Vista no likey Blu-ray

I’ve written in previous posts that I finally procured a Blu-ray burner for the OCMS Labs.  The drives have come way down in price, but the media is still somewhat expensive, even when compared to dual-layer DVD-R discs… you can get a 50-pack spindle for around $35! That’s about 70 cents per disc for those keeping score at home.  The cheapest BD-R media is about four to five dollars per disc (check prices), and that’s if you buy a spindle.

I bought the drive primarily as a backup device, and authoring the occasional movie.  I really don’t do a lot of movie-watching at my desk, but it would be a nice feature… especially since HD content looks beautiful on my 28-inch monitor.

As soon as I received my drive, I have wasted over 10 hours troubleshooting Blu-ray movie playback.  I have searched many tech forums and performed my own troubleshooting… all to determine if this LG drive I had was flaky or if there was a software problem.

The first thought that the drive was flakey was that it absolutely refused to burn the BD-RE (rewritable) disc that came with the drive.  Thankfully I purchased a spindle of Verbatim BD-R media, which worked flawlessly, and as a matter of fact burned at 6x when the media is specified for 4x.

I tried 3 different Blu-ray software players.  WinDVD9, Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra, and TotalMedia Theatre 3.  PowerDVD would always yield a “disc format is not recognized” error or some nonsense.  WinDVD9 would push the system into “Vista basic mode” and then close.  TotalMedia Theatre 3 would give me an honest-to-god BSOD.

…and yes, I installed all of the patches from Windows Update, checked for viruses and spyware…

To determine if the drive was the problem, I ripped a copy of “Batman Begins” using AnyDVD (probably one of the best rippers for Blu-Ray) and copied the files to my hard drive.  Without fail, the software players behaved exactly the same way as before.

I thought that the problem may be the audio card.  I removed my Asus Xonar card, since it had given me problems before (read about it here), but still the same behavior.

I read on several forums how many people were having problems with Vista 64, so I pulled out a new hard drive and installed the 32-bit version of Vista on it.  This was a clean install, so the potential for codex conflict would be minimal.

I was able to get Blu-ray moves to play with WinDVD9, but that was a trial and the audio is disabled… so I’m still not sure if there’s a problem with the software or sound card.  I’m certainly not going to spend money on the full version just for a “test”.

The next step is to try this drive in another Vista system and see if Blu-ray playback is possible.  I really doubt it’s the drive’s fault, however, since the player software does the same thing with ripped (and decrypted) movies.

I read that some people are playing Blu-ray movies on their Vista systems.  I’m not there… not yet.

UPDATE: Thanks to Don’s help, I am now able to play Blu-ray movies… kinda.  After instalilng the K-Lite Codec pack, I can now drag the individual movie files into Windows Media Player and they play…

Since I’m using Windows Media Player I cannot switch audio languages, skip chapters or anything like that.  If I drag the timeline, then the audio may change from English to another language… so it’s still not completely usable.

None of the “official” blu-ray software players work for me, but at least I know the problem isn’t my drive.

Alan is a web architect, stand-up comedian, and your friendly neighborhood Grammar Nazi. You can stalk him on the Interwebs via Google+, Facebook and follow his ass on Twitter @ocmodshop.