Need recommendation for affordable, high-quality Blu-Ray burner

vbimport

#1

I’m looking for a Blu-Ray burner (either internal or external) with the following attributes.

  1. Is an overall high-quality drive, and plays and burns Blu-Rays, DVDs, and CDs very well. I want something that will provide smooth playback and very high-quality, long-lasting burns.

  2. Is non-riplocked. I will need to do some Blu-Ray ripping, so I do not want any riplock. I am aware that some riplocked drives can have their riplock removed, but this can void the warranty, something I don’t want to do (unless the drive is extremely affordable).

  3. Can be bought (new, reburbished, whatever) at an affordable price, preferably $80 or less, and comes with a warranty (unless it’s very cheap).

  4. Can be found (at the aforementioned price) bundled with software than can play commercial Blu-Rays. I cannot afford to buy Blu-Ray playing software separately (unless someone can recommend a low-priced software that will play commercial Blu-Ray - I haven’t come across any yet).

I was planning on buying the LG WH14NS40, as it seemingly covered all of these bases. It’s affordable, non-riplocked, got mostly good reviews, and can be gotten bundled with Cyberlink Blu-Ray software for under $80. However, while reading these forums, I came across a post saying that LG burners such as this one are not very good when it comes to burning.

Here is the post in question. The relevant portion is as follows:

As a burner, I would not recommend any of them. Far from it. Get a Pioneer or LiteOn instead. They are much better burners in my opinion.

So can anyone here conform whether or not the LG WH14NS40 is indeed poor at burning, or recommend a better burner than fits my requirements?


#2

The most recommended drives around here for good quality Blu-ray burns are the Pioneers. The current retail model is the 2209, which should come with software.

LG should still be a solid second choice for burning. And I’ve found my older LG BD drive is a much better reader than my Pioneer 207MBK.

I don’t know if the 209/2209 drives are riplocked, since I haven’t used one, but word on the forums is that they are not.

One thing to keep in mind about the Cyberlink software included with drives. It is usually crippled in some manner. I had PowerDVD with my first Blu-ray burner, and it would not output anything but stereo audio. No 5.1 or better. Also, updates to the software ended very quickly. When asked about this, Cyberlink replied that you should use their offer for a small discount to upgrade to their full version. Blu-ray software goes out of date because of new forms of AACS encryption, so an older version will be limited in function and will work on newer discs only if they are decrypted.


#3

[QUOTE=Kerry56;2724159]The most recommended drives around here for good quality Blu-ray burns are the Pioneers. The current retail model is the 2209, which should come with software.

LG should still be a solid second choice for burning. And I’ve found my older LG BD drive is a much better reader than my Pioneer 207MBK.[/QUOTE]So the LG I linked to should be able to create some long-lasting burns at about 4x speed?

One thing to keep in mind about the Cyberlink software included with drives. It is usually crippled in some manner. I had PowerDVD with my first Blu-ray burner, and it would not output anything but stereo audio. No 5.1 or better. Also, updates to the software ended very quickly. When asked about this, Cyberlink replied that you should use their offer for a small discount to upgrade to their full version. Blu-ray software goes out of date because of new forms of AACS encryption, so an older version will be limited in function and will work on newer discs only if they are decrypted.

Is there any affordable software that you know of that will play commercial, encrypted Blu-Rays (menus and all)?

Also, is freeware like DVDF​ab Pass​key Lite generally reliable for decrypting Blu-Rays that are 6 or more months old so another program (that plays but doesn’t decrypt Blu-Ray) can play them?


#4

The LG should be a fairly good burner. You have to remember that folks around here like to split hairs on burning quality, and their definition of an excellent burn may be a bit extreme. :slight_smile:

It is just as important to choose good media. Verbatim generally burns well, but longevity is still unknown. Don’t use the LTH variety of Verbatim. Panasonic discs may be the best available, but are hard to find in the US. I use FTI/Falcon discs sold under the SmartBlu brand and they have been excellent so far. What you don’t want are Ritek made discs sold under a variety of brands, like Memorex and Ridata.

Playback of menus in Blu-ray is a problem for the companies that are not licensed by the AACS LA. And those players that have such a license tend to be expensive. A few months ago, Amazon had Arcsoft TMT 6 on sale for $30, but that was short-lived and very unusual. If you look around the net, you can usually find a coupon for Arcsoft TMT 6, but even with the coupon that just knocks it down to the same price level as WinDVD or PowerDVD.

