PowerDVD Mobile Review: Media Streaming to a Tablet Made Easy?

by Reads (9,230)

Before I start talking about PowerDVD Mobile and PowerDVD 11 Ultra from CyberLink, let me put this review in context. PowerDVD 11 Ultra is a full PC media suite program, but I specifically tested it out for its DLNA and digital media sharing capabilities between PC, Android, and even DLNA-enabled TVs. PowerDVD Mobile, meanwhile, is a new Android app that functions as both a media player and one of the only means for giving your tablet DLNA capabilities and establishing a connection between it and other devices that have digital media sharing enabled.

In this sense, PowerDVD Mobile is a useful app, and it’s free with a purchase of PowerDVD 11 Ultra (otherwise it’s $20 from the Android Market). The two programs, both of which were given to us by CyberLink for review purposes, are meant to be used in tandem. That being said, PowerDVD 11 Ultra is not actually required to connect your PC and Android tablet running PowerDVD Mobile. PowerDVD Mobile can be used on its own for digital media sharing.

PowerDVD supports the following file types:

  • Video: H.264 (MPEG-4), MPEG-2 PS, MPEG-2 TS, WMV
  • Photo: BMP, JPG, PNG
  • Audio: AAC_ADTS_320 (3GP), AAC_ISO_320 (3GP), LPCM, MP3, WMA

Once you activate DLNA sharing on your Android tablet using PowerDVD Mobile, it can allow access from any media player that has DLNA capabilities, including free ones like Windows Media Player. Buying PowerDVD 11 Ultra – at $94.95, no less – is absolutely not worth it. What it provides as a media player is little more than what you get from free media players, and when it came to using it for DLNA sharing, it was plagued by a poorly designed interface and even a few bugs.

Getting Started
Establishing the connection between my PC, Honeycomb tablet, and TV using the PowerDVD software was, to put it lightly, a pain in the neck, especially given how easy it is with just Windows. Even with the explicit directions to the press from CyberLink regarding how to link the devices using their software, I had a difficult time as it was just not very user-friendly nor was it an obvious setup process.

On the PC side of things, there is a device tab in PowerDVD 11 Ultra that leads you to believe that setting up media sharing is going to be a breeze. It is not, so don’t buy it. Once you go to the device tab, there is a sidebar that lists the devices that are available for sharing. Your tablet will not show up on this list, obviously, until you enable digital media sharing on Mobile, the tablet version of the software. The option to do so on your tablet is not immediately apparent, as it is actually listed under what is indicated as very discrete (literally transparent) information button on the main menu.

Granted, once you do that and the tablet shows up on your PC (and TV) as a device that is capable of sharing media, it’s simple to connect them. Select the tablet and a message pops up on the Android software asking if you want to allow access from another device, and once you give it the okay, you’re ostensibly good to go. There are a few more issues along the way, but more on that later.

Now, one would think that the way you would go about granting access to your computer’s media from your tablet or TV is by going to the settings menu within the PC software. This is not the case. Instead, you have to select a given device from the list on the sidebar, at which point a small button appears next to it. You have to click that button to access digital media sharing options, and this seems like such a hidden, needlessly difficult way to set it up. Why not just have a tab for digital media sharing under the settings menu? It’s a very clumsy and non-intuitive interface.

Time to Stream Some Media… Sort Of
Even once all of the connections were finally established among the three devices, there were still some hiccups, especially on the PC end. The PC version of the software, 11 Ultra, had a very difficult time reading and streaming media from the tablet, always operating at extremely slow speeds and even crashing on a couple of occasions. It also had an odd bug where it initially was able to play a .wav file that was stored on the tablet, but later informed me that this was not a supported file type and it refused to play. Go figure.

My TV had no issue accessing the media files on both my PC and the tablet, though it is worth pointing out that my particular TV also seemed to have trouble with the .wav files. The tablet version, meanwhile, made it easy for me to browse and stream the available media on my PC after I established a connection by accepting an incoming request from the device.

The software seemed to remember certain devices as well, as I turned the tablet and my TV on and off and was still able to reestablish the connection without having to explicitly give permission again. It is a little annoying, however, that when the tablet goes into standby (but is still on) the connection between it and your PC and/or TV is severed. It seems odd that it wouldn’t be designed to continue running in the background.

And the PowerDVD Mobile software on the tablet is about as bare bones as it gets in terms of its media player capabilities. It can display images (and take them, thanks to a camera function) and play music and videos, but beyond that there isn’t anything special going on here. Even the options menu is limited to media sharing options and an information tab, that’s it. While PowerDVD 11 Ultra is a little more fleshed out, you should keep in mind that this is a $95 download. There are plenty of other multimedia players for the PC that can do what PowerDVD 11 does—including establishing a connection to your tablet once PowerDVD Mobile enables its DLNA capabilities—except for free. 

CONCLUSION

For now, PowerDVD 11 Mobile is one of your only options if you want to open up your Android tablet to digital media sharing on a network, and that is a welcome convenience…even if it is a bit of a hassle to set up. Because unfortunately, DLNA capabilities are not embedded into the Android OS like it is on Windows or Mac OS (which is why I am already able to share all of my media among my desktops and TV on my home network without the use of third-party software).

As a media player, and even as a piece of digital media sharing software, PowerDVD 11 Ultra isn’t anything special. My home network and desktop computers are currently set up in such a way that interconnectivity is already established without the need for a clunky piece of software like this, at least not on my PCs. Though you may be led to believe that PowerDVD 11 Ultra is required on the PC side of things to connect to a tablet running Mobile, it’s not. If you’re looking to do some media sharing with your tablet, just get Mobile, skip past 11 Ultra all together, and use a free multimedia player to connect your devices. But at $20, Mobile may not be worth it to some users either, especially considering how barebones it is. So until we see an Android update that allows users to switch digital media sharing on and off, PowerDVD Mobile is an option, but not much more than that.


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