The retail version of Cyberlink PowerDVD includes the codecs needed to play all video formats. The trial version, however, lacks H.264 and VC-1 codecs, preventing some computers from playing high-definition or Blu-ray video. If your computer doesn't have a video card capable of rendering hardware-accelerated graphics, you must install the missing codecs before playing some video files.

Install a Video Codec Pack

Many software publishers offer a free codec pack that includes the files necessary to play H.264 and VC-1 video. The H.264 codec enables you to play a wide range of video files, including AVI, MP4, M4V, MKV and Blu-ray discs. The VC-1 codec is less common but also enables Blu-ray and high-definition video playback. To install these codecs, visit a website such as CNET, Windows 8 Codecs or Shark 007 to download a free codec pack (links in Resources). Each of these codec packs makes Cyberlink PowerDVD compatible with H.264 and VC-1 video, but Shark 007 includes additional features, such as thumbnail previews integrated into Windows File Explorer and a comprehensive settings menu.

Upgrade Cyberlink PowerDVD

Cyberlink offers Ultra, Pro and Standard versions of PowerDVD, each including H.264 and VC-1 codecs. The Ultra and Pro versions are also capable of emulating a Blu-ray player, although the playback may not be as smooth as that of a hardware player since your computer processor bears a heavy workload during emulation. Visit the Cyberlink website for upgrade and pricing information (link in Resources).