Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Academy Awards 2012: Oscar Winners and Nominees Trivia

The Artist
This year's Academy Awards broke a few records and introduced novelties. Some of them were probably expected and others not so much. Most notably it had never happened before a movie produced by a country different from the United States or the United Kingdom to win the Oscar in the Best Picture category. Well, it happened this year. There were also other interesting developments like the cease of Pixar's domination in the Best Animated Feature Film category. And a few personal achievements contributed to make 2012 Academy Awards a curious event. Here are some of the particular achievements and trivia.

French/Belgian movie The Artist won the Oscar in the Best Motion Picture of the Year category. For the first time, the winning film had not been produced by the US or the UK. Consequently, The Artist became the first French movie to win Best Picture. It also became the film produced by a non-English speaking country winning the most Oscars (5) in a single year. In addition to Best Picture, The Artist also won the Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Costume Design and Best Music Written for Motion Pictures. Finally, the film had received 10 Oscar nominations which equalled Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's record for a foreign movie. Some could say that all these achievements are actually due to the fact that The Artist is a silent movie thus it is not exactly a foreign language film, which makes it more accessible to the American public. On the other hand it has enough non-appealing to the general audience features (silence included).

Something to be expected was Meryl Streep's 17th Oscar nomination. An Academy favorite almost since the dawn of her acting career, she had been nominated for an Academy Award roughly every two years. And not so surprisingly, in addition to breaking her own record for the most acting nominations, Meryl Streep also won the 2012 Oscar in the Best Actress category for The Iron Lady. Now only Katherine Hepburn has more awards than Streep.

Similar to Meryl Streep, Woody Allen broke his own record for the most Oscar nominations in the category of Best Writing (Original Screenplay) with his beautiful film Midnight in Paris. He made them 15. Woody Allen also won the award for the third time, which made him the person with the most Academy Awards in the category.

Canadian actor Christopher Plummer won his first Oscar in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for the movie Beginners (2010). As a result, he became the oldest actor to win in this category and the oldest person (82) to win an Oscar in the entire history of the Academy Awards.

After Pixar's heavy domination in the last decade it was about time for something new in the field of animated films. Pixar movies have been regularly nominated throughout the decade and they won six Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film since 2004 including 4 consecutive Oscars for Toy Story 3 (2010), Up (2009), WALL·E (2008), Ratatouille (2007) in the past 4 years. This year they did not win (Industrial Light & Magic's Rango did). Actually, Pixar hadn't even been nominated. Let's hope it will motivate them to make a better animated film in 2012.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

War Horse (2011): Of Men and Horses

War Horse
Steven Spielberg has done World War II movies a lot but War Horse is his first World War I movie. It is peculiar in a lot of ways. For one, it is a war movie rated PG-13 (and distributed by Disney). Not that it is not occasionally brutal. War Horse also has a rather unusual protagonist: this World War I tale is told through the eyes of the horse Joey. It is a somewhat convoluted story centered on his wartime woes. Human characters come and go; Joey changes English, German and French masters. Interestingly, Joey's feats are mostly simple and the focus is on survival rather than heroics.

This is also a traditional movie in a lot of ways. It is romanticized and sentimental. This sentimentality often shows in Spielberg movies but here it is taking center stage. In a traditional fashion, Germans and French speak English amongst themselves with the corresponding stereotypical accents. The music score of veteran composer John Williams is traditional to the point of coming through as generic. Cinematography is also old school in manipulating reality, no matter if its Devon's meadows, French forests or the mud of the Somme.

In this thirteenth collaboration between Spielberg and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski both England's warm rural landscapes and the foggy war views are beautifully rendered. The latter are almost too beautiful. Spielberg has always been a master of storytelling with the camera. And War Horse doesn't disappoint here. It is invariably technically impressive. Cinema buffs will delight in the numerous clever shots throughout the movie. One can argue that cinematography is the film's best merit. This, or the amazing lack of CGI in the numerous horse stunts involving Joey (five horses played him; each one specialized in specific skills).

War Horse is also occasionally whimsical. Which is not surprising when your main protagonist is a horse. It is hard to rein a story like that. (See what I did there.) But in fact, these whimsical moments are amongst the movie's best. In particular, Joey's wild gallop through the trenches at the Somme and a consequent surreal scene in No man's land. On the other hand, the final scene may be a bit too blunt with its color choice.

