Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Windows Blu-ray Player Software: WinDVD, CinePlayer BD with 3D, Nero's Blu-ray Playback Plug-in

All of the reviewed software versions below are obsolete. Check our 2012 reviews instead.

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(...continues from Page 3: ArcSoft's TotalMedia Theatre 5 Review)

Corel's WinDVD 2010 Pro

Corel haven't come up with a new version of their Windows Blu-ray player software WinDVD but they have released a free update to WinDVD 2010 Pro which adds Blu-ray 3D support. So there are still two variations of the current WinDVD software: WinDVD 2010 and WinDVD 2010 Pro, the latter being the 2D and 3D Blu-ray enabled version.

WinDVD is quite Spartan in comparison to both PowerDVD 10 and TotalMedia Theatre 5. It does have an upscale and post-processing engine, a feature that has been a must for all players for some time now. 3D support appears to be limited to nVidia and Intel, no ATI currently. At least Corel haven't listed ATI support while they explicitly mention nVidia and Intel graphics. File format support is limited, although QuickTime and typical camcorder formats are supported, as is direct playback from camcorders. There is no Windows Media Center integration although WinDVD can be started from within 7MC.

Notable features include: power management options for battery life control on notebooks, a time-stretch function to make sure you won't miss the end of your movie in time pressure situations, parental control options, Windows 7 Touch support in the UI, scene bookmarking (not available for BD playback).

Corel tend to be slow on updates compared to CyberLink and ArcSoft, which occasionally may lead to problems with newer discs.

Roxio CinePlayer® BD with 3D

Roxio is a relative newcomer on the Blu-ray playback field. Their CinePlayer comes in two editions: Roxio CinePlayer with 3D and Roxio CinePlayer BD with 3D. As the name suggests, the latter is the BD playback enabled edition.

CinePlayer was not tested as Roxio does not offer a trial version of their Blu-ray player software, so the info here is only included for thoroughness. CinePlayer boasts full 3D support including conversion of 2D content to 3D. Roxio have two unique selling points with CinePlayer: it is the cheapest of the bunch (actually you can get even an additional discount of 20% before April 15, 2011) and it has RealD 3D support. The RealD 3D format is gaining popularity (and fast!) and of all the listed players only CinePlayer currently supports it. Cyberlink only recently announced they are working to include RealD support in PowerDVD (source).

Nero's Blu-ray Disc Playback plug-in

Nero do not offer a stand-alone BD player. Instead, they have a Blu-ray Disc Playback plug-in which is compatible with some of their other applications. The plug-in is included with Nero Multimedia Suite 10 Platinum HD and Nero Video Premium HD.

The cheapest BD enabled Nero option is Nero Video Premium HD. This is basically Nero Vision Xtra + the BD playback plugin + Nero Creative Collection Pack 1 (a collection of video editing effects). So this is really their video editing software enabled to play BDs. The Nero Multimedia Suite 10 Platinum HD on the other hand is a collection that includes virtually all of Nero's applications: video editing, disc burning, back-up utilities. One can also upgrade Nero Vision Xtra or Nero Multimedia Suite 10 (i.e. the standard edition of the suite) with the plug-in but this is really only interesting if you happen to already own them. Otherwise Nero Video Premium HD is the best BD playback value for money in Nero's world.

It is worth mentioning that of all Windows Blu-ray player software packages mentioned here Nero's is the only one without Blu-ray 3D support, at least for now. Whether that's a deal breaker is for the reader to decide. Especially for the ones in need of some small-scale video editing, Nero is probably still a viable option.

There are free trials available for Nero products but they explicitly exclude the Blu-ray playback functionality.

Check if there are current Roxio's or Nero's promo codes.

Let's finish our Windows Blu-ray player reviews with BD player software comparison table and conclusion.

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