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  • Spivonious - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    I knew there was a reason version 11 was on a fire sale. I had to upgrade from 9 to play those profile 5 discs. Hopefully they continue support for 11 for a while. Reply
  • jwcalla - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Maybe I'm just a curmudgeon but the idea of having to pay for software to get the magic keys to play the BluRay discs you paid for is ridiculous. Why are people so eager to grab their ankles? Reply
  • Spivonious - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    That cost is included with standalone players. That said, I'd love it if Microsoft would sell a blu-ray codec for $10-$15 and let me play them right inside of Media Center. I will never use the mobile features of PowerDVD, nor the image enhancement and fake 3D features. Reply
  • Tetracycloide - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    I can understand a commercial license being needed to release the codec as part of a retail player but a non-commercial home license should be totally free. Reply
  • Alexstarfire - Friday, February 03, 2012 - link

    Yes, the cost might be included with the stand-alone players but you're also paying for the hardware. When you are playing back Blu-Rays/DVDs on your computer you've already paid for the hardware. I see no reason that the software would be as expensive as a solution that provides hardware and software. I don't believe it should be free, though that'd be very nice, but even $50 is more expensive than I think it should be. Reply
  • Tetracycloide - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    Wholeheartedly agree. Wasn't there an article here a few days back about adding blu-ray support to VLC by just copying the keys into the right folder? Maybe that was ars. At any rate it's infinitely preferable to paying for the bars and chains that keep you locked up as a consumer. Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    Yes, VLC can handle Blu-rays with encryption now (albeit with some exceptions).

    But, VLC will not be reliable with menus, HD audio decoding etc. (Look up the VLC piece I wrote in the Pipeline section as to why Blu-ray support being added in VLC is just the beginning of a long process)
  • joel4565 - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    I am sure the latest version of Powerdvd is quite nice and lovely, but honesty how can it ever be justified at $100 for the full version when a quick glance on Newegg shows several standalone blueray players for <$100 and several well rated at just over a hundred dollars.

    And for tablet/mobile For the same ~$100 you could get a two year subscription to AnyDVD HD and Handbrake to transcode the video to x264 for a much better tablet experience. AVplayerHD is a good IOS app that plays 720p x264 mkv videos quite nicely on ipad2 and I am sure there is a similar app for Android.

    The fact that bluray drives require such expensive software to get the full experience shows just how little the movie & tv industry cares about PC users. Even the cheapest bluray drive $57 + the basic version of software $50 is more expensive than several stand alone players that will probably do a better job.
  • daneren2005 - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Of course. In fact they HATE PC users. PC users tend to want to do crazy stuff like own content and to be able to use it on multiple devices after paying for it the first time. The media industry on the other hand wants you to pay for the same crap every single time you get a new device, and PCs allow you to get around that. Reply
  • Braumin - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    I bought version 7 Ultra for HD-DVD and Blu-ray. Verion 9 came out with Media Center integration, so I figured that was worth the upgrade.

    Cyberlink is a horrible company. They never had updates for 9, even when it was the most current offering. Movies would often not play for months before there was updates. Of course, that got worse as 9 moved out of main support.

    $100 is basically a subscription for this software, since they release a new version every year and ditch support of the old version quickly.

    I stopped trying to watch blu-ray on my HTPC. For $90 I got a Samsung wi-fi blu-ray player which has played every disc I have thrown at it.

    Keep your junk Cyberlink.
  • burntham77 - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    As much as I love my HTPC, there are times when I think just using a stand alone blu-ray player is the best bet. Sure it means one more piece of hardware under the TV, but blu-ray is still hinky on the PC, mainly due to audio codecs being unreliable. Reply
  • Breit - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the review. I have just one question: Does PowerDVD 12 have proper multi-monitor support eventually? All prior versions i have tested so far just give me a cheesy warning dialog box saying that 'resolution is not supported' which means that one display in landscape (30" - 2560x1600 in my case) and one display in portrait mode (20" - 1600x1200) is not what they want their customers to use. Not that this is complicated to handle other players handle this just fine, it is just bullying. Reply
  • Golgatha - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    I've tried both Cyberlink and PowerDVD. Both of them will put you on an upgrade treadmill and the juice just isn't worth the squeeze every year. I know PowerDVD also took out the ability to playback Bluray ISO rips or M2TS files. Cyberlink is clunky and rarely updates their software.

