Power Data Recovery's interface is clean and intuitive. If you know what a partition is, you'll be good to go. The program offers a simple file undeleter, lost and damaged partition recovery, as well as recovery of files from digital media (SD Cards, etc.) and CD/DVD. It can recover a large variety of file types (word processing documents, images, video, etc.), but has no sector editor for recovering snippets or pulling off raw data.
In my hands-on, Power Data Recovery performed on par with R-Studio and Active@ File Recovery with the majority of my test media. But unlike those programs, Power Data Recovery provides no way to designate the start and end locations of a scan to skip bad sectors. Bad sectors often cause recovery programs to hang. On my test disk with such damage, Power Data Recovery worked overnight and never moved past the damaged area, and never hinted why. That's a fail.
Other recovery programs hang on this particular drive as well (the Mac version of Stellar Phoenix excepted), but can be set to scan around the damaged sectors. MiniTool informed me that they intend to add a partial scan option the near future. Power Data Recovery already saves the results of a scan for later recovery--a pro-level feature. Note: With most programs, Power Data Recovery included, you can stop, or un-hang the scan by disconnecting the drive being scanned.
Another minor issue with Power Data Recovery is that currently, it can't be minimized while it's in operation. Scan operations can take a long time, and working around the Power Data Recovery window and dialog is annoying.
Operational issues aside, Power Data Recovery did recover data from most of my test media, which is the crux of the matter. For free, it's well worth a shot if the files you need to recover total less than 1GB. That's actually rather generous: The competition's trial versions are generally limited to files sized less than 64KB, 1MB of data total, or something similarly minuscule.
Paying for Power Data Recovery is a different matter. The $70 personal version is a trick or two shy of claiming equality with the $30 Active@ File Recovery, $80 R-Tools R-Studio 7, and the $100 Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery Pro--more mature utilities that offer the ability to scan only the undamaged portions of a hard drive. There's also the free, unlimited Recuva from Piriform, which doesn't have the success rate of the others I've mentioned, but occasionally does the trick.
When MiniTool adds a partial scan and better error handling, then it will be ready to run with the big boys as a pay-to-play product. The company seems gung-ho, so expect them to make the required improvements in short order.