War Horse wastes no time in establishing human characters other than the boy who raised Joey and his family. This helps to keep the pace going. But also effectively turns everyone else into passing figures. Which is both good and bad. Good, because it reinforces the feeling of passing through war and leaving people behind. Bad, because the audience has little time to relate with Joey's masters which strengthens the sense of a somewhat messy narrative.

It is easy to recommend War Horse for its visuals and technical competence. But some viewers may find it overly sentimental, while others may find the story of a horse and a boy getting separated lacking. I certainly would not think it worthy of a Best Picture Oscar nomination but apparently the Academy thought otherwise.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

(3D) Blu-ray Player Software for Windows: 2012 Reviews

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CyberLink PowerDVD 12 Ultra
TotalMedia Theatre 5
Corel WinDVD Pro 11
Nero 11 Platinum
1. Introduction, shared features and limitations (this page)
2. CyberLink PowerDVD 12 Ultra Review
3. ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 Review
4. Corel WinDVD Pro 11, Nero 11 Platinum and Roxio CinePlayer with 3D Reviews
5. Comparison table, overall impressions and conclusion

Here is the new installment in our traditional Windows Blu-ray player software reviews. There's been quite some development in the field since our 2011's comparison. But first things first. Nope, the year may be 2012 (and the end of the world approaching) but there are still no free Windows Blu-ray players. As explained before this mostly comes down to patents and licenses. Licensing Blu-ray technology costs money, which makes it an unlikely proposition for free media players. Laptops which feature BD drives sometimes come with OEM versions of one of the software movie players described here. But OEM versions are often lacking features and they are not updated as regularly as the retail versions of any Blu-ray / DVD player software package.

Since last year Roxio stopped offering Blu-ray playback in their CinePlayer with 3D although it's apparently still marketed as a 3D player. We don't know the exact reason behind this move but it's probably something related to licensing again. And then Corel bought Roxio altogether. So currently there are just four commercial software packages for Windows supporting BD playback. These are CyberLink's PowerDVD 12 Ultra, ArcSoft's TotalMedia Theatre 5, Corel's WinDVD Pro 11 and Nero 11 Platinum. Some of these manufacturers sell also low-end packages offering cheaper video playing software with restricted functionality (like CyberLink's PowerDVD 12 Pro or PowerDVD 12 Standard), but for Bluray disc playback you will always have to purchase the high-end edition. Note that sometimes we will shorten or abbreviate the name of the reviewed 3D Blu-ray player software package but in all instances we will refer to the highest-end version, e.g., PowerDVD will stand for PowerDVD 12 Ultra. Since Nero have disabled BD playback in their trial version and it's more of an add-on anyway, Nero Platinum 11 is included mainly for completeness rather than being actually tested.

Before we delve into the individual Blu-ray player reviews, here are some of the features and restrictions PowerDVD 12 Ultra, TotalMedia Theatre 5 and WinDVD Pro 11 share in common. All of these Windows media players:
  • Run on Microsoft Windows 7, Windows XP (with Service Pack 3) and Windows Vista.
  • Are capable of Blu-ray 3D playback.
  • Offer support of HDMI 1.4.
  • Can convert 2D video to 3D.
  • Achieve very high picture quality during BD playback and any distinctions among the video players are practically impalpable on a full HD display. (But this is not exactly the case in regard to upscaling standard definition content or any other content of lower resolution to high definition displays.)
  • Support hardware acceleration. This means that decoding calculations are done on the graphics hardware, which enables HD video playback on systems having slow CPUs. Note that hardware acceleration will disable some video processing features because it relegates work to the graphics card driver.
  • Work with DTS-HD audio and Dolby TrueHD audio.
  • Upscale standard definition / low res video files and DVDs to full HD.
  • Support AVCHD video playback. AVCHD is currently the most popular HD video format for video enabled photo cameras and consumer camcorders.
  • Offer Remote Control support.
  • Enforce content protection and will disable frame capture and clip capture (if applicable) from BDs. Other functions may also be disabled when playing content protected 2D or 3D Blu-ray discs.
  • Support player profile 2.0 of BD-Live.
  • Allow for several changes of the Blu-ray region code setting (usually limited to 5) inside the BD player software. Not writing the region setting directly in the drive itself uncovers a nice opportunity for turning your PC into a region free Blu-ray player: Windows 7, XP or Vista, two or three different bluray playback software packages and just one BD drive on your computer will do the trick.

Our (3D) Blu-ray player software reviews continue with CyberLink PowerDVD 12 Ultra.

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CyberLink PowerDVD 12 Ultra Review: Blu-ray, DVD & Media Player

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CyberLink's PowerDVD is the oldest media player in this pack. It is also the first that introduced Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D playback. The current version is the freshly released PowerDVD 12.

