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Blu-ray/DVD HTPC playback questions

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
So I am thinking about scrapping my standalone Blu-Ray player and including a Blu-ray drive
in my 1st HTPC build. Please answer as few or as many of these questions you have knowledge about:

1) Can I play DVD's no matter was region they are?
2) Can I perform the following functions with your average HTPC remote control?
a) Turn on/off and rotate through subtitles
b) Turn on/off and rotate through audio tracks
c) If I turn off my player have way through a movie and restart it the next day will it remember where I left off
d) Will I easily be able to skip chapters
e) Will I easily be able to navigate DVD menus, special features etc.
f) Will I easily be able to go forward and reverse through discs at various speeds.
g) Will I be able to pause the disk and step through scenes
h) Will I be able to zoom scenes
3) What remote control supports most or all of the above features (or do you recommend)?
4) Do you use one remote control for HTPC and Disk playback or could one have two (not that I want two)?
5) What play back software supports most or all of the above features (or do you recommend)?
6) Will I be able to play most content on the disks, e.g. .mkv, .mov, .jpeg, .mp4, .mp3 etc?


Thanks,
KT
post #2 of 17
Several "Pay" programs will do this. JRiver Media Center, Total Media Theatre and PowerDVD come to mind. I haven't played back any discs using these. I don't even have a Blu-ray drive in my HTPC.

I don't use them as I go with mkv's with all the menus stripped out so I can just launch the movie directly and not waste precious time thumbing through menus or watching trailers, warning lables and a bunch of other garbage. There are several ways to playback mkv's with an HTPC. The Blu-ray drive I do have is connected eSATA to my PC so I can create the mkv's to watch on the HTPC.
post #3 of 17
Unless your blue ray drive comes with a full software blue ray player it really isn't cost effective. The only real practical reason is to reduce your component count or make it so you never have to change between inputs on your TV. Really wish MS would have included blu-ray capability in media center but they seem to be going backwards. win8 supposedly won't have built in dvd movie support, and they are looking to kill off media center in the long run. Crazy MS is backing out of the home entertainment arena while companies like google and apple are fighting hard to get in.

I personally gave up on blu-ray and just went back to DVD and now probably netflix/amazon streaming.
Edited by jeffkro - 7/31/12 at 11:44am
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

Several "Pay" programs will do this. JRiver Media Center, Total Media Theatre and PowerDVD come to mind. I haven't played back any discs using these. I don't even have a Blu-ray drive in my HTPC.

I actually use JRiver, but unless I'm mistaken, I believe it will NOT play disks by itself and you also need to use AnyDVD or the like to break the encryption. If you do that, it will then play the disks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

The only real practical reason is to reduce your component count

This is not an insubstantial reason.


Personally, I use WinDVD Pro to play disks in my HTPC. I find it's the easiest and it works just fine. And of the three main programs, it's also the cheapest. That's the only thing for which I use WinDVD, but for the purpose of playing disks, it's my favorite.
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks, so do you use your normal HTPC remote control to start WinDVD Pro? Or how you launch it.

Thanks,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

I actually use JRiver, but unless I'm mistaken, I believe it will NOT play disks by itself and you also need to use AnyDVD or the like to break the encryption. If you do that, it will then play the disks.
This is not an insubstantial reason.
Personally, I use WinDVD Pro to play disks in my HTPC. I find it's the easiest and it works just fine. And of the three main programs, it's also the cheapest. That's the only thing for which I use WinDVD, but for the purpose of playing disks, it's my favorite.
post #6 of 17
If your sole purpose is to play back from discs skip the HTPC, save your $$$ and get a $50 to $100 Blu-ray Player (or keep the one you have if it isn't broken).
post #7 of 17
Seems like the op is trying to rid himself of another " box" sitting around and I find that a good , clean idea . Just my thought though . A less is better approach if you will .

