Best DVD Player Software of 2018

Danny Chadwick ·
Updated
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We’ve been reviewing the best DVD player software since 2004. In that time, we’ve researched hundreds of products and performed hands-on testing on dozens of applications. After our most recent evaluation, we picked PowerDVD as our top choice. We believe it is the best DVD player software because of its performance in our tests, innate usability and high-quality playback. It uses TrueTheater Color and TrueTheater Sound technology to optimize video and audio for your screen. It can also play Blu-ray discs and disc images (ISO files) you may have stored on your hard drive.     

Best Overall

PowerDVD

This program has nearly every tool and feature we look for in the best DVD player software. It enhances and optimizes your DVDs for playback on modern, high-definition displays.
View on CyberLink
Best Value

WinDVD Pro

WinDVD Pro costs less than half of our top pick’s $60 price and still includes a lot of great features.
View on WinDVD
Best for Mac

JRiver Media Center

Few of the applications we reviewed work on Mac computers. Of those, JRiver Media Center performed the best in our tests. It’s a great alternative to the native DVD player in macOS.
View on JRiver Media Center

Product
Price
$44.95CJ
$54.99CJ
Check Price
$69.95Avangate
Check Price
$9.95OneNetWorkDirect
$29.90-
$31.50Avangate
Check Price
Overall Rating
9.8
9.6
9.6
9.3
8.9
8.8
8.5
7.3
6.9
Performance
10
9.8
9.8
9.5
9.3
7.5
6.5
7
6.3
Options & Settings
9.8
9.5
9.8
8.8
8.5
9.3
9.8
6
5.8
Help & Support
9.8
9.5
9
9.8
9
10
10
9.8
9.8
DVD
DVD-R/RW
-
Blu-ray
-
-
-
Digital Video Formats
Performance
99%
96%
96%
92%
88%
71%
85%
85%
89%
Usability
98%
93%
94%
93%
90%
70%
85%
86%
76%
CPU Usage
19%
8%
7%
3%
6%
6%
9%
44%
47%
Time to Play (seconds)
17
22
16
18
15
19
17
19
15
Auto-Resume Playback
Dolby & DTS Support
-
Lossless Audio Playback
-
-
Playback Smoothing
-
-
Region Changing
Digital Zooming
-
Subtitles & Closed Captions
AB Repeat
-
-
Customizable Skin
-
Smart Stretching
-
-
HD Upscaling
-
-
-
Social Media Connectivity
-
-
-
Touchscreen Interface
-
-
-
-
-
Power Manager
-
-
-
-
-
Environmental Settings
-
-
Time Stretch
-
-
-
Email or Online Form
-
Knowledgebase & FAQ
Tutorials
-
User Forum
-
-
-
-
-
Free Upgrades
-
-
-
-
Windows
Mac OS X
-
-
-
-
-
-
Linux
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Best Overall

PowerDVD

PowerDVD is our top pick for several reasons, chief among them its sleek design. The program is beautiful to look at and easy to navigate, and it has powerful organization tools. Additionally, playback is crisp and clear, no matter if you’re watching DVDs, Blu-rays or files from your computer.
Additionally, the software enhances DVD playback to take advantage of high-definition displays using its TrueTheater Color. TrueTheater Color intensifies color and sharpens standard-definition videos so they look good on new high-definition displays. The program also includes TrueTheater Sound technology, which optimizes bass, reverb, volume and amplification. In our tests, PowerDVD consumed 19 percent of our test machine’s processing power. While this is relatively high, it’s low enough that it didn’t slow down other applications running on our computer. Other programs we reviewed consume as little as 3 percent of our computer’s processing power. PowerDVD is also versatile. It comes with a full array of audio and video settings that allow you to adjust picture values such as brightness, hue and saturation. It also offers convenient screenshot, zooming and looping tools.
Pros
  • Intuitive interface
  • Excellent picture and audio quality
  • Highly customizable
Cons
  • No version for Mac
  • No power management tools
  • Somewhat heavy on system resources
$44.95CyberLink
Best Value

WinDVD Pro

In terms of raw functionality, WinDVD Pro matches or beats almost every other DVD player application we reviewed. For example, in addition to playing DVDs, it plays Blu-rays and video files stored on your computer. It also comes with several tools found in our top pick, including those for digital zooming, smart stretching, HD upscaling and more.
WinDVD Pro beat our top pick in our processing power tests, only eating up about 8 percent of our test computer’s resources, compared to the 19 percent PowerDVD used. It also rivals our first choice in terms of usability. WinDVD Pro’s interface is easy on the eyes, simple to navigate, and easy to learn and use. However, it’s a big sluggish – it took about 22 seconds from the time we hit the play button until our show began playing. Unlike our top pick, WinDVD Pro has power management tools, which allow you to customize power consumption to save battery life when you watch shows on your laptop. In addition, you can use the software’s environmental settings to optimize the sound and picture for different viewing spaces such as your living room or home theater. This program provides the most value for your money. If you don’t need the best of the best, WinDVD Pro is worth considering.
Pros
  • Plays DVDs, Blu-rays and digital media files
  • Is light on system resources
  • Has excellent power management tools
Cons
  • Lacks touchscreen compatibility
  • Takes about 22 seconds to start a show after you hit the play button
  • Is only available for Windows
$54.99WinDVD
Best for Mac