    On the other hand, ArcSoft TMT plays everything beautifully, they don't hound you about upgrading, and they don't mind if you employ a bit of fair use in your media viewing habits. They also provide free and regular updates to the software and it isn't a bloated POS like both Cyberlink and PowerDVD have become.
  • max_daemon - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    I registered to second Golgatha. When I bought a hybrid HD-DVD/Blu-Ray drive in 2008 it came with PowerDVD and I have to say my experience was infuriating. From the start a number of Blu-Ray releases wouldn't play. Updates were few and VERY far between. Even some HD-DVD titles would be messed up, with non-functional menus. Long story short, I shelled up for Total Media Theatre after a long search for a good player - the forums were filled with stories similar to mine, both from PowerDVD and that other popular bundled software whose name eludes me - and have never looked back. I haven't upgraded to the current version (I think it's on 4 now), but it still runs great, plays anything I throw at it, has hardware acceleration, you name it. It was worth every cent. Reply
  • Golgatha - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    TMT 5 is the latest version and I upgraded from a bundled version 3, which was specific to an ASUS HDAV 1.3 slim I owned. At the time I owned PowerDVD 8 and had tried a trial version of Cyberlink, which didn't work at all as was bloated...just awful. Anyway, PowerDVD removed support for HD DVD at random and they also removed support for playback from virtual drives while I was the "proud owner" of their software, which I shelled out $100 for. Those two features basically made me diehard against them, and even if PowerDVD worked well and wasn't bloated, it would be a cold day in hell before I ever gave them my money again. Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Guys, I agree TMT used the be the best balance between PDVD and WinDVD, but Cyberlink has learnt its lessons here. The player is not bloated at all, and the pestering to upgrade / purchase other software has toned down quite a bit.

    As I mentioned in the review, PDVD plays back ISOs and folder rips without any problems. (I think they had some issues earlier)

    I did mention in my review about a folder rip which didn't play back in PDVD 12, and a crash while playing back a local file. So, it is not that PDVD is the magic solution.. Cyberlink does need to make some more fixes.
  • Golgatha - Thursday, February 02, 2012 - link

    I sent ArcSoft an email linking them to this feedback section. They replied back within 12 hours. This is what they said...

    Thanks very much for provide the link to us. We will keep support for playback from virtual drives, M2TS files, and keep improve the software.

    Please feel free to contact us if you have any other questions.

    Best Regards,
    ArcSoft Support

    I have never once had a feature removed by ArcSoft. Can't say the same for Cyberlink. ArcSoft gets my money.
  • Tin Hat - Friday, February 03, 2012 - link

    I believe ArcSoft removed HD-DVD support in later versions, which funnily, i found less annoying than when PowerDVD did it. Why? That's because ArcSoft kept updating its software compatibility wih the latest Blu-ray releases so i could continue to watch HD-DVD as well. The only bug to bear was the switching to plain graphics every time HD content kicked in, which ArcSoft never coded out of version 3.

    My main annoyance was when software companies dropped HD-DVD like a stone leaving buyers like me stranded for decent backup tools and players. I noticed only AnyDVD and ArcSoft left solid support for us. The rest just assumed we would just bin all those lovely HD videos or something? I've had a both annoying and educational time learning all about reMuxing and transcoding since then.
  • darkswordsman17 - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    I tried TMT5 and was unimpressed. For one, it would put Windows into basic color scheme even though I made sure to check not force that, it still did it with every Blu-Ray movie I played on it. Performance wasn't terribly impressive. MPC-HC with madVR looks better and performed roughly the same with a trial Blu-Ray rip using MakeMKV of the exact same movie, no compression/encoding or anything. Oh, and using a mouse is a bit of a pain but menus on DVDs and Blu-Rays are often sluggish if not outright horrible to begin with so that's the bigger nuisance.

    So, Arcsoft might be one of the better for what it is, but its still a letdown and not a substitute for say MPC-HC properly configured. If it weren't for the DRM keys needed (and probably DTS-HD decoder), there's basically nothing that other players couldn't do as well if not better. Couple that with the price and its just not worth it to me.

    I'd probably just use MakeMKV but I can't get transcoding of the lossless formats to FLAC figured out yet.
  • daneren2005 - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Why not just use AnyDVD HD. Its non intrusive and just works in the background and allows you to play a blu-ray just like its a dvd from your normal player. And best yet they don't bullshit you and pretend their support is anything but a subscription of their software. They call it what it is. Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    I am not going to disagree with this, but I did mention in the preamble to the piece that we are looking at avenues to enjoy commercial optical discs in the most legal manner possible. Usage of AnyDVD HD is very much in the grey area since it circumvents copy protection technologies (not that I agree with the law here, but we have to make do with whatever the politicians are putting out thanks to the bribes they get from the content owners (MAFIAA)) Reply
  • Golgatha - Thursday, February 02, 2012 - link

    I wonder if decrypting on the fly is really against the DMCA. You're not making a copy and the encryption isn't being's still on the disc ;-). Reply
  • Etern205 - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    The Ultra comes with the extra 2 features bundles while Pro and Standard makes you pay extra?
    I don't see the point of getting pro or standard cause by getting Pro you actually pay more than the ultra and standard is useless since you can't play Blu-Ray.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Well, not every customer wants a mobile app or mobile remote.. So, in that sense, the pricing strategy does seem OK..

