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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.
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.