When DVDFab first released their media player, I downloaded it for testing purposes. It was very much a “work in progress” at that point, and I could not recommend it over any of the commercial products available, and even many of the free programs beat it handily in playback.
I haven’t worked with it since then, but recently DVDFab offered their media player for free on GiveAwayoftheDay, so I got it while it was available, thinking this would be a good time to retest the program and see what kind of improvements have been made.
The programs that I have been comparing with DVDFab media player are Arcsoft TMT 5, Arcsoft TMT 6, PowerDVD 13, and a couple of free players that don’t have menu support, VLC and PotPlayer.
The first thing I noticed about this version of DVDFab Media Player is how much improvement they have made in playback. In the past, the program was prone to stuttering, and having a slideshow effect in action scenes. There is no sign of that now. This is a major step forward for this program, and playback is virtually identical to that seen in TMT and PowerDVD. VLC can be a little uneven in playback from time to time, but is generally pretty good. PotPlayer has been excellent in my experience when playing m2ts files from blu ray.
One of the reasons to choose DVDFab Media Player is its support for menus. Add to this the fact that the player is free to use for ripped files, and you have a cheap solution for blu ray playback. My version has support for both discs and ripped files, so I tested both.
Unfortunately, DVDFab Media Player is not particularly consistent in playing menus. For several of my movies, like Blade Runner (Final Cut) and The Kingdom of Heaven, the menus worked as they should. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 also played the menus properly. But these were offset by some very peculiar results trying to play menus from other discs or ripped files. Here is a summary of those:
Alien … the program went into an endless loop trying to load the movie.
War Horse … freezes at the first screen shot and you have to shut down the program
Up … plays previews only and never gets to the menu or main movie
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince … one preview plays, then the program freezes
Just in case there was an issue with encryption hampering playback, I tried playing with AnyDVD HD in the background, but this didn’t change the behavior of DVDFab Media Player. At no point could I access the top menu in the problem movies, nor could I jump forward.
So if you are thinking of buying the program because of its menu support, I’d advise you to rethink that carefully. All of the other commercial programs I’ve tried can play these movies and their menus with no issues.
As a free option, to play movies ripped to the hard drive, it is not a bad choice these days. But you should expect hit or miss menu playback.