The Best HTPC Blu-ray Playback Software

For many, setting up a HTPC can be a rewarding experience.  A major factor is the ability to customize and run ones own software.  It can also be a favorable alternative to getting a PVR from a cable company.

Even when faced with so many options out there, one of the best choices remains Windows Media Center, arguably the best HTPC software available, and already available on your Windows 7 PC (go ahead, check for yourself: Click Start Menu > type “Media Center”).

With leading software developers such as ArcSoft, your Media Center experience will be even better.  Enhancements, such as a Blu-ray TMT 5 playback plug-in will allow you to watch your movies without leaving Media Center.

The ArcSoft TMT 5 Blu-ray plugin’s tight integration with WMC means you can launch Blu-ray playback from the main menu, and combined with a Media Center remote, the integration can be even better.

The ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 Blu-ray plug-in is included with the ArcSoft TME2 software suite bundled with select DIGISTOR External Blu-ray burners.

Additionally, DIGISTOR has two exclusive bundles for internal Blu-ray drives, perfect for a small form factor HTPC

 

 

 

 

Aside form the plug-in for WMC, there’s another good reason you’ll want to use TMT 5 for your HTPC.

You can play previously ripped Blu-ray movies meaning no disc is required for viewing.  Launching the TotalMedia Theatre 5 outside of Media Center allows you to play movies that have been ripped to a folder. Movies ripped to ISO can also be played if mounted using a free virtual disc program such as DVDFab Virtual Drive.  Both files rips, and ISO rips can give you all the original features (menus, chapters, extras, etc.) and can be stored on your hard drive for playback anytime.

Installation is as easy as installing the ArcSoft bundle and the plug-in will be installed automatically as well.  This will give you the choice to launch outside of Media Center as well – this can help use less system resources for Blu-ray movie playback.

In order for Windows 8 users to have Media Center, an upgrade is required.  Unfortunately, Media Center is no longer free as in previous version of Windows.  The type of upgrade depends on which version (Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro) you are using:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/feature-packs

Also with Windows 8, the ability to playback Blu-ray movies is still not natively supported.  When attempting to play a Blu-ray movie, this is the message you’ll get:

Fortunately, ArcSoft TotlMedia Theatre 5 is Windows 8 compatible, so you’ll be able to enjoy full Blu-ray playback from your Windows 8 HTPC.

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Highest Quality 1080p Blu-ray Playback Software on a Mac


If your Blu-ray collection is growing and you’d like to use your Mac mini as a home theater box, or watch your movies in 1080p while traveling with your MacBook Pro, then Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player will be a game changer in your entertainment lifestyle.

Macgo isn’t the only game in town, but they were the first to create a Blu-ray playback software for Mac. As far as we can tell, the Macgo software is also the highest quality visual output for Blu-ray playback on a Mac, an important factor since we don’t want degraded video from our 1080p movie. The Mac Blu-ray Player can play Blu-ray movies from disc or ISO files, as well as Blu-ray folders (BDMV folders). Storing your discs as ISO’s is a great way to easily access HD movies from your home theater environment.

Using the software is simple; your only pre-requisite is you have a Blu-ray drive plugged into your Mac. We’re happy to say the DIGISTOR External Blu-ray drive works great, and can play movies from a Single USB Cable (we’re looking at you MacBook Air). The system requirements state you should be running at least OS X 10.5 or above.

If you just need a nice media player, you can use Macgo permanently to play back MOV, MKV, AVI, FLV, WMV, MP4 and many more. We give Macgo high marks for quality playback, and high definition audio output along with multi file support.

The regular price is $59.95 but at the time of this writing Macgo is having a sale for  $39.95, 33% off the regular price. Macgo gives a trial download so as long as you have a Blu-ray drive around or some Blu-ray ISO files ripped to your Mac its risk free to give it a try. Or if you’re just looking for a new media player we still suggest grabbing the player from Macgo’s download page.

Source: Macgo Website

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New Codec Helps 4K and UltraHD Video come to Blu-ray Disc


The ITU has approved a new video codec called H.265, creating a new standard for high definition video storage. The new format allows higher quality video to be compressed in a smaller file size, meaning a 4K (4096 × 2160) or UltraHD (3840 x 2160) resolution movie will eventually fit on a current generation 50GB Blu-ray disc.

The current standard using H.264 is widely used for Blu-ray disc movies as well as online streaming content for videos up to 1080p. Most of the videos on your iPad are all encoded with H.264 also. The new H.265 standard, also known as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) is designed to bring even higher quality video and higher resolution to these same playback arenas.

See link below for the press release.

Source: ITU

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It’s the latest in Blu-ray playback technology… and it’s on a Mac?

Get your MacBook Pro, Air, Mini, and iMac ready to play that gorgeous 1080p video from your favorite Blu-ray movies because DVDFab and XBMC have created a knock-out combo movie player application you have to check out! Grab your External Blu-ray drive, plug it in, and read on…

We are not unfamiliar with certain Mac Blu-ray players out in the market. There’s been whispers of tweaking VLC and other workarounds, even some retail offers are used by our customers. We recently found that DVDFab has built software that really gives users a pleasant Blu-ray playback experience on the Mac, and it works perfectly with DIGISTOR Blu-ray drives (of course we had to let you know!)

DVDFab teamed up with XBMC a fantastic duo for overcoming playback issues on a closed system like the Mac. By doing so they were able to create a software called DVDFab Media Player for Mac which plays Blu-ray discs directly from the Blu-ray drive plugged into your Mac. It will also play Blu-ray ISO files, and many other media file types making it a nice well rounded media player anyway.

The software hasn’t officially released yet, the company claims it is coming soon. To support that claim they are giving a 30 day free trial on their website.

One thing to note is that this software does require internet access so the software can ping DVDFab’s servers to get the latest unlock for the movie you are trying to watch. DVDFab has been the leaders of DVD and Blu-ray movie ripping software for quite a while, so its no wonder why they can easily unlock a Blu-ray discs with just a ping, but they must do this over the internet at the time the movie tries to play.

Though we ran into a few bugs while using the trial, we felt the overall experience was the best we’ve had playing a Blu-ray disc on a MacBook. Take a look, let us know if you feel it’s worth the $60 price tag, or if you’ve had a better experience with another program.

Source: DVDFab

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