Technology should make our lives easier
• Very good picture and audio quality
• Excellent capture functionality
• Hand ybookmark features
• User interface isn’t the best
• Limited range of features
Corel WinDVD Pro 12 looks nice and offers good quality picture and audio.
Corel has been around for ages so we were interested to review this latest version of WinDVD to see how it compared to the current competition.
Corel WinDVD Pro 12 has a standard installer which starts with terms approval screen and file location selection. The disc Region is also selected at this time. The install is then a little slow but we had no problems. Final options before the install completes covers file type association (for video and audio files). Finally you need to register the product before being able to open the program.
Once the program is installed there is a Setup menu available, but the link isn’t obvious. You need to right-click in the viewing area and click the setup link on the list there to get access to preferences such as Auto resume and Full screen settings, as well as Playback control and some core Audio/Visual setup options (with the rest under the easy to find Tools > Enhancements button).
The program when it opens looks good, floating in a nicely designed window, with 4 clear buttons at the top for Open, Tools, DVD and Eject.
When you hit the Open button you get 3 options for Optical Drive, File and Folder, all of which are just shortcuts to the actual Open page where the 3 are listed again (in a different order), expanding the option you’ve chosen. Also having 2 separate options for File and Folder is a little weird as they could easily have been combined. File navigation worked okay but visually was a little basic.
The Tools button also gives you 3 options for Bookmarks, Capture and Enhancements. The Bookmarks option allows you to easily set your own Bookmarks for videos to allow you to quickly jump to your favorite bits. You can also import and export your bookmarks in XML format. Capture allows you to take screenshots from the video (saved as .BMP), or record little clips (saved as animated .GIF) which you can then email out directly from the program. Enhancements are basically your settings menu. It allows you to configure your playback device, select audio set up, DSP and audio effects. You can edit the Color settings to match the output device (e.g. LCD, Projector etc), as well as adjust Brightness, Contrast, Hue, Color and GAMMA. You also have Video enhancements covering areas such as De-noise and De-interlace. The most useful option we found was the All2HD feature which when selected distinctly improved the image quality of non-HD discs. You also have options for Time Stretch, where you can change the playback speed in small increments. You are also able to set a time when you want to finish the film, with the playback speed then adjusted to fit your availability. This might be useful if you’ve got 1h 30m to watch a film that’s 1h 45m long, but anything faster just looks comical. Better to just set a bookmark and come back another time to complete the movie.
The DVD option gives you disc information such as Title and Chapter and links to the Title and Root menus (as applicable). User experience
Video quality was generally very good, being improved further if you turned on All2HD. Audio was also very good when using DVD-Video or AVCHD with movie theater quality Dolby Digital® audio available.
The main controls (play, fast forward, rewind etc) at the bottom of the screen were fine, and everything worked as you’d expect. However, whilst the user-interface looks good but we did find a few niggles when using the menus. The need to go full screen on some menus, as otherwise not all of the options were visible, was a little annoying and we didn’t feel that the menu controls themselves were the nicest to use. We also had mixed results from the auto-play using the optical drive. The disc region wasn’t always correctly recognized, and sometimes when it was the Windows auto-play options beat Corel WinDVD to the punch, rather negating that feature. So generally all the key controls were nice and clear and easy to use, the settings menus isn’t ideal for general desktop use as it feels like it’s more designed for if you’re using a Windows® 7 touch-screen (which is supported).
Built into the software is the Corel Guide, which offers a Help file which clearly covers all you need to know about how to use the software. We found this very informative and would recommend this as your first port of call. Corel also have a good online support center, covering Ordering and Install as well as Tutorials on certain functionality. Whilst these were actually for the previous version they were still useful. There is also a knowledge base (under the Self-help button). There is also free telephone, live chat and phone support available but this is limited to installation and getting up and running only (and you need to be registered and logged into the website to access that). Beyond that there are paid support packages available.
Corel WinDVD Pro 12 performed pretty well covering the basics. It is a little limited in terms of features and functionality and Corel also offer a Pro Edition (which has more features and Blu-ray support) so we’d recommend looking at that before purchasing.
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