Many free players will playback Blu-ray fairly well, but have no menu support. Media Player Classic Home Cinema, VLC, PotPlayer and VSO Media Player are a few of these. They won’t decrypt anything however, so straight from the disc is out, unless you use Passkey or AnyDVD HD in the background. I’ve never used Passkey, so can’t advise you on it.

DVDFab Media Player will playback menus on some, but not all movies, and it is free to use with ripped files. To play from the disc, you’d have to pay for it, and it is certainly not worth buying because of its inconsistencies. The same goes for the Leawo player.

So if you are going to spend money on a player, get Arcsoft, WinDVD, PowerDVD or the Nero player included in their software suite. They will play menus. They will also honor Cinavia, which is a problem for any ripped files from Sony movies.


#5

[QUOTE=Kerry56;2724211]The LG should be a fairly good burner. You have to remember that folks around here like to split hairs on burning quality, and their definition of an excellent burn may be a bit extreme. :)[/QUOTE]So, disregarding bundled software and assuming that neither is riplocked, (and keeping in mind that my computer’s graphics card, while HD-capable, is rather low-end - an integrated ATI Radeon 4200) which do you think is likely to be better overall for playing and burning, the LG or the Pioneer?

It is just as important to choose good media. Verbatim generally burns well, but longevity is still unknown. Don’t use the LTH variety of Verbatim. Panasonic discs may be the best available, but are hard to find in the US. I use FTI/Falcon discs sold under the SmartBlu brand and they have been excellent so far. What you don’t want are Ritek made discs sold under a variety of brands, like Memorex and Ridata.
Speaking of Verbatim, how good are their DVD-Rs?

Regarding longevity, I thought it was proven in a French studythat Verbatims have significantly less longevity than Panasonic?

I’m aware that LTH discs are not as good as HTL ones. However, it’s been difficult for me to find out whether BD-Rs for sale are HTL or LTH. For example, this one doesn’t have anything on the labeling or anything on the Amazon page saying whether it’s HTL or LTH.

I’m particuarly interested in these Panasonic BD-Rs, but again, there’s nothing saying whether they are LTH or HTL.

So if you are going to spend money on a player, get Arcsoft, WinDVD, PowerDVD or the Nero player included in their software suite. They will play menus. They will also honor Cinavia, which is a problem for any ripped files from Sony movies.
Out of those, WinDVD appears to be the most affordable, closely followed by Cyberlink (at least as long as it’s on sale for about $50, which it currently is). How do their licenses work - do you have to pay for a renewal every year? How long do you get free updates with them? Do either of them also play ripped files?


#6

CD and DVD disc models made directly by Verbatim/MKM itself is good. The BD media, however, was not quite as good. Similar to TY/JVC media being better if it’s their CD or DVD (even their rare DVD-R DL, when written with the right drive), but the BD-R is just okay. Early drives were not quite as happy to burn them, though newer drives will produce somewhat better results. (Still not as good as the best media, though.)

Also, to the best of my knowledge, if you get a Panasonic disc not produced by MEI/Panasonic itself, it will still be a disc that isn’t LTH. (And if you get a Panasonic/MEI-made disc it should be okay, regardless of brand, though they will not all burn with perfect quality).


#7

So, disregarding bundled software and assuming that neither is riplocked, (and keeping in mind that my computer’s graphics card, while HD-capable, is rather low-end - an integrated ATI Radeon 4200) which do you think is likely to be better overall for playing and burning, the LG or the Pioneer?

You won’t notice any difference in playing between the drives. For hard to read discs (scratches or failing burns) I believe the LG would be slightly better at reading. Burning edge goes to the Pioneer by all reports, but I don’t have direct experience with this. My LG is a much older model, and gives excellent burns. It may be my best drive for burning cd’s for example.

Verbatim DVD’s are one of the types we recommend most around here. Get the ones with AZO on the label, and don’t buy their “Life Series” discs, since these are plain CMC Magnetics mid codes.

The French study is often quoted around here, since it seems to be the only torture test available to the public. User testing does not support the results so far however, as there have been very, very few reports of Verbatim Blu-ray media failing after being burned. This is unlike Ritek and Philips discs, and discs manufactured by MBI, which do have a number of users reporting failures.

