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  InterVideo WinDVD 5 Platinum review

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For a long time, not only have software DVD players replaced its hardware-decoding counterparts, but two major products have nearly taken over the whole PC market offering the best and most complete solutions for the DVD aficionado.

These two products we are talking about are Cyberlink’s PowerDVD and Intervideo’s WinDVD, both of which have proven to be rich, very often updated solutions, especially in the audio decoding part. Today we are taking a close look to WinDVD 5 Platinum, Intervideo’s flagship product.

WinDVD alone has had a long way since its first versions so you may be asking yourself what’s new in 5.0 and what’s Platinum all about, after all if you have bought any mid to high-end video/audio hardware product in the last few months there is a good chance you got some version of WinDVD bundled with it.

Note: By the time of posting this review, InterVideo went on and released a new version of WinDVD Platinum (6.0). According to what we were told, more than a revolutionary this is more of evolutionary release and most of the information posted here remains valid at least for current new generation of the player (we tested version 5.3 with Audio Booster Pack).

Interface

WinDVD 5 offers a well polished interface, managing to be comprehensive while retaining ease of use and an uncluttered screen. This is mainly thanks to the use of Sub-panels attached to the player window, as in the screenshot below.

These cover everything from Navigation to Time Stretching and can be viewed or hidden at will. Other options are available should you right click on the video window. WinDVD also may operate in docked/undocked modes, meaning that you can dock the player to the player window, as can other available windows, here’s the fully docked display:

Right clicking on the display window also offers access to a lot of features, in most cases it’s probably even quicker to use than the main player is.

 

Features, what’s new and improved

WinDVD 5 Platinum introduces several new features to WinDVD, some of which include:

Smart Stretch. Smart Stretch is a new feature that lets you customize your viewing image by intelligently compensating for the differences in displays & aspect ratios. This non-linear technology minimizes the distortion by only stretching the edges of the video & maintaining the original content in the center portion of the image. Now you can watch your videos with the correct aspect ration regardless of the movie or your display device.

Video Collage. WinDVD now offers several video effects that can be applied to the image in the Video Effect subpanel, though not entirely new, WinDVD 5 adds to ability to use multiple effects simultaneously.

Multiple effects can be applied, with the Intensity & Variation of each adjustable via 2 sliders. The effect can also be previewed in Half-screen before applying them to the Full-screen. These are somewhat akin to the SmartShader effects available with newer ATI Radeon Graphics cards, albeit some are actually useful. To test these out I took several before & after shots in Equilibrium, X-Men 2 and Hulk with difference effects:

 

X-Men 2 original shot

X-Men 2 using Cinema Enhancement effects

Hulk The Movie original shot

Hulk using Movie effects

Equilibrium original shot

Equilibrium using Sharpness & Movie effects

(click to enlarge)

As you can see some of these effects can offer some decent image quality enhancement. That said, these wouldn’t work in conjunction with Hardware Color/Decode Acceleration with pre 4.3 Catalyst Drivers, so you might possibly experience a few performance hitches by using these, depending on your PC specs.

 



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