InterVideo WinDVD 7 Platinum

Quick look

DVD Playback Software

Price: $69 (a less feature-rich edition goes for $49)

Web: www.intervideo.com

Phone: (510) 651-0888

Full disclosure: I rarely watch DVDs on a desktop PC. Why would I? If I'm at work, I shouldn't (and can't); if I'm at home I've got a nice entertainment system laid out in front of a comfortable couch.

But I do watch DVDs on a widescreen notebook when I travel. I have no idea what preloaded software I use to watch movies, but it works and I know Windows Media could handle the job if it didn't. So it was with healthy skepticism that I loaded the new WinDVD 7 Platinum playback software from InterVideo Inc. of Fremont, Calif., to see if it's worth dropping $69 to use a full-featured product.

WinDVD 7 is loaded. Anyone who wants granular control over DVD playback could noodle with it all day. The interface is exceptionally easy to navigate and the audio-video quality is, for the most part, very good. The company recommends a 500-MHz Pentium III or higher for basic playback.

I came away with three favorite features. First and foremost is the program's IVI Headphone feature, which nicely simulates surround-sound audio even on cheap headphones (like mine).

Second, I became a fan of the software's Time Stretching feature, which lets you cram a DVD viewing into your schedule.

Finally, I was attracted to the program's mobile technology features, which take advantage of new notebook processors to extend battery life.

Would I pay $69 for WinDVD Platinum? Probably not. I tried out the Quick Clips feature that allows users to capture 30-second movie clips but couldn't see a good use for it. And the software's TrimensionDNM feature, which is supposed to ensure smooth playback of fast-moving scenes, made scenes look choppy.

Ultimately, I just don't need a program with this many bells and whistles to watch movies. That said, however, this is the best DVD playback software I've used. People who want more control won't be disappointed.

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