I've always considered YouTube an example of "two steps forward, one step back." Although it has provided a seemingly endless supply of video to keep us entertained, if not informed, it does so with often low quality video at a time when television services around the world have shifted to digital broadcasts offering improved high definition (HD) picture and sound. CyberLink is looking to bridge the divide with its TrueTheater Enhancer software that is designed to give YouTube content a spit and polish.
YouTube itself has recognized that it needs to compete in a high definition world by starting to offer videos in 720p HD quality. But for many users the extra bandwidth required for the higher quality videos remains a hurdle. Although it won't actually improve the resolution of YouTube videos, Cyberlink's TrueTheater Enhancer can adjust video brightness, contrast and saturation to provide a better looking picture.
Since we're not averse to spending a few stolen minutes watching people make fools of themselves, we thought it couldn't hurt to give CyberLink's offering a go. The results, while not earth-shattering, were definitely noticeable.
After installing the software and pointing Internet Explorer (TrueTheater Enhancer only works on Windows PCs running Internet Explorer 7 or 8) to YouTube, users will notice an eye-like icon in the upper right of the video window when hovering the pointer over the video. Clicking on this icon will launch the TrueTheater Enhancer into its own window in which to watch the video. Videos can be viewed in full-screen and there are also buttons to give a split screen view of the video with and without the program's enhancements so you can see just how much difference it makes.
On our tests we found the most noticeable difference was on low quality videos, but HD content also saw an improvement. As promised, the software reduced the "image graying" that is common with online video and there was a reduction in visible jagged edges that comes from playing low quality video at full-screen. The interface allows the user to alter image contrast and sharpness, but we found the default 50 percent settings looked pretty good for most videos.
Although it won't turn watching YouTube into an experience comparable to sitting down in front of a Blu-ray player, CyberLink's TrueTheater Enhancer will definitely improve your YouTube viewing. So, if you're the kind of person that spends hours instead of minutes perusing YouTube, it might be worth shelling out the asking price.
Thankfully, Cyberlink provides a ten-day free trial of the CyberLink TrueTheater Enhancer on its website so you can gauge whether it is worth it for your needs. If it is you'll need to pay US$19.95.
TrueTheater Enhancer only works with YouTube and requires Internet Explorer 7 or 8 on a Windows PC running Windows 7, Vista or XP.