With the Blu-ray format now well into its lifecycle as the dominant home media format, it's surprising how few computer systems are sold with Blu-ray drives, let alone the software necessary to play Blu-ray Discs (BD). Most of the integrated media player software that is preinstalled on computers purchased from retail stores does not have the ability to play Blu-ray Discs. Blu-ray player software is an inexpensive and convenient way for die-hard movie buffs and casual viewers alike to enjoy the latest Blu-ray movies on their computers.
Blu-ray software allows you to view BDs on any desktop computer, notebook and home theater system with an integrated personal computer to manage the video and music content. The only hiccup here is that you must have a Blu-ray optical drive installed on the machine, which you'll rarely find on stock models. Usually, you have to either install the drive yourself or pay top-drawer price for a system that has one out of the box.
There are only a few worthy BD player software packages on the market. We rounded them all up, and after extensive research and testing, we found that the best applications available are Cyberlink's PowerDVD 12 Ultra, WinDVD Pro 11 and TotalMedia Theatre 5. Our side-by-side comparison, comprehensive reviews and articles on Blu-ray player software can help you choose the best Blu-ray software for your viewing needs.
When we compared Blu-ray player software, 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.
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, parental controls, web connectivity and more. We also looked for the option to play Blu-ray 3D movies in addition to conventional Blu-ray Discs. Generally speaking, the more features an application offers, the more multifaceted it is, which translates to a better Blu-ray movie experience for the user.
Audio & Video Technology
The audio and video technology that delivers high quality picture and sound encompasses 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.
Ease of Use
The best BD player software has a clean, polished interface that simplifies – not hinders – the user experience. We assessed each application to see if it offers an intuitive, easy-to-navigate control panel that is unobtrusive but still clearly visible. Furthermore, the software should allow you to easily configure the audio and video settings.
Help & Support
No software is complete without wide-ranging help and support designed to efficiently address installation, technical and sales 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 could 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.
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|PowerDVD 12 Ultra||WinDVD Pro 11||TotalMedia Theatre||DVDFab Media Player|
|Blu-ray 3D Support|
|Virtual Remote Control|
|DTS Digital Surround|
|HDMI 1.4 Output|
|Modifiable Video Effects|
|Supported HD & SD Formats|
|Help & Support|
|Online Contact/Ticket Form|