The upgrade to Blu-ray is exciting. For many years, the only way most people experienced this high-definition revolution has been on an HDTV. Now, many people are upgrading their home computers to Blu-ray. Unfortunately, many computers do not come with Blu-ray player software, and free software lacks the extra features necessary to give you a full HD experience.
Blu-ray playing software is an inexpensive solution that helps you experience your movies in amazing HD quality. Usually, these programs have extra features to help you enhance your viewing experience, like HD upscaling of DVDs and syncing with your online video services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. Much like the Blu-ray player for your TV, this software optimizes the audio for whatever stereo system you are using.
BD player software is necessary if you want to enjoy HD movies on your computer, and PowerDVD 13 Ultra, TotalMedia Theatre 6 and WinDVD Pro 11 are the best programs we used. To expand your knowledge of this unrivaled visual technology, read our articles about Blu-ray player software.
When we compared Blu-ray player software for Windows, we found that these applications all offer the innate functionality of disc playback, but they differ when it comes to supplementary features and functionalities. From audio technology to help and support options, the following are the key criteria we used to meticulously evaluate each Blu-ray software application.
Video & Audio
The audio and video technology that delivers high quality picture and sound determines the software's usefulness. As such, we evaluated the audio formats that each software application supports, such as Dolby Digital, DTS Digital Surround and others that enable superior high definition sound. Additionally, we looked at whether each application offers custom settings for various speaker setups – the number of headphone ports or speaker connections for various surround sound configurations. We also looked for HDMI 1.4 output compatibility and environmental settings that you can modify based on your computer configuration.
In terms of video technology, we assessed whether the applications provide automatic display stretching to ensure that the picture is appropriately proportioned without any distortion regardless of the screen size. We also took the additional disc formats each software supports into account. For instance, in addition to BDs, we looked for software that can play standard DVDs and other HD formats such as AVCHD.
Another technology we looked for is video conversion capabilities, which allow the software to upscale the video quality. Most Blu-ray player software can convert 2D movies to 3D and a standard definition (SD) format to HD. This means you can modify the quality of regular DVDs for smooth, HD-like playback.
Superior PC Blu-ray player software offers a range of features that enhance the overall viewing experience. Most notable are any features that allow you to customize the viewing output, such as adjustable video effects, touchscreen controls, web connectivity and more. One new feature that some BD playing software features is simultaneous viewing with your mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. Generally speaking, the more features an application offers, the more multifaceted it is, which translates to a better Blu-ray movie experience for the viewer.
Help & Support
No software is complete without wide-ranging help and support designed to efficiently address installation, technical and general inquiries. We looked for software from manufacturers that offer an array of customer service options, including email support, a toll-free telephone number and live chat. Moreover, we assessed whether each application has an integrated help section or knowledgebase so that users can conveniently access product support without leaving the software's interface.
Whether you want to build your own home theater PC or simply watch the latest Blu-ray movies on your laptop, the best Blu-ray software allows you to enjoy high quality Blu-ray playback anywhere, without the confines of a bulky player and separate TV.