Dirty little Blu Ray secret?

BlueCat57

Distinguished
Apr 7, 2009
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I know this is pretty late to the party, but am I mistaken or is there no REALLY good way to play Blu Ray discs on a HTPC?

I've recently bought a couple of Blu Ray sets on sale only to discover that despite having a Blu Ray DRIVE in my HTPC, I cannot play them.

One of the sets had digital copies so we just played those but the other doesn't. (Despite it being in the product description. Be sure to read the reviews first!)

So off I go to see if I can find free (I'm cheap like the rest of you.) software to play them in Windows 7. (Yep, haven't upgraded yet.) To my surprise every piece of software that claims to be able to play Blu Ray movies comes with a bunch of caveats saying they aren't perfect.

So, is there really a dirtly little secret that you can't flawlessly play Blu Ray movies on your HTPC?

Even PowerDVD 18 reviews say its the best BUT "And yes, that means I’m calling the latest version 18, despite a glitch or two, just that."

Is the best option to buy an external Blu Ray player and just use that? Of course, with the rapidly changing formats, standards and features you'll end up owning an expensive, obsolete doorstop in a couple of years.
 

NewbieGeek

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Oct 11, 2015
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I've used older versions of PowerDvD without issues to play blu ray. So that would be my recommendation. As you probably already know, however, it isn't free. I've heard VLC media player can play blu ray for free, but I've never gotten it to work for me personally. Baring a better idea, go ahead and buy PowerDvD 18.
 
Blu-ray discs are just computer discs with the video encoded in a variety of different formats (h.262, h.264, h.265, VC-1). There's also an encryption layer (HDCP) required by Hollywood on commercial discs, which works with the playback hardware to insure the data pipeline (from player to display) is authorized and intact (you aren't intercepting and copying the bits).

So generally it should just work. But if you've got new discs or oddly-coded discs, they may not play properly on certain players. Some of the video standards I listed came out after the earlier blu-ray players were released. And HDCP has been upgraded several times with the side-effect of making older Blu-ray equipment obsolete (only able to decode discs released using the older versions of HDCP).

This is getting into a legal gray area, but if you've legitimately paid for the Blu-ray discs, I would just rip them into raw files on your PC (strip off the content protection), then re-encode them into regular video files (h.264 or h.265). Depending on your PC this can take from a few hours to a few days (an i7 is fastest). Videohelp.com is a great site for guides and tools on how to do this.

https://www.videohelp.com/

If you're clueless about encoding videos, personally I take Hollywood up on their insistence that I've purchased a license for a movie, not the movie itself. And I feel no guilt downloading a movie from a pirate site if I've already bought the Blu-ray, but am unable to play it because of their weird content protection schemes. I've paid for a license to watch the movie at will, and morally (if not legally) where the bits for the movie come from is irrelevant.

For a HTPC, you want the movie files to be stored in raw media format anyway. You don't want to have to dig out and stick an individual Blu-ray disc into the HTPC every time you want to watch the movie. You want it to be ready and available for immediate playback from within the HTPC's media catalog. So you'll want to rip it or download it either way.
 

Wolfshadw

Splendid
Moderator
I lucked out. When I bought my Blu-Ray player for my HTPC, even though it was OEM, it still came with PowerDVD9. It's since updated a few times, but it's played every disc I put in. I tried getting VLC to work once or twice, but was never able to.

Recommend you go ahead and purchase PowerDVD.

-Wolf sends
 

canadianvice

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Jul 25, 2012
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My friend had a good degree of success using Leeawo Blu-Ray player (free software, at least, at the time I suggested it to him). Rather ironic, no? You pay for the disc, and have to go through all this trouble, while some fellow with fewer scruples gets it free and gets it easy.

This is why traditional media is failing so badly.
 
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