback? I'm using PowerDVD 19 Ultra and 4K BD playback only runs in full screen where you have no access to picture settings. Every time I try to bring up settings I get a message saying playback has to exit first to go to settings.
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