I looked at the win dvd pro software case I had not seen it before . Seems like it is really nice and if your not hell bent on a boxed piece of software , you can get it for about $40 . Not bad .
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by keeptech View Post

Thanks, so do you use your normal HTPC remote control to start WinDVD Pro? Or how you launch it.
Thanks,

I know this will offend some folks here, but I don't use a remote, I actually use a wireless touchpad keyboard with my HTPC, and I launch what I want from the desktop.

Yeah, I know, how inelegant of me.
post #9 of 17
If all you want is to play BDs with a HTPC then don't do it. It is not an elegant solution at all.

After buying the BD drive you will have to decide what software to use. Basically three choices. PowerDVD, TMT5, and WinDVD. None of them are designed with a remote in mind or a 10 foot interface (afterall it is computer software). You will have to buy a remote and ir sensor separately. You can make a remote work with them but that will require some third party software along with configuring and tweaking.

What most HTPC enthusiasts on this board do is rip the movie from the disc and store it on NAS or file server. Then use a software front end like XBMC or Windows Media Center with Media Brower to manage all your media library (movies, tv shows, music, pictures) with a very nice 10ft interface with metadata and remote support.

Hardly anyone plays movies directly from a physical disc. Way too limiting.
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zagor View Post

If all you want is to play BDs with a HTPC then don't do it. It is not an elegant solution at all.

Hardly anyone plays movies directly from a physical disc. Way too limiting.

The operative word in your first statement is "all", and once you add that word your statement is true, but the universe of people even considering doing that is likely zero. I think you'll find everyone who does this built or is building an HTPC for other reasons and would like to get rid of an unecessary box and use their HTPC for this function too. And there's no reason not to do so. I doubt anyone builds an HTPC just to play disks.

And I believe far more people plays disks in using their HTPC than you think. In what respect is it "limiting?"

Personally, I think spending countless hours ripping hundreds of TV shows and movies that I may watch once or twice ever in my lifetime is a complete and total waste of my time. I don't find popping in the disk to be unduly burdensome or "limiting" at all. Really, having a 14-disk set of the complete Rumpole of the Bailey sitting there nicely on the shelf doesn't bother me at all, and why I would want to sit down and actually invest the time to copy all of that to a hard disk escapes me. I'm really not worried about having instant one button access when five years from now I decide one night to watch an episode on Disk 9. Spending 15 seconds to pull out Disk 9 and put it in the drive hardly seems excessively burdensome.

Yeah, I know, it's not "elegant".
Edited by Zon2020 - 8/2/12 at 8:59am
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Personally, I think spending countless hours ripping hundreds of TV shows and movies that I may watch once or twice ever in my lifetime is a complete and total waste of my time. I don't find popping in the disk to be unduly burdensome or "limiting" at all. Really, having a 14-disk set of the complete Rumpole of the Bailey sitting there nicely on the shelf doesn't bother me at all, and why I would want to sit down and actually invest the time to copy all of that to a hard disk escapes me. I'm really not worried about having instant one button access when five years from now I decide one night to watch an episode on Disk 9. Spending 15 seconds to pull out Disk 9 and put it in the drive hardly seems excessively burdensome.
Yeah, I know, it's not "elegant".
+1000000
post #12 of 17
To the OP, I believe all three of the main (or perhaps only?) Blu Ray disk playing software packages (TMT, PDVD, and WinDVD) have free 30 trials for download. I suggest trying them out.