In the new edition of their 3D Blu-ray player software, CyberLink have diminished the significance of the monikers TrueTheater HD and TrueTheater 3D for the corresponding upscaling and 2D to 3D converting parts of their video processing engine. In PowerDVD 12 they simply call the whole engine TrueTheater Effects. It is only available when hardware acceleration is disabled though as acceleration relies on the video card driver which is not entirely controlled by the software. TrueTheater Effects offer three notable new features. All of these are pretty nice to have for homemade videos, but we don't recommend them turned on for movies.

PowerDVD 12 Ultra

First, there is frame rate smoothing which interpolates frames to increase apparent smoothness in movement. This is pretty nice for video, especially home videos, but don't ever turn it on for movies unless you want to make them look like TV. Cinema is shot in 24 frames per second, which induces the strobing effect in object movement and camera pans. Some people call it the dream effect. No reason for anyone to want to get rid of it in a movie, so, again, only use this for home videos. Next, there is a video stabilizer, which attempts to decrease image shaking from handheld cameras. Note that it will cut the borders of the video in order to manage a stable core. Last, there is a denoiser to strip videos from noise. Again, nice for home video, but don't use on movies or you will remove filmic grain from the image.

For some time now CyberLink have put focus on online features. Since version 10 PowerDVD integrates MoovieLive, CyberLink's online movie database and community portal. Initially somewhat lacking in content, this service is now more richly populated. The integration allows the user to post ratings and reviews online and to get context information related to the currently watched movie. There is also a counter taking track how many times a movie has been watched globally. This includes all PowerDVD users and is essentially serving as a popularity rating amongst the PowerDVD community. The Live Comments feature enables status updates to Twitter, Facebook and MoovieLive from within PowerDVD. It is probably most appropriate to use with Twitter as it is closely related to the Twitter paradigm. And for the purists, there are options to turn all these online features off. Publishing to YouTube has been streamlined and you can now publish videos to Facebook. YouTube support has been extended to include 3D videos as well as 2D to 3D conversion for YouTube videos. 2D to 3D support has been made universal, now being extended to Blu-ray playback too. The new version also integrates support for the online music store 7Digital, a DRM free music store with a huge selection of tracks and, coincidentally, our music store of choice. (7Digital integration is supported in selected countries initially; US, UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, to be precise.)

CyberLink PowerDVD 12 Ultra
As expected, PowerDVD 12 can be integrated with Windows Media Center. In this case it launches a minimalistic interface (the so called Cinema mode), which blends beautifully with WMC. This interface mode is simple, clean and designed to be friendly to remote control use, but nevertheless includes most features of the Classic mode (except files playback). Cinema mode can also be toggled on through an icon in the standard Classic mode interface. The Classic mode itself has been polished and now looks slicker. The media browser also got some new toys and now can rearrange and scale thumbnails. Scaling also extends to actual playback allowing for real time video zoom in and zoom out.

In another move towards integration PowerDVD can now work and cooperate with various devices. Android and iOS devices (smartphones, tablets) can be used as remote controls for PowerDVD 12. Media files and playlists can be synced with Android and Blackberry devices. Syncing will also take care of any format conversions necessary if the mobile device does not support the source format. PowerDVD can also act as both DLNA server and DLNA client and stream from and to devices connected to the home network. Intel WiDi is also supported for wireless streaming to TVs (Blu-ray playback included).

PowerDVD has always been in the forefront amongst commercial video players in terms of format support. Now in a welcome addition there is support for OGG and FLAC audio files (about time, we may say). The new Matroska 3D format MK3D is also supported. And new is support for DTS-HD 7.1 sound from Blu-ray discs. PowerDVD 12 Ultra can now also play from Blu-ray folders, a feature which was previously unique to ArcSoft's TotalMedia Theatre. An interesting move toward strengthening its status of a universal media player is the support for various picture RAW file formats from advanced photo cameras. Photo enthusiasts will probably enjoy this.

Follow the link to check for a current CyberLink coupon code.

Our 2012 Blu-ray player software reviews continue with ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5.

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ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 Review: Another All-in-One Media Player

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(...continues from Page 2: CyberLink PowerDVD 12 Ultra Review)

ArcSoft haven't released a new major version of TotalMedia Theatre for more than a year so this part of our 2012 Blu-ray player reviews will partially retell some stuff from last year's article. TMT 5 got some updates during that time though, with optimizations, bug fixes and even some features, so we will cover that.

