Do you use all the special features that come with most DVDs? I wonder how much consumers are paying for all those extra features that, in many cases, they can't use. My kids get annoyed when they click a special enhancement after watching a movie on the home theater system only to find that they need to take the DVD to a computer to view the "DVD-ROM-only" special features; rarely are they interested enough to do so. Most DVDs now come in special editions, which include extra material that in many cases is trite and boring. Personally, I'd take a price break on the cost of a DVD over a director's commentary almost any time (although Mel Brooks' commentary on the Blazing Saddles DVD is worth the cost of the DVD).

On a related note, I've talked about software DVD players in this column, and although new versions have arrived, they offer few compelling features. The exception is CyberLink PowerDVD XP 4.0, which has that one must-have feature for the road warrior DVD user: The player remembers where you stopped the disc. The feature lets you stop play and shut down the notebook, then finish watching the film later, without having to work your way through the DVD menus to find where you left off. PowerDVD XP 4.0 is worth its price for this feature alone. CyberLink added other useful audio- and video-presentation features; the headphone options produce noticeable differences in movie sound quality.

You can download PowerDVD XP 4.0 at the URL below. If you're a current PowerDVD user, the upgrade is well worth the price. If you use bundled DVD player software, get PowerDVD XP 4.0. You'll notice a performance difference, and the software retails for less than $50. A trial version is available on the company's Web site.