Best Blu-Ray Player Software of 2018

Danny Chadwick ·
Updated
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We’ve been reviewing the best Blu-ray player software since 2010. In that time we’ve considered dozens of applications and spent hundreds of hours performing hands-on testing, conducting quality evaluations and comparing programs. In our most recent assessment, we chose PowerDVD as our top overall pick. This software performed the best in both our performance and usability tests. It also has every feature we look for in good Blu-ray player software. The thing it doesn’t have is a version that works on Macintosh computers.   

Best Overall

PowerDVD

This program scored high marks in all our tests. It’s the easiest to use, produces fantastic images and audio, and has pretty much every feature you could ever need.
View on Cyberlink
Best Value

WinDVD Pro

This product delivers the best price-to-feature ratio of all the Blu-ray player programs we reviewed. But it’s missing advanced features like touchscreen compatibility and a virtual remote control.
View on CJ
Lightest on System Resources

Leawo Blu-ray Player

This Blu-ray player uses only 4 percent of your computer’s processing power, which means you can use the player without worrying about slowing the other programs running on your machine.
View on Avangate

Product
Price
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$54.99CJ
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Overall Rating
10
9.7
9.4
9.2
8.8
8.6
7.9
Video & Audio
10
10
9.5
9.3
8.5
8.8
8.3
Controls & Conveniences
10
9.3
8.8
8.5
8.5
7.5
6.3
Help & Support
10
9.8
10
10
9.8
9.8
9.8
DVD
N/A
N/A
Digital Video Playback
DVD-R/RW
N/A
N/A
Blu-ray
Time to Play (seconds)
17
22
16
14
15
8
8
Dolby & DTS Support
3D Upscaling
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
HD Upscaling
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
CPU Usage
19%
8%
45%
4%
47%
44%
39%
Auto Display Stretch
Modifiable Video Effects
Performance
99%
96%
92%
90%
89%
85%
82%
Usability
98%
93%
88%
84%
76%
86%
81%
Lossless Audio Playback
N/A
N/A
Windows
Mac OS X
N/A
N/A
Time Stretch
N/A
Multi-Language Output
Environmental Settings
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Subtitles & Closed Captions
Auto-Resume Playback
Power Manager
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Social Media Connectivity
N/A
Virtual Remote Control
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Simultaneous Viewing
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Customizable Skins
Touchscreen Interface
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Region Changing
Free of Bloatware
N/A
BD-Live Support
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
User Forum
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Email or Online Form
Tutorials & Manuals
Knowledgebase & FAQ
Best Overall

PowerDVD

If you’re looking for the Cadillac of Blu-ray player software, PowerDVD is the program you want.
Not only did it score the highest of all the programs we reviewed in our performance and usability tests, it also has every tool and feature we look for in the best Blu-ray player software. For example, this program enables simultaneous viewing options, so you can watch your Blu-ray on your computer as well as your television, smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. Additionally, you can download a mobile app and use your phone as a remote control, which is great if you’re watching movies on your computer in bed. If you’re using a Windows device that has a touchscreen, you can use it to control this software. Not all Blu-ray player software can do that. It also has powerful upscaling technology that allows you to watch a standard-definition DVD on your big screen with minimal distortion. You can even connect to social media and let your friends know what you’re watching. This program is light on your system resources; in our tests it consumed only 19 percent of our computer’s processing power. For comparison, other programs we evaluated took up to 44 percent.
Pros
  • It scored the highest in our performance and usability tests.
  • It can take advantage of your device’s touch screen.
  • You can use your smartphone as a virtual remote control.
Cons
  • It’s the most expensive Blu-ray player software we reviewed.
  • It may take a while to explore all the tools and features.
  • It has no corresponding Mac version of the software.
$59.99Cyberlink
Best Value

WinDVD Pro

If you don’t need the advanced extras found in Power DVD, you can save some cash with this program. It costs about $40 less, but still provides a wealth of features.
It not only plays Blu-ray discs perfectly, but you can also use it to play DVDs and CDs. It can also upscale standard-definition DVD footage for HD screens. And it effectively smooths out pixilation and artifacting that can result from upscaling. You’ll still get great features, such as customizable skins, environmental settings, BD-Live network support, power manager, social media connectivity and more. However, you won’t be able to use your smartphone as a remote control or take advantage of your device’s touchscreen. It is worth nothing that this is the slowest-starting Blu-ray player we reviewed. During our test phase, we timed how long it takes each program to begin playing a disc after the play button is pressed. WinDVD Pro took 22 seconds. Others we tested took as few as 8 seconds.
Pros
  • It delivers the most features for your dollar.
  • It allows you to scale standard-definition footage for an HD display.
  • It has social media connectivity.
Cons
  • It takes 22 seconds from the time you press play until the movie starts.
  • It has no touch-screen capabilities.
  • It has no options for viewing on other devices like smartphones and tablets.
$47.99CJ
Lightest on System Resources