TotalMedia Theatre 5 was a major update since TMT 3 (version 4 was skipped, thus showing the big leap from version 3). With TMT5 ArcSoft got rid of the multiple editions like Standard, Gold and Platinum and went with just TotalMedia Theatre 5. The others should do well to follow this and unify their offers. The most important addition to TMT 5 was the support of Blu-ray 3D. The Sim3D engine, which is doing the conversions from 2D to 3D, was improved and optimized. After the latest updates the upscaling engine SimHD now includes support for OpenCL on AMD graphics cards (NVIDIA's parallel computing architecture CUDA was already previously supported on NVIDIA hardware). And similar to CyberLink's TrueTheater Effects engine, SimHD includes video post-processing features like noise reduction and framerate smoothing.

ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5

ArcSoft have been carefully watching CyberLink's love affair with the Internet. Their online venture though is in a slightly different direction and is mostly focused on YouTube. TotalMedia Theatre 5 can serve as a YouTube browser and player. It allows searches for particular videos and access to the Most Popular and Featured channels. The user can also link and share the currently playing YouTube video to their profile on Facebook.

The user interface of TotalMedia Theatre also got more minimalistic and slicker, and thus feels more streamlined. An elegant interactive grid of thumbnails called Magic View (check the screenshot), which is essentially a very nice media browser, allows browsing all the video lists: user playlists, UPnP media servers, YouTube, the library. You can preview media directly on the grid. A beautiful feature that can also be switched off if you get dizzy by awesomeness like this. There is a Smart Menu feature simulating the pop-up menu of BD movies for DVDs and video files. It enables the user to bookmark scenes or search in IMDB for information about a particular movie in addition to the usual subtitles, audio and chapters options. The integration with Windows Media Center is also improved. It is abundant of features and trouble free.

TotalMedia Theatre 5 added support for various file formats, most notably FLAC, WTV and AVCHD 3D, making it a pretty decent dedicated media player. It also has a pretty extensive and useful subtitles system with manual subtitles selection for video files (unlike PowerDVD's auto subtitles) and What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get positioning of the subtitles. It was also the first Blu-ray player software to include BDMV support (playback from Blu-ray folders). The latest updates have also added various improvements for MKV playback: audio bitstreaming, chapters support, SRT and VobSub subtitles from the container, plus multiple audio tracks support. A notable unique feature of TMT deserving mention is the support for HD DVD. If you happen to have guessed wrong during the format wars and have an HD DVD collection then TotalMedia Theatre should obviously be your player of choice.

A cool recent addition to TMT 5 is the ability to temporarily switch the display's refresh rate to match the frame rate of the video source. This means that if your display has 24hz support TotalMedia Theatre will automatically play Blu-ray discs (and 23.976 fps files) in 24p. Pretty neat. Similarly to CyberLink, ArcSoft have also released Android and iOS apps, which turn mobile devices into remotes for TMT.

One minor annoyance with ArcSoft's video player which keeps presenting itself version after version is the need to reboot Windows in order to finish off the installation of TotalMedia Theatre 5. Yes, you do this once and it is certainly not a big deal, but, hello, this is 2012 and that's a thing you don't endure with neither PowerDVD, nor WinDVD.

Check the link for an active ArcSoft coupon.

Our Blu-ray player software reviews continue with Corel WinDVD Pro 11, Nero 11 Platinum and Roxio CinePlayer with 3D.

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Corel WinDVD Pro 11, Nero 11 Platinum, Roxio CinePlayer with 3D Review

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(...continues from Page 3: ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 Review)

Corel WinDVD Pro 11

Corel have released a new version of their Windows media player WinDVD since our previous Blu-ray player reviews. The company still offers two variants of video playing software: WinDVD 11 and WinDVD Pro 11, with Blu-ray and 3D support only available in the Pro edition.

Corel's WinDVD lacks some of the bells and whistles of PowerDVD and TotalMedia Theatre but Corel have apparently made a serious effort with this version. WinDVD Pro 11 can now convert 2D to 3D and has updated and optimized 3D support. The processing engine has been improved with video stabilization and framerate smoothing. Both have some problems though. Smoothing introduces some weird artefacts, probably interpolation related, most noticeable around patterns in moving shots. Stabilization occasionally creates lateral jumps in the picture with the default lateral stabilization setting. WinDVD 11 also adds support for MKV, MP4 and FLV formats and for playlists.

WinDVD Pro 11

Corel now have their own online service FlixFinder, which is integrated in WinDVD. It does meta searches in movie streaming services. Currently these include Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. This allows to compare prices, select the best price and watch the movie immediately.