    I agree that Pro is not a good choice if you want to play Blu-rays. I believe that tier was created for OEMs to snag (It is probably the version bundled with all the PCs having a Blu-ray drive)
  • erikstarcher - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Nice review. Now can we get one on TMT5 and WinDVD please? Reply
  • CharonPDX - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Yes, I know... But I have a combo HD-DVD/Blu-ray drive, and I still own a few movies on HD-DVD only. I know the older versions, that were current when HD-DVD was current, can play them, but have the newer versions kept that? Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    I know for a fact they removed HD-DVD support at some point for no apparent reason. I very, very much doubt they re-added it. Reply
  • shriganesh - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    Hi Ganesh!
    I am also Ganesh ;) Your reviews are detailed and very good esp regarding the CPUs used in devices and their architectures!
    You have Engal Anna dvdrip! Are you Vijayganth fan??? ROFL!!
  • Ph0b0s - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    Finally it looks like PowerDVD can decode DTS-HD MA 7.1 for those of us with 8 channel PAP sound cards. Up until now it could only manage 5.1. This is good news and a big feature inclusion, shame it was not tested... The only thing missing I would like to see them do is Truetheater HD motion for Blu-ray movies, so Blu-rays can appear to be more than 24 fps, with in between frames inserted. Maybe next release. Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    Yes, DTS-HD MA 7.1 decode is fully supported and confirmed to be working. Reply
  • sholling - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    It seems like the only real change from 11 to 12 is the ability to get rid of the giant advertizement screen. The settings screen still doesn't let you change audio defaults or at least make them stay changed, and it still doesn't support ISOs despite the feature chart. I wish the reviewer had actually tested that feature because it would have saved me $50. Net time I'll be a lot less trusting when a reviewer here makes a claim. Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    Whoa! Of course it plays ISOs when it is mounted with Virtual Clone Drive. Definitely tested and it works. Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    And of course, I have mentioned that in the concluding section too:

    The software could implement native support for Blu-ray / DVD ISOs, thereby making it unnecessary for users to mount them in a virtual drive.

    Next time around, it would be really nice to not blame the reviewer when the necessary information is actually available in the review and is clearly explained.
  • sholling - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    If BD ISO is going to be claimed in the table then it needs to be in reference to direct support not through a some 3rd party tool that's doing the heavy lifting. Any program can access an ISO if a 3rd party program is doing the work for it. The author needs to go back and correct the table to read "ISOs supported through 3rd party tools only". Many readers are going to be coming from appliances alike the WDTV Live and NeoTV550 where BD ISO support actually means BD ISO support. Reply
  • sholling - Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - link

    BTW Other than the ISO thing it was a nice review. Reply
  • cjs150 - Thursday, February 02, 2012 - link

    I have had bad experiences - never again.

    If I like a Blu ray I will rip it off the disc down to my NAS (any number of programs can do this) and then replay using a low power HTPC (still looking for the perfect one).

    Yes it may be a grey area but my standalone Blu-ray player does a brilliant job - until you get to a quiet bit in the movie. I want to hear the movie not the Blu-ray player (to be fair it is probably just sound of disc going round at high revs).

    I particularly enjoyed the lack of support for forced sub-titles - so when I watch Battle of Britain and Germans are speaking German I will not get the sub-title translations?
  • ganeshts - Thursday, February 02, 2012 - link

    Forced subtitles work off Blu-rays, just not off standalone files.

    The advantages of ripping a Blu-ray to disk are many, but not everyone wants to do that (and it is definitely a legally gray area at least in the US)
  • Golgatha - Thursday, February 02, 2012 - link

    There is nothing grey about it. The DMCA makes it completely illegal to do a legally grey thing. Namely the exercise of your fair use rights. Sorry to derail the thread. Nice review of apparently improved software (since I last used it anyway). Customer service, cost of upkeep, and support of the product should be in the review too. Those are the main reasons I chose ArcSoft's TMT5. Reply
  • maglito - Thursday, February 02, 2012 - link

    It seems no software player supports this niche. It makes plenty of sense for current HTPC projector owners to get a 2nd projector identical to their current one(cheaply on the used market), some passive filters, cheap $1/pair glasses and possibly go to a silver screen depending on what they use(if their current screen won't maintain polarization of the reflected light). In fact JVC projectors are ideal for this as all colors are already polarized at 0 degrees (I have a JVC RS-1 from back in 2006 and I know Anand got a RS-2 shortly after).

    If any video card manufacturer or media player software supported this output type from 3d Blu Ray or 3D MKV files that would help many people investigating this solution out tremendously. The current work arounds to make this work are a bit of a joke.

    As usual, nice write up Ganesh.
  • justniz - Thursday, February 02, 2012 - link

    I never liked the way PowerDVD apparently has to take over your whole system just to play a DVD.

    Does PowerDVD 12 still need to switch your whole GUI from glass mode to basic mode when it runs? That was always retarded, especially on PCs with high end video cards.
  • ganeshts - Thursday, February 02, 2012 - link

    No, PDVD has an option to remain in Aero mode when playing Blu-rays now. But, ArcSoft also has the same solution.. I think there is no problem in that segment anymore as long as you go and fix the appropriate settings (I think default for PDVD 12 was remaining in Aero, and for TMT5, it was switch to Basic, but I am not sure if that was some auto-detection of GPU going on in the background) Reply

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