The top performers in our review are PowerDVD 15 Ultra, the Gold Award winner; WinDVD Pro 11, the Silver Award winner; and Macgo Blu-ray Player, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing the Blu-ray player software to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 products.
The only thing better than watching a movie on the big screen is to watch it in high quality from the comfort of your couch. Blu-ray movies have the crisp definition and bold colors we go to the movie theater for, but you can enjoy the same quality directly from your laptop without shelling out a ton of money, thanks to Blu-ray player software. Typically, the software can play not just your favorite Blu-ray movies, but also standard-definitions DVDs, and a large variety of digital video formats.
Because video player software is so popular, there is a free option, the Leawo Blu-ray Player. This free software is perfect for those who want to enjoy high-quality audio and video but are also on a budget. As with any free software, it is important to be aware of the risk of bloatware and to use it at your own discretion.
This software lets you easily watch Blu-ray movies on your computer or in your home theater without reducing audio or video quality, which is what you may experience with a standard media player. Depending on the software, you can even upscale your video's definition quality, have access to a power manager and connect to the internet for access to extra features or social media sharing. Additionally, many Blu-ray player software programs have smaller yet still advantageous features, like customizable skins or a Windows 8-compatible touchscreen interface.
Overall, the software takes the place of a physical Blu-ray player, usually at a lower cost with more features and settings. However, your computer still needs to have a disc drive capable of reading Blu-ray discs, or you need to have digital Blu-ray video files. It also works well to play burned Blu-ray or DVD discs. True cinephiles can keep their videos organized by using quality DVD collection software. For more information on various Blu-ray player software features and configurations, check out our articles on Blu-ray player software.
We tested each Blu-ray player program to see the extent of its features, settings, functionality and ease of use. We tested the programs mainly on how many different types of media discs and digital files they could process and the quality they produced. Lastly, we looked for quality software that came with multiple types of customer support and was compatible with as many computer operating systems as possible.
Video & Audio: Quality Matters
The best Blu-ray player software can read a variety of discs, not just Blu-ray. Look for one that can also play DVDs, CDs and rewritable discs if you want to use those types with this software. It should also be able to handle digital video and audio files such as AVI, MKV, MP4 and MP3.
This kind of software has many convenient uses beyond playing Blu-ray movies. Some programs have the capacity to upscale standard-definition movies to high definition, or 2D movies up to 3D. However, if you choose to create a 3D movie, you'll still need compatible equipment in order to properly view it, including 3D glasses and a 3D-capable TV.
Blu-ray movies are meant to sound as good as they look. Good Blu-ray player software gives you Dolby and DTS support and lossless audio playback, even when you use headphones or connect your computer to another device via HDMI cable. Additionally, the software should be able to fully handle all intended DVD capacities, including multi-language output for any DVD that offers it.
Controls & Conveniences: Connect, Customize and Control
Tweaking various settings in a video player system can really pay off when you finally get to enjoy a perfect-looking video. Most software offers modifiable video effects, which lets you adjust picture hue, saturation and brightness. It should also look good when you are navigating the player; a few software options let you customize the player skin, layout and background.
Movie player software is a must-have for Windows 8 and 10 users, since neither of them come with a free native media player. Some of the software applications we reviewed even have Windows 8 touchscreen compatibility for the interface, blending seamlessly with your computer system and letting you watch all of your favorite movies.
Some of the Blu-ray player software on our lineup has social media connectivity, letting you post status updates and comments about any video you're watching for your friends to see, via Facebook or Twitter. Other programs work with the BD-Live functionality of certain Blu-ray discs, letting you access special features via the internet.
Because we all have so many different and constant uses for our computers, it's important that your media player doesn't drain your battery or dominate your CPU capacity while you use it. The best Blu-ray player software offers a power manager to help preserve your laptop battery life and reduce CPU consumption if you need to run other programs simultaneously.
Help & Support: Don't Get Stuck, Get Help
Software should not only perform its assigned functions well, but also provide you with optimal customer service should there ever be an issue with it. A good software manufacturer offers you many means of technical support, whether it's direct contact with the support representatives via telephone or email, or self-help resources. The latter option encompasses many solutions for you, typically on the manufacturer's website, such as simple tutorials, a frequently asked questions section, a knowledge base or a user forum, where users of the software can communicate and help each other.
Compatible Operating Systems: Find the Right Software for Your Computer
Though Windows has dominated the realm of software for decades, more developers are creating software that works with both Windows and Mac. Some developers are going above and beyond to include Windows 10 and El Capitan, the latest versions of Windows and Mac, respectively, as well as Linux and mobile platforms. The mobile functionality is created complementarily to the computer software, working as an add-on for ease of viewing.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We obtained the software in our comparison through retail purchase. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. The results of our evaluations were not provided to software manufacturers in advance of publication.
Three Blu-ray player software applications – PowerDVD 15 Ultra, WinDVD Pro 11 and Macgo Blu-ray Player – rose above the rest in our comparison, mostly because of their ease of use, audio and video capabilities, settings, and customer support options. These are the factors we gave the most weight in our rankings.
Whether you ultimately choose to pay a pretty penny for software or are OK with the free option, Blu-ray player software can help you have a heightened and enjoyable movie viewing experience. PowerDVD won out over the others because it is extremely intuitive, has terrific media compatibility and is coded well, letting it run smoothly despite being packed with features. It allows for a seamless movie-watching session, whether with a physical Blu-ray disc or an MKV file.
WinDVD Pro 11 is a longtime popular player, and we like it because it has top-shelf features and functionality, all while running at just 8 percent CPU usage. Macgo Blu-ray Player is a slick player packed with features that is easy to use. Blu-ray player software makes it easy to watch your favorite flicks conveniently on your laptop or home theater, elevating your movie night.