Leawo Blu-ray Player Review, a Second Look

vbimport

#1

In December of 2013, I wrote a quick review of the Leawo Blu-ray Player, which showed its relative strengths and weaknesses. Overall, that edition of the player was not a strong contender when compared to some of the more established players like PowerDVD and Arcsoft TMT.

I’ve been asked to write another review of the player, since Leawo has been working hard to improve it in the last six weeks. I applied for the free serial key that Leawo has offered and installed the latest version in my main computer.

The hardware that I’m using is slightly different this time. My older AMD/ATI HD 4850 video card was getting a bit loud for my taste, and I don’t game much anymore, so I have switched to the onboard Intel HD 4000 Graphics provided through my i5 3570k Ivy Bridge cpu.

I’ve tested Blu-ray playback through my normal players, TMT5 and TMT6, and both work very well with this hardware.


#2

The edition of the Leawo player I am using for the tests is 1.4.0.47.

Here is a snapshot of the main window:



#3

When you put a Blu-ray movie in your optical drive it will show up in the main window within one of the boxes. In my case, my Blu-ray drive is the E: drive.

Clicking on the drive icon, you will be allowed a choice of a Quick and Simple mode, which will take you to the main movie, or you can choose the Full Navigation mode, which should allow you access to the top menu of the disc.

You have the regular controls seen in most players, such as Volume Control, Fast Forward, Reverse, Chapter Advance and Back. And within the Settings, there is considerable flexibility in the program. It is possible to change rendering modes, adjust audio and subtitles, and even output to different types of audio receivers, depending on their capabilities.

Right clicking in the main window during playback is another way to access controls for the player. They do need to take the s off of Audios however. Looks like they are telling me goodbye.


#4

Now, on to the actual tests. I’ve started once again with a Blu-ray movie that has proved to be rather easy to play and access the menu. That movie is [I]Kingdom of Heaven[/I] Director’s Cut.

The Leawo player was able to play the menus in Full Navigation mode, and could jump to the main movie in the Quick and Simple mode. Playback of the movie was good, and I tested a few action scenes to make certain of this. The only downside with this particular movie is the time it takes to actually start playing. It takes about 21 seconds, compared to about 6 seconds in TMT.


#5

Results from the second movie were not nearly as good. This movie is [I]Blade Runner [/I]Final Cut.

When trying to play either the menus or the main movie, I saw terrible pixelation, and what could only be described as a strobe effect. So I was forced to change the rendering mode of the player and turn off hardware acceleration. In software mode, the player gave excellent viewing quality, but it could not find the menu. It started the main movie only.

This movie continued the trend of slow loading also.


#6

The third movie is [I]Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince[/I]. This movie does tend to cause problems, and the newer version of the Leawo player could not deal with it very well.

I briefly tried to use hardware acceleration again, but the pixelation and strobe effect came back, so I returned to software rendering, and kept that setting for the remainder of the tests.

Trying to play the menu got me to one preview, then the player hung up and had to be forcibly shut down. If you try the Quick and Simple mode, the player does eventually start the movie and plays it well, but it took over 40 seconds for it to load.


#7

I decided that I should try playing some newly released movies, to see how well the Leawo Player deals with newer versions of AACS protection.

The first of these is [I]The Spectacular Now[/I]. The Leawo player could not access the menus, and it jumps straight to the main movie.

[I]Best Man Down[/I] is the second of the new releases I tested. When I tried to access the menus, the player hung up and had to be shut down again. The quick start mode did work to play the main movie.


#8

Now we move on to Blu-ray movies ripped to the hard drive.

Unfortunately, the Leawo player has a huge drawback. It cannot play Blu-ray folders on the hard drive. So there is no way to access menus with this program for full rips of your Blu-ray videos.

You can, of course, play the appropriate playlist file, or you can navigate to the Streams folder and play the correct m2ts file, but it is not always easy to pick the correct file, and the Leawo Player will not select it for you.

