An important addition to any HTPC media centre build is Blu-ray playback. Blu-ray drives for PCs are now very affordable and a small slot loading drive will fit most HTPC cases. The issue that we have is that Windows does not come with a built in Blu-ray player. In order to play Blu-ray movies on your HTPC you need to download and install a third party application to do so. There are many free Blu-ray players out there but beware. Over half of these come packed with malware and once installed you will have a game to remove it. In this article we review the Best Blu-ray Player Software available today and highlight exactly what it can do for your HTPC media centre.
Best Blu-ray Player Software Price Compare
|Cyberlink PowerDVD 16 Ultra||16 Ultra Edition||True Theatre, Blu-ray & 3D Blu-ray Support|
|Cyberlink PowerDVD 15 Ultra||15 Ultra Edition||Blu-ray & 3D Blu-ray Support|
|Cyberlink Media Suite 14||14 Media Suite||Collection of Cyberlink Applications|
Best Blu-ray Player Software
The Aurora Blu-ray player makes our Best Blu-ray Player Software list largely due to its price. This is without doubt one of the most affordable solutions out there. It is well worth the money but you get exactly what you pay for. Aurora will play a range of media file types and of course your Blu-ray discs. It has all of the Blu-ray control functionality you would expect and is fully touch screen compatible for those of you playing media on tablets.
The video playback is good but the application does not support lossless audio so you may find that your sound is not as crisp as you would like. One of the biggest drawbacks to the Aurora Blu-ray player is that it will use approximately half of your CPU. If your HTPC media centre is running Kodi or any other frontend application you may see your machine struggle at times.
Aurora does exactly what it says on the tin and if you just want Blu-ray disc playback at a good price then this application is well worth a look.
The Aiseesoft Blu-ray player is similar to the Aurora product but with a few added benefits. It has full support of 4K video and lossless audio. Aiseesoft is designed to sync with your social media platforms to share your movie watches. If this is something that floats your boat then you may find it adds to your media experiences. Aiseefoft has fully customisable skins so you can setup your main console to suit you. It is unfortunately still rather CPU hungry clocking in at an average of around 43%. It also lacks some of the advanced Blu-ray features that our top 3 players come with like 3D playback and HD upscaling.
Aiseesoft makes number 4 on our Best Blu-ray Player Software list due to its 4K support and lossless audio. It does provide a crisp playback and available at under £40.
The Leawo Blu-ray player is downloadable for free but this version does come with adverts. The advert free full version is available at a decent price. With this product you get full playback of your Blu-ray discs and full lossless audio. One of the most noticeable improvements of Leawo when compared to the afore mentione Blu-ray software applications is its low CPU usage. Whilst playing a Blu-ray movie disc the CPU usage remained consistently under 10%. If you are running this application in conjunction with other HTPC media centre software then this is a massive plus.
Leawo has BD-Live functionality. This allows you to unlock additional online content for each of your Blu-ray movie discs. It can also sync with your social media platforms for the full online experience. Another strong part of this product is its power management functionality. This will considerably reduce your battery life when running Blu-ray discs on laptops or other portable devices.
Leawo really gets the basics right. You get a solid Blu-ray player that will not hammer your system resources. Without HD upscaling and 3D playback it just misses out on the top 2 of our Best Blu-ray Player Software list but if you do not require those features then Leawo will not let you down.
We now move to the big boys and onto our number 2 spot. WinDVD Pro 11 is a fantastic Blu-ray player. As with Leawo it has an extremely low system overhead. Throughout our testing the WinDVD Pro averaged out at under 10% CPU usage. With WinDVD Pro you can play a full range of media types and you will struggle to find a file type that is missing. This Blu-ray player beats the first three for two reasons.
The first is its customisability of video and audio content. WinDVD Pro allows you to tweak the playback settings of your media files to suite your preferences and your TV. Your movies and music will look better than ever before. Secondly is its 3D Blu-ray playback capabilities. There are not many PC Blu-ray players out there that support 3D Blu-ray disks and this is one of them. Alongside this WinDVD Pro 11 has the ability to upscale you 2D content to give you the 3D experience from it.
WinDVD Pro 11 has complete lossless audio and support for Dolby and DTS pass through. You can customise your application to suite your home surround sound system. BD-Live is also available unlocking online content for your Blu-ray discs. The power saving features are also worth noting. Like with Leawo the Power Manager feature allows you to optimise the playback to reduce power consumption for laptop users. WinDVD Pro 11 is one of the most complete Blu-ray software solutions and for that reason makes number 2 on our Best Blu-ray Player Software list.
And now for our best performer in the Best Blu-ray Player Software list. Cyberlink PowerDVD 16 is the cream of the crop when it comes to Blu-ray decoders for PC. It will play pretty much any media file type available and produce the best possible output. Cyberlink PowerDVD 16 Ultra offers two modes. It has a desktop mode for use on your PC or laptop and a theatre mode for use on a TV screen. The theatre mode looks fantastic and could even be used as the main software package for a HTPC media centre.
Cyberlink Power DVD 16 Ultra Blu-ray playback is second to none. The software is optimised for Ultra HD 4K TVs and has full 3D Blu-ray support. In terms of 3D there are a few PC Blu-ray players or physical players that allow 2D content to be played in 3D but most of them are hardly worth it. With this application you won’t be disappointed. With this product all of your video content will look fantastic. PowerDVD 16 Ultra has the ability to recognise certain aspects of a video like skin tones and optimise them for the most realistic playback possible. It also supports high resolution DSD Audio and Dolby & DTS.
Cyberlink PowerDVD 16 Ultra Additional Features
Aside from the great playback Cyberlink Power DVD 16 Ultra has some additional features that are rather neat. The application will integrate with YouTube allowing you to watch and save online video content within the PowerDVD console. It also allows you to stream content from the application to TV devices such as Apple TV, Chrome Cast and Roku. To accompany this you can download the Cyberlink PowerDVD app to your smartphone and control the your media from the comfort of your sofa.
For us Cyberlink PowerDVD 16 Ultra is without doubt the Best Blu-ray Player Software.
Read our full Cyberlink PowerDVD 16 Ultra Review.
Add Kodi Blu-ray Playback using Cyberlink PowerDVD 16 Ultra