JRiver Media Center

Although every Mac comes with DVD player software, it’s very plain jane, offering only the very basics. If you need more powerful navigation and organization tools, JRiver Media Center is the application you want. Not only can it play DVDs, but it also plays Blu-ray discs – a feature not found anywhere in macOS. The program also lets you organize, sort and watch any type of digital media on your computer. It’s a great all-in-one solution for your entertainment needs.
This DVD player software scored well in our tests. It only used about 7 percent of our test computer’s resources, which is low enough to run other programs while you watch movies or listen to music without experiencing lag or other performance issues. It has most of the tools found in our top choice as well, including customizable skins, HD upscaling, environmental settings and time stretch functionality. This full toolset makes the program useful and versatile. However, JRiver Media Center lost points because there is no way to contact the manufacturer directly. Still, you can solve most common problems by consulting the company’s online FAQs, tutorials and user forums.
Pros
  • Excellent alternative to the DVD player bundled with macOS
  • Highly customizable
  • Powerful smart stretching and upscaling technology
Cons
  • No power management tools
  • Limited support options
  • May take a while to fully explore all its multimedia features
$68.98JRiver Media Center

Why Trust Us

Top Ten Reviews has been testing DVD player software since 2004. Our team of video experts has scoured through each product looking for key tools, features and extras that make your watching experience more enjoyable. They focus on finding software that have easy-to-use interfaces, don’t strain computer processing power, have high-quality audio and video playback, and include customization options.

We also considered what media each program can play besides DVDs. The best ones also play Blu-ray discs and other digital media stored on your computer. In addition, our favorite products come with organizational tools that let you access and play all your media files in one place.

How We Tested

We subjected each DVD player program to a battery of tests to measure its performance, usability and playback quality.

Performance Test
In this test, we evaluated each program based on its capacity to play video without lagging, buffering, or other distortions or delays. We also considered the number of audio and picture optimization settings each application has, as well as how well they work.

For reference, a difference of a few percentage points in the programs’ scores shouldn’t have a big impact on which software you choose. We just felt that applications with higher scores worked slightly better than ones graded a little bit lower.

Usability Test
We designed this test to determine how easy each software is to use, including how intuitive it is, how many important features and settings it has, and how well it performs each task. Great DVD player programs have interfaces that are easy to understand and navigate right off the bat.

Additionally, we tested each application’s customization options and other features, such as modifiable video effects. As we customized playback and used extra features, we judged them based on how easy they are to find and use, as well as how well they work.

CPU Usage Test
We played a test DVD and monitored how much the software strained our computer's CPU. We played the movie without any extra features activated or other programs running. The percentage score we list is the amount of processing power the software used while playing the movie in full screen.

Software that uses a higher percent of your computer’s CPU power may make other programs run slowly if you use them at the same time, or you may hear the computer fan running to keep the processor from overheating. Applications that use fewer system resources are better because you can run other programs while you watch movies, and you don’t have to listen to the high-pitched buzzing of a processor fan.

Key Aspects of DVD Player Software

Performance: High-Quality, Lossless Video & Audio

The best DVD player programs don’t degrade video or audio quality. Many offer Dolby and DTS support, so you get crisp, clean sound, as well as lossless audio, even when you use an HDMI cable or headphones. Top products can also optimize DVD content to take full advantage of new high-definition displays.

Quality software also includes a variety of playback options. For example, these applications let you automatically resume watching right where you left off. They also have smooth playback so you don't waste time waiting for your video to load and buffer.

Options & Settings: Customize & Control

The biggest benefit of using DVD player software over a physical player is you have much more control over quality settings and controls. The applications also have a larger selection of customization features such as player skins and layouts. These extra features can help you organize your content and make the program even more intuitive, which is convenient if you use the software frequently. Furthermore, paid software doesn’t hassle you with nag screens, which pop up when you open the software or at random intervals to ask you to upgrade to a premium version, something that’s common with freeware.

You may want to re-watch a funny section of a comedy flick or zoom in on a specific detail in a mystery thriller, and good DVD player software lets you do so. These programs typically let you customize your video settings, so you can set bookmarks, loop and repeat clips, or even just stretch the video to fit your screen. Some software can also connect with and optimize your home theater's audiovisual setup.

Windows 8 and 10 don’t come with native media players, though their predecessors did, and a good movie player software can fill that void. Some programs are even compatible with the touchscreen interfaces found on select Windows 8 machines.

Most applications can also integrate with your personal video library on your computer's hard drive or an external drive. A few even let you post directly to your favorite social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, so you can share what you're currently watching with a small comment, just like a true movie critic.

Help & Support: Get Information & Upgrade Your Software

With great software comes great technical support, or at least it should. Consider products that offer a way to contact the manufacturer, as well as online documentation that can answer your questions or ease your concerns such as tutorials, a knowledgebase or a FAQs section.

One of our favorite support features is a user forum, which some manufacturers include on their websites. Forums let you interact directly and indirectly with other people using the product to ask questions, report issues or just talk over your common bond.

Lastly, whether for Mac OS X or PC, your DVD player software should offer some kind of free upgrade option. Most come with free minor upgrades for life and make you pay for major upgrades, though your software will continue to work fine if you choose not to upgrade. Very few manufacturers offer free minor and major lifetime upgrades.

Supported Media Types: Make Sure You Can Watch Your Favorite Videos

While most people use DVD player software to play DVDs, many also enjoy playing their favorite digital video files. Some player software allows you to play DVD-R/RW discs. Only a few play Blu-ray discs, so if your movie collection is predominantly Blu-ray, you may want to consider Blu-ray player software, which typically has more all-encompassing options.

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