If you rip your movies in ISO format, then it is relatively simple to mount them in a virtual drive and play back with the Leawo Player, but not everyone uses this method of storage. I tried this with the movie [I]Europa Report[/I], using Windows 8.1’s built in ISO mounting capability, and the player was not able to find the menu for this movie, but would play the main movie using the Quick and Simple mode.


#9

We finally come to the conclusions and assessment of this player. Frankly, I don’t see much improvement in this new edition. Menu access is very much hit or miss, mostly miss. And the player is terrible with my equipment when using hardware acceleration.

The gaping hole in playback capability of ripped Blu-ray folders has not been addressed.

If this was a completely free player, I would encourage people to try it. Leawo is, of this date, offering a free download of the program for a very limited time, but it comes without future updates. In its present state, that’s not much of a bargain if you need a program that will play menus.

If you only need something that will play the main movie, its not such a bad choice, as the picture and sound have been very good since I switched to software rendering. Your equipment may not be inherently fast enough to do this well. Hardware acceleration has been an important improvement in playback for some time.

In my last review I said that what is missing in the market is a player that can handle Blu-ray but not detect Cinavia. The earlier version did not have Cinavia detection, and though I didn’t test for Cinavia this time, I sincerely doubt it will ever appear in this player. They have no incentive to add it.

But the lack of support for ripped Blu-ray folders is a killer. There are plenty of free media players available that will play m2ts files, but not Blu-ray menus, and if Leawo wants to set their player apart, they will need add this capability.


#10

Nice review,Kerry!!:iagree:
I wonder why the path to the optical drive is left out from the “open file” menu…:confused:
Sometimes it’s handy to select a file directly from the disc’s contents…I know you can still do that through explorer,but it should also be a basic option in the player itself,especially because there are some exotic filepaths covered,while this 1 should be obvious…IMHO…:wink:


#11

[QUOTE=Kerry56;2717479]Now we move on to Blu-ray movies ripped to the hard drive.

Unfortunately, the Leawo player has a huge drawback. It cannot play Blu-ray folders on the hard drive. So there is no way to access menus with this program for full rips of your Blu-ray videos.

You can, of course, play the appropriate playlist file, or you can navigate to the Streams folder and play the correct m2ts file, but it is not always easy to pick the correct file, and the Leawo Player will not select it for you.

[/QUOTE]

Yes, it is a huge drawback that Leawo doesn’t support BD-menu for Blu-ray folders on HDD.
But Leawo can play Blu-ray folders on HDD without navigating Streams folder or similar - You can play BDMV\index.bdmv directly.


#12

BD-menu supporting in Leawo Blu-ray Player is terrible. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Sometimes it works improperly: for example I select German language in a BD-menu, but Leawo starts playing French.


#13

Thanks Kerry , I will be uninstalling this player .


#14

[QUOTE=probep;2717502]Yes, it is a huge drawback that Leawo doesn’t support BD-menu for Blu-ray folders on HDD.
But Leawo can play Blu-ray folders on HDD without navigating Streams folder or similar - You can play BDMV\index.bdmv directly.[/QUOTE]

Good point about the index file. I forgot about testing that.


#15

I don’t use subtitles and I think that a big drawback in Leawo is that you cannot disable subtitles for all movies at once - you can disable subtitle only in currently playing movie.


#16

[QUOTE=Kerry56;2717479]N
If you rip your movies in ISO format, then it is relatively simple to mount them in a virtual drive and play back with the Leawo Player, but not everyone uses this method of storage. I tried this with the movie [I]Europa Report[/I], using Windows 8.1’s built in ISO mounting capability, and the player was not able to find the menu for this movie, but would play the main movie using the Quick and Simple mode.[/QUOTE]
The Leawo player can play a movie in iso format without first mounting the iso image. You can simply load the iso directly as a file and it will play. :slight_smile:


#17

^Good to know philamber. I tested the ISO almost as an afterthought, but didn’t think to import it directly.

I see that they do have it listed in their technical specifications as a supported format: http://www.leawo.com/blu-ray-player/specs.html