After much browsing, including many forums, it looks like this forum will give me a balanced and informed answer. I hope I'm right!
I recently splashed out eleven hundred pounds on a new Asus N71 JQ laptop with the following spec:
Core i7 Q720 (1.60 MHz)
ATI HD 5730 (1GB)
4GB DDR3 RAM
17.3" HD display (1080p)
Blu Ray DVD Drive
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
This came bundled with an OEM version of Cyberlink Blu Ray Disc Suite 7, which is an old version of the current MediaSuite 8, which included PowerDVD 9.0.
PowerDVD 9.0 WILL NOT PLAY Blu Ray discs under the 64-bit version of Windows 7. The 32-bit version is fine. The only workaround is to physically move the SATA connections around so that the BluRay DVD drive is not contiguous with any other SATA drive, but this is obviously not practical on a laptop.
I contacted the seller (LaptopsDirect) who spoke to their Asus rep and confirmed that there was indeed a problem with PowerDVD 9/Win7-64. They said they'd do something about it. In the meantime, I downloaded a 21-day trial of PowerDVD 10, which DOES run properly under Windows 7 64-bit and I enjoyed excellent BluRay HD playback until the trial expired. Yesterday, Asus replied and sent me a link to their solution, which turned out to be exactly the same software as they bundled with the laptop as new. So I STILL can't play BluRay discs on my shiny new BluRay laptop. Thanks, Asus! Way to go!
It looks like I'll have to bite the bullet and pay for some playback software myself, so I am now seeking advice from this forum as to which software to buy.
Cyberlink PowerDVD 10 seemed OK, although there were a few interface problems in Cinema mode (the on-screen remote control being one of them) and I experienced the occasional stutter.
Corel WinDVD 2010 Pro is obviously another major competitor, although their website doesn't seem tio shout about it too much when compared to the others (but maybe that's a good thing....?)
Finally, Arcsoft TMT 3 seems to get some good reviews: it looks like it integrates well with WMP (although that isn't too important to me) and the price is quite competitive, especially if I download the trial first.
I've noticed discussions on this forum concerning power of processors and choice of graphics card, so I'm wondering if you could recommend which package would be best for me bearing in mind the particular spec of my laptop.
Please also bear in mind that I will mainly be playing original BluRay discs, as opposed to files stored on my hard drive, and so I don't want to have to mess around with ripping ISO images, etc, etc. I just want to put them in and watch them!
Thanks very much to all who have read this far (!) and I look forward to your technically informed help and assistance.