New users are taken care of with in-software Starter Guide, video tutorials and links to a dedicated Vimeo channel. It seems with this version of WinDVD Corel have also tried more aggressively to gain market share. The list price has been lowered to $79.99 and a free copy of WinZip Pro is added as a bonus at the time of writing of this review in the beginning of 2012. The boxed version also includes a pair of 3D glasses.

Other notable features of WinDVD Pro 11 include: uncluttered and clean interface; multitude of power management options for battery control on notebooks; a time-stretch function to squeeze in the end of the movie you're watching in limited time situations; PAL TruSpeed - an option to play sped up 24-to-25 fps PAL videos at their true speed with automatic correction of audio pitch; parental control; clip capture.

Nero 11 Platinum / Nero Kwik Blu-ray

Nero used to offer a Blu-ray playback plug-in for some of their applications. Things are much more simple now: in order to get BD support you need their flagship application suite Nero 11 Platinum. The suite includes Nero Kwik Media for media browsing, sharing on Facebook and syncing with Android devices, Nero Video for basic video editing, Nero Burning Rom for burning discs (including Blu-ray discs), Nero Recode for transcoding various media formats and ripping DVD discs, Nero BackItUp for files backup.

BD playback here should really be thought of as a bonus. That is, you should be getting Nero for their other applications and not for the BD playback alone. Nero doesn't support 3D (including Blu-ray 3D), nor does it support any HD audio formats. Also, note that Blu-ray playback is not included in the free trial so you are not able to test it before buying.

To confirm the trend of frequent changes in the Blu-ray software world, a new option for BD playback appeared just before publishing this article. It seems that now Nero 11, Nero Multimedia Suite 10 Essentials, Nero Video 11 and Nero Kwik Media can also play Blu-ray movies with the additional purchase of Nero Kwik Blu-ray. You can check this opportunity directly in Nero's store cause it seems there is not detailed information about Nero Kwik Blu-ray at the time of this writing. Our advice to think of Nero's Blu-ray disc playback only as an added bonus to other Nero's applications remains. But if you plan to buy one of the mentioned Nero products or already own one of them you can consider getting Nero's BD software player too cause the price for this addition won't be too high. Even if it's not as good as its competitors and you decide to buy a better video player you can still use Nero's as an option for playing Blu-rays with region codes different than your regular discs.

Roxio CinePlayer with 3D

This paragraph is here to inform that Roxio's CinePlayer that used to be a 3D Blu-ray player is currently only a 3D player. We don't know exactly why Roxio do not offer support for BD playback in their CinePlayer anymore but it could do something with the fact that Corel has recently bought Roxio. There is still 3D video support in CinePlayer with 3D, as the name suggests, so if you happen to be just after a cheap 3D video player and don't care for the lack of Blu-ray playback support too much (although why would you be reading an article comparing Blu-ray player software then?), this inexpensive video playing program may actually be a good option. Also have in mind that Roxio CinePlayer offers RealD 3D support so it is a possible choice if you are looking for cheap RealD 3D player software too.

To look for available discounts of WinDVD or Nero's products check here.

Let's complete our 2012 reviews of Blu-ray playback software with comparison table and conclusion.

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Blu-ray Software Player Reviews 2012: Comparison and Conclusion

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Comparison and general impressions

Performance was once again tested on the computer system we used for our 2011's Blu-ray player reviews. It is equipped with Intel i5-430m CPU, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 graphics video card, 4GB DDR3 RAM and MS Windows 7 OS. We actually used the same disc for the 2012's tests, so the result can be compared with last year's (bear in mind that some error of measurement surely exists).

CPU load19.0%6.6%11.2%
Loading times24:12s9:13s9:28s
Upscale to HDYesYesYes
2D to 3DYesYesYes
Blu-ray 3DYesYesYes
WMC integrationYesYesNo
HDMI 1.4YesYesYes
Time stretchYesYesYes
Online featuresLotsSomeSome
.mkv supportYesYesYes
FLAC supportYesYesNo
Blu-ray foldersYesYesNo
Mobile remoteYesYesNo
Free trialYesYesYes
Built-in updates checkYesYesYes

1. Average CPU load during playback of MPEG-4 AVC stream with hardware acceleration on.
2. Average BD loading times based on 5 measurements with each Blu-ray software player.
3. Regular price; various promos or discounts may apply.

Blu-ray playback quality is good with all three players. Image quality is indistinguishable between them due to decoding being done by the graphics card driver.