BTW, any software you get with the drive (probably PDVD if any) will be a stripped down and limited version that won't give you a fair representation of what the real software can do. As I recall, it won't play multi-track digital audio, for example.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

The operative word in your first statement is "all", and once you add that word your statement is true, but the universe of people even considering doing that is likely zero. I think you'll find everyone who does this built or is building an HTPC for other reasons and would like to get rid of an unecessary box and use their HTPC for this function too. And there's no reason not to do so. I doubt anyone builds an HTPC just to play disks.
And I believe far more people plays disks in using their HTPC than you think. In what respect is it "limiting?"
Personally, I think spending countless hours ripping hundreds of TV shows and movies that I may watch once or twice ever in my lifetime is a complete and total waste of my time. I don't find popping in the disk to be unduly burdensome or "limiting" at all. Really, having a 14-disk set of the complete Rumpole of the Bailey sitting there nicely on the shelf doesn't bother me at all, and why I would want to sit down and actually invest the time to copy all of that to a hard disk escapes me. I'm really not worried about having instant one button access when five years from now I decide one night to watch an episode on Disk 9. Spending 15 seconds to pull out Disk 9 and put it in the drive hardly seems excessively burdensome.
Yeah, I know, it's not "elegant".

I agree that when the HTPC is used for other things, adding BD support to get rid of another box is really a good idea. I just got the impression that the OP main focus was playing BDs.

When I say "limiting" I mean in a manage an entire library with metadata in a nice 10ft interface. That is what is important to me. I understand your point about having to spend time ripping and all that goes with it and it is a very valid point. It's all personal preference.
post #14 of 17
If your goal is to just watch the main movie (including basic tasks like pausing, skipping, switching audio tracks etc.), then a htpc works perfectly fine. The one commercial software that you should look into for this is Anydvd as it gives you access to the blu ray file system, which in turn allows basically playback of individual tracks (like e.g.the main movie). This way it is pretty straight forward to e.g. use a player like MPC-HC and integrate Blu Ray playback into e.g. WMC (via the Media Browser plug-in). After inserting a disc it takes about 5 to 10 seconds until the movie starts (after hitting play in Media Browser). Other Software like Jriver works similar.
But again this methode really only works for the main movie (or rather the longest track on the disc, which is started automatically). There is no menu support, so the user experience for accessing any kind of additional content on the disc is not so great (though it is possible).

I'd also say that ripping is a bit overrated, I'd only rip a disc that I'd plan to watch very often.
post #15 of 17
After some years, I finally gave up on using my HTPC for disk (or .iso) playback for BDs. I could never get prefectly smooth playback with either PDVD or TMT. The video settings needed for the commercial software is never ideal for playback of files via other software such as MPC-HC or using Shark Codecs and the 7MC built in player. PDVD and TMT are kind of flaky too and every release seems to have it's share of bugs.

So, I've got all my BD's ripped to full bitrate .mkv for playback off my server using MPC-HC. I bought a cheap but excellent Panny BD player for physical disc playback. As a bonus I got Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, Hulu, MLB etc. on it, each of which is a far superior experience than it would be on an HTPC.

My HTPC is used solely for playback of my ripped collection. I had gone into it with the hopes of a one box solution but it falls short in so many ways.

For local playback of files it is superb and beats anything available on the market in terms of picture and audio quality and for the overall experience probided by Media Browser or XBMC.
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMGNYC View Post

After some years, I finally gave up on using my HTPC for disk (or .iso) playback for BDs. I could never get prefectly smooth playback with either PDVD or TMT. The video settings needed for the commercial software is never ideal for playback of files via other software such as MPC-HC or using Shark Codecs and the 7MC built in player. PDVD and TMT are kind of flaky too and every release seems to have it's share of bugs.
So, I've got all my BD's ripped to full bitrate .mkv for playback off my server using MPC-HC. I bought a cheap but excellent Panny BD player for physical disc playback. As a bonus I got Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, Hulu, MLB etc. on it, each of which is a far superior experience than it would be on an HTPC.
My HTPC is used solely for playback of my ripped collection. I had gone into it with the hopes of a one box solution but it falls short in so many ways.
For local playback of files it is superb and beats anything available on the market in terms of picture and audio quality and for the overall experience probided by Media Browser or XBMC.

So you're saying you never tried WIN DVD?
post #17 of 17
I tried WinDVD but didn't spend much time with it because of the lack of good Media Center integration.
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