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I pulled my hair out for hours trying to find the best way to get my Windows Vista Ultimate HTPC to support Blu-ray. Here are my requirements.


1. Play Blu-ray and HD DVD’s directly from Media Center.
2. Native Media Center remote support.
3. Backup my Blu-ray and HD DVD’s to hard disk.
4. Play the backup from the folder on the hard disk.
5. Not take extra steps in the backup process (i.e. creating iso files)
6. Do this with as few programs as possible.

There are guides out there to help with this, like Revision3’s System. But their recommendations fell short of my needs because they suggested CyberLink PowerDVD 8. While this program is very nice, it does not support HD DVD, does not integrate with Media Center, does not integrate the Media Center remote (without the need for additional software **Update 9/17/2008: CyberLink now does function using the Media Center remote. But you still need the extra software to get the menu to pop-up**), and would not play the backups directly from the folder.

So, leaving the nuts and bolts out of it, and assuming you already have all the hardware you need installed and configured correctly, below are my steps and recommendations. I make no guarantees, but the below steps worked perfect for me and met all of my requirements listed above.
Two applications are all you need to get this job done. AnyDVD HD allow for the backup your DVD's to your hard disk drive. TotalMedia Theatre provides full Blu-ray and HD DVD playback and fully integrates with Media Center out of the box. Because of this integration the remote works flawlessly. TotalMedia also has the ability to play the backup videos from thier folders (Not launched from Media Center though. To play your backups you must launch them using the TotalMedia application not via Media Center).

user Posted by John "Mike" Wright

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8 comments

  1. Jean-Philippe  

    Mike,

    Thanks for the information.

    Does this setup work with extenders? I have a WHS streaming to an Xbox360, and this would be a great solution for me if it did.

    J-P

  2. Mike  

    I really don't know. You can run trial versions of each program so you will only be out a little time in testing it, if it does not work. Give it a shot and let us know.

  3. jason  

    Mike,

    i have both programs installed and have ripped the blue ray movie.

    how do i select and play the blue ray file from within media center.

    i can exit to windows and select the folder where the blue ray is ripped but I would like to have a blueray library like with my dvd's

  4. Mike  

    As far as I can tell, you need to exit Media Center and use ArcSoft to select the folder. You will only be able to play your Disks in Media Center. That's what i have found anyway.

  5. Ed  

    Mike,

    Thanks for your post. I am interested in this solution for my Vista media center pc. I will need to purchase an external Blue Ray player and connect it via USB. Is your Blue Ray player internal or external? If internal, is there any reason why you believe this wouldn't work using a USB-connected player?

    Thanks in advance

    -Ed

  6. Mike  

    Ed... I do not know of any reason that an external BluRay Drive would not work as described. My only concern when using an USB drive for BD playback would be data transfer speed. Be sure your system is USB 2.0 compliant. The drive I installed is the LG GGC-H20L. This drive met my HD/BD requirements. LG makes an external BD, USB 2.0, external drive (BE06LU11). I have done no testing or research, so don't take my word for it and make sure you find the drive that fits your needs.
    Thanks.

  7. mason k  

    Hi Mike...that's nice, but I want to be able to play my backups from Media Center. To me, that's basically the point of going to the great expense of making the backups - that I can search for a movie I want to watch from within a unified interface. This is especially important for my girlfriend, who wouldn't grok the difference. It has to be a unified interface for her. Any idea how to get TMT to automatically play BRD folders from MCE?

  8. Mike  

    I do not know of a way mason. I find that the problem is searching out the data folder, that is why it is a manual process. What I do is put friendly names on the backups and show my family members how to navigate them. If it is something that they want to use a lot, and this becomes an issue, I suggest using a product such as DVDFab to convert your videos to AVI's. This is what I will do for the kids shows.

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