The Verbatim BD-R discs in your Amazon link are the regular, inorganic dye HTL discs. On the side of the cakebox you can see M A B L over the words Hard Coat. This is found on the good discs. The LTH discs will have LTH prominently displayed on the cakebox, as in this link.

As far as I am aware, there are only two companies selling LTH media. Those are Verbatim and JVC/That’s (owned by Taiyo Yuden). The Panasonic discs are HTL.

Out of those, WinDVD appears to be the most affordable, closely followed by Cyberlink (at least as long as it’s on sale for about $50, which it currently is). How do their licenses work - do you have to pay for a renewal every year? How long do you get free updates with them? Do either of them also play ripped files?

The license for those players is good only for the duration of that version of the player. In other words, you buy PowerDVD 13, and it is good for any updates to the number 13 version…13.1, 13.2, etc. When they get tired of providing free updates, they simply tack a new version number on the software. So, once PowerDVD 14 comes out, updates to version 13 will slow, then stop entirely within a short time period.

The players will work with various types of media files. Playing ripped Blu-ray, I think they differ a bit. As I recall, WinDVD wouldn’t play Blu-ray on the hard drive, but I only had the trial for 11.5, and can’t confirm that. Arcsoft and PowerDVD both play ripped Blu-ray folders, but they must have changed that in PowerDVD at some point, because my earlier version wouldn’t do that.

The big problem with the AACS accredited players is that they must detect Cinavia in ripped files now. PowerDVD ignores that signal in mkv or mp4 files, but honors it in ripped Blu-ray and burned Blu-ray discs. TMT6 honors the flag in everything except original Blu-ray discs.


#8

[QUOTE=Kerry56;2724229]
The license for those players is good only for the duration of that version of the player. In other words, you buy PowerDVD 13, and it is good for any updates to the number 13 version…13.1, 13.2, etc. When they get tired of providing free updates, they simply tack a new version number on the software. So, once PowerDVD 14 comes out, updates to version 13 will slow, then stop entirely within a short time period.[/QUOTE]

How long is that usually (2 years, 4 years)?

Arcsoft and PowerDVD both play ripped Blu-ray folders, but they must have changed that in PowerDVD at some point, because my earlier version wouldn’t do that.
Do you mean that PowerDVD used to play ripped Blu-Ray folders and stopped doing so, or that they used to not and started to?


#9

Apparently PowerDVD has responded to criticism of their update policy and are providing updates to older versions far better than they once did. Here is the page at Wikipedia showing the update cycle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PowerDVD

So it looks like you’ll get three years minimum from their software if you buy the current version.

There was quite a lot of controversy concerning PowerDVD abandoning playback of Blu-ray files on the hard drive. I don’t remember which version this was, but was probably back in 2008 or so. They have since added it back into the program, as I am able to play from folders on the hard drive using PowerDVD 13.

I very much prefer an older version of Arcsoft TMT 5 for movie playback personally. And PowerDVD has an unfortunate tendency to try to take over file associations, so my preferences go beyond the user interface of that program.


#10

[QUOTE=Kerry56;2724247]I very much prefer an older version of Arcsoft TMT 5 for movie playback personally. And PowerDVD has an unfortunate tendency to try to take over file associations, so my preferences go beyond the user interface of that program.[/QUOTE]Unfortunately, Arcsoft is prohibitively expensive for me.

How bad is the Cyberlink file association problem? Can it be easily fixed and/or prevented?

Also, I’ve heard that it causes Windows Update to start running automatically, even if you previously had it set to ask before updating. Is that true, and if so, can it easily be remedied?


#11

How bad is the Cyberlink file association problem? Can it be easily fixed and/or prevented?
Its just an annoyance and can be fixed easily enough by changing the default program for each type of media file that the program takes over.

Also, I’ve heard that it causes Windows Update to start running automatically, even if you previously had it set to ask before updating. Is that true, and if so, can it easily be remedied?
This is news to me, but then again, I have Windows Update on automatic, so I would not have seen it.

If you are going to buy a retail version of a Blu-ray drive, you should try out the Blu-ray player software that comes with it and see if it suits your needs. It won’t hurt to try and you can always get a better version later.