Funnily, the problem with WinDVD we mentioned last year manifested itself again. At some point during testing WinDVD refused to run in full HD resolution and started requesting a change to lower screen resolution on startup, then quitting. From then on, this happened on each and every start of WinDVD when there was a Blu-ray disc inserted in the Blu-ray drive. TotalMedia Theatre has obviously been polished in the updates following the initial release of version 5 because there weren't any glitches whatsoever this time around. The table even shows some small performance increase, probably due to optimizations. PowerDVD got a major version update recently and this shows in occasional slight lag in the options menu. No crashes or apparent bugs though. On top of smooth playback PowerDVD 12 Ultra impressively does quick fast forwarding (also on Blu-rays) most notable when dragging the movie playback position on the timeline. None of the others can boast about that. It is worth mentioning that PowerDVD and TMT tend to get updated more often than WinDVD, which may result in fewer problems (if any) with newer Blu-ray discs.

In terms of upscaling PowerDVD still looks most pleasing when software upscaling is used. It is a bit subjective, but to these eyes here this is the case. So if you watch a lot of DVDs or standard definition files it is probably best to get PowerDVD 12 Ultra. With hardware acceleration enabled the differences between all of the software Blu-ray players vanish and as already mentioned it is better to have any post-processing options in the video card driver's control panel disabled. Image "enhancements" like oversharpened picture, plasticky faces or edge enhancement may appear otherwise.


It is once again a tough call between CyberLink's PowerDVD and ArcSoft's TotalMedia Theatre. On the other hand, things are simple: both are pretty good, so you can't go wrong with either. Nevertheless, we can safely recommend PowerDVD 12 to online addicts or people who like to have lots of features available, and TotalMedia Theatre 5 to the purists or anyone who finds PowerDVD's online expansion bloated. Everyone else will most likely do fine with either of them, but if you can't make a choice yet better have another look at the dedicated paragraphs: maybe there is something you've overlooked in our reviews which can help choosing the best Blu-ray player software for your particular needs. For users whose main consideration is price, Corel's WinDVD Pro 11 may be a solution although it's not considerably cheaper than its competitors and it's not as inexpensive as last year's cheapest offering in the face of the retired Roxio CinePlayer BD with 3D.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Effects of Listening to Music on Our Body

This is a guest article sent to us by an anonymous user.

There is nothing like listening to good old music to calm your nerves or to get you in an even more elated state than you already are in some of the most happiest moments of your life. Turning to music is one of the most primitive reactions of an average person.

No one is alien to the fact, that when we feel down or saddened, our feelings are most soothed by listening to slow, soft music which usually is written on a sad note. Similarly when excited or in a party, our body craves to move on rhythmic beats accompanied by loud music. And it is therefore no wonder that romantic movies are best accompanied by some of the most popular love lyrics.

But this is a craving exhibited by our body that knows no scientific laws and is therefore part of the most innate natures of mankind. Now, however, when science sees no limits when exploring in new aspects of the human brain and mind, research has unravelled the mysteries of how music really affects the brain and its psyche. So buckle up to find the true ways of how music affects our body.

A new branch of health care, known as Music Therapy has been evolved after research confirmed that not only does music affect the brain's cognitive functions, it can even be used for therapeutic purposes in patients suffering from chronic to general ailments. So far experts have used Music therapy to help kids suffering from ADD, patients going through painful recovery, patients suffering from mild to chronic depression, those whose bodies are showing restricted movements and even cancer patients.

Music can have a varying effect on different people and is therefore varyingly used by experts on these patients. To help understand better, let's look at what are the different effects music has on the human body.

The Effects on Brain
The beat of the music can actually stimulate the waves in the brain in sync with the music beat. So that the relatively faster beats, can instigate sharper thinking modes and similarly slow music can promote calmness in the brain. This ability of the music can be used to a great advantage. For instance, the brain could be stimulated to a state with the help of the music and it is going to stay there for a long time after the music has stopped.

The Effects on the Heart and Breathing
Just as the brain waves are stimulated with the help of the music, other bodily functions are also affected by listening to different sorts of music. The autonomic nervous system in the body can bring about a few changes of its own when a person listens to music. Some of the changes that it can bring are reduced rate of breathing and reduced heart rate bringing about a totally relaxed bodily response. Therefore, listening to soothing music can relieve stress.

Miscellaneous Effects
Some of the other effects that have been revealed through research and experimentation are a positive state of mind, lowered blood pressure and a general reduction in the risk of some heart diseases.