Leawo Blu-ray Player

If you’re looking for a program to play Blu-rays while you do other things on your computer, the Leawo Blu-ray Player is the best choice.
When we tested this software, it used only about 4 percent of our system resources. Other programs we reviewed can use nearly half of your processing power to play a movie. With the Leawo, you can watch movies on your computer and do other processor-heavy tasks without slowing down your movie or other programs. Because it’s so lightweight, you’ll miss out on a lot of the extras found in the best Blu-ray player software. For example, you don’t get HD upscaling, environmental settings, simultaneous viewing options or BD-Live network support. The program is a bit harder to manage than others we reviewed. In our usability tests, this Blu-ray player scored 84 percent, which isn’t bad, but our top pick scored 98 percent. You may need to fiddle around with this one for a few minutes, but once you know the software, it’s simple enough to use. You’ll need to watch closely during the setup process because it will automatically install other programs on your computer unless you opt out. They’re not malicious, but they’re a pain to uninstall once they’re on your machine.
Pros
  • It uses only 4 percent of your computer’s processing power.
  • It can take advantage of touch-screen monitors and displays.
  • Its power manager allows you to maximize battery life without sacrificing video quality.
Cons
  • It has no upscaling features.
  • It does not support BD-Live features.
  • It will put extra programs on your computer during installation if you’re not paying attention.
$59.95Avangate

Why Trust Us?
We have been reviewing the best Blu-ray player software since 2010. In that time we’ve considered dozens of applications, engaged in hands-on testing and ranked them accordingly. We tested each Blu-ray player program to determine the extent of its features, settings, functionality and ease of use. We evaluated the types of media discs and digital files they could process and the quality they produced. We looked for quality software that came with multiple types of customer support and was compatible with as many operating systems as possible.

How We Tested
Performance Tests
This score is based on whether the software accommodates a variety of disc and digital file types without excessive drain on the central processing unit. We judged programs on their capacity to play the video without lag, buffering or any other distortions or delays. We also judged them on the amount and efficacy of audio and picture optimization settings. 

Usability
This score is a reflection of how easy the software was to use, its important features and settings, and how well it performs each task. Good player software should have an interface that is immediately easy to understand and navigate, causing no doubt or frustration in accessing features. We also judged customization options and other features, such as the modifiable video effects.

CPU Usage
We played a test DVD and monitored our computer's CPU strain while running the software without any extra features or programs activated. The percentage shows the amount of processing power used while playing a movie in full screen. Higher percentages will mean that your computer may run slower if you are running multiple programs, or you may hear the computer fan running to keep the processor from overheating. Alternatively, lower percentages will allow you to run other programs while you watch a movie, and you won't be annoyed by the high-pitched buzzing of a processor fan. 

How to Choose Blu-ray Player Software
Video & Audio: Quality Matters
The best Blu-ray player software can read a variety of discs, not just Blu-ray. Look for one that can also play DVDs, CDs and rewritable discs. It should also be able to handle digital video and audio files such as AVI, MKV, MP4 and MP3.

This kind of software has convenient uses beyond playing Blu-ray movies. Some programs have the capacity to upscale standard-definition movies to high definition, or 2D movies up to 3D. However, if you choose to create a 3D movie, you'll still need compatible equipment to properly view it, including 3D glasses and a 3D-capable TV.

Blu-ray movies are meant to sound as good as they look. Good Blu-ray player software gives you Dolby and Digital Theater System support and lossless audio playback, even when you use headphones or connect your computer to another device via HDMI cable. Additionally, the software should be able to fully handle all intended DVD capacities, including multi-language output for any DVD that offers it.

Controls & Conveniences: Connect, Customize and Control
Tweaking various settings in a video player system can pay off when you finally get to enjoy a perfect-looking video. Most software offers modifiable video effects, letting you adjust picture hue, saturation and brightness. It should also look good when you are navigating the player; a few software options let you customize the player skin, layout and background.

Movie player software is a must-have for Windows 8 and 10 users, since neither of them come with a free native media player. Some of the software applications we reviewed have Windows 8 touchscreen compatibility for the interface, blending seamlessly with your computer system and letting you watch all your favorite movies.

Some of the Blu-ray player software in our lineup has social media connectivity, so you can post status updates and comments via Facebook or Twitter about any video you're watching. Some programs work with the BD-Live network to access special features via the internet.

Because we all have so many different and constant uses for our computers, it's important that your media player doesn't drain your battery or dominate your CPU capacity while you use it. The best Blu-ray player software offers a power manager to help preserve your laptop battery life and reduce CPU consumption if you need to run other programs simultaneously.

Help & Support: Don't Get Stuck, Get Help
Software should not only perform its assigned functions well, but also provide you with optimal customer service should there be an issue. A good software manufacturer offers several means of technical support, whether it's direct contact with the support representatives via telephone or email, or self-help resources. The latter option encompasses, typically on the manufacturer's website, simple tutorials, a frequently-asked-questions section, and a knowledge base or a user forum where users of the software can communicate and help each other.

Compatible Operating Systems: Find the Right Software for Your Computer
Though Windows has dominated the realm of software for decades, more developers are creating software that works with both Windows and Mac. Some developers are going above and beyond to include Windows 10 and El Capitan, the latest versions of Windows and Mac, respectively, as well as Linux and mobile platforms.

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