VLC is one of the most widely used media players. It was one of the first open source media players to get encrypted DVD playback capability, and now, it looks like the time has come for Blu-ray playback capability also.

Playback of unencrypted Blu-ray ISOs and folder structures has been possible without menus since VLC 1.2. VLC also has a GPLed open source library for the implementation of the AACS specifications. From the end-user's perspective, the big missing piece of the puzzle was the AACS keys database and how to get it integrated with the VLC installation. A simple Google search was enough to reveal the key (pun intended).

The above configuration should help people with the playback of most of the older Blu-rays, while the more recent ones could be a hit or a miss. Will this be enough to replace commercial Blu-ray players like the ones from ArcSoft, Corel or Cyberlink? Unfortunately, that is still quite some time off. The following aspects need to be resolved for that to happen:

  • Audio codecs: There are no open source DTS-HD decoders available. VLC will only decode the Dolby Digital / Dolby TrueHD / LPCM / core DTS tracks in the audio stream. HD audio bitstreaming is also not currently supported.
  • PiP features: There is no support for Blu-ray Picture-in-Picture (PiP) features yet, but this should be possible considering that the VLM already supports generation of PiP output.
  • BD-Live: It can be safely said that VLC will probably never get BD-Live features which require BDA licensing. That said, I am not really sure BD-Live features are actually beneficial to the consumers in any way (I would love to hear feedback from readers on this).
  • Menu functionality: This is probably the most requested feature when one analyzes Blu-ray playback support. Fortunately, a recent tweet from a VLC developer indicates that a lot of progress has been made towards this functionality. It should get integrated into the main branch in time for the release of VLC 2.1 / 3.0. We are keeping a close watch on the development of this feature for VLC.

Blu-ray Menu Functionality in VLC (Courtesy: Hugo Beauzée-Luyssen)

The AACS keys will never be part of the official VLC releases (since it enables copy protection circumvention), but open source support for Blu-ray playback is bound to be a boost for the format amongst the consumers (though the licensing entities are going to fret the loss of revenue). If VLC gets full menu support along with HD audio bitstreaming for unprotected Blu-ray ISOs, that will be a huge step forward for the Blu-ray format.

Source: Google Search

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  • Johnmcl7 - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    I was going to make the same comment about BD-Live, I was watching the Green Hornet the other day and I was surprised at how intrusive the adverts were. On the home screen it had a large panel at the top right flicking through different adverts and it was highlighted instead of play movie by default so when you pressed enter to start the film it instead launched the site for the trailer. Having never seen anything useful with BD-live either I'd see it as a plus if it wasn't supported.

    It is one feature I miss from old magnetic VHS tapes that you could just mechanically fast forward the adverts at the start of a film.

  • Braumin - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    My pet peeve is when I buy a new Blu-Ray movie (like the day it comes out) and then I go to watch it and my player needs a key update, but there is no update available.


    Thanks DRM.

    If I would have just pirated the movie, it would just work.

    Their business model is seriously broken when they just hinder honest consumers.
  • noeldillabough - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    My dad bought a blu-ray player when avatar came out, let me tell you when he found out you had to update the firmware to watch it, he freaked! I gave him an iso of the pirate movie while I flashed his player lol, so sad that they force paying customers to go this way. It should never be more convenient to the pirates!

    Because of this I predict optical disks will disappear and soon. Amazon prime, iTunes etc are very convenient.
  • Soulkeeper - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    I won't buy blu-ray until fully cracked.
    This is a good start.
  • brucek2 - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    Setting aside the advantages of no cost and open source, one of the other reasons this is important news is that it means VLC might be able to offer a good BluRay player, which is something that seems to have so far eluded all the commercial contenders.

    PowerDVD came with my system. Compared to VLC, the program takes forever to start up and then forever again to start playing a new disc. There are plenty of navigation commands offered in the menus and in keys, but somehow not one of them will reliably and cleanly get me to where I want to go without a lot of awkward stutters, pauses, retries, etc. The UI is cluttered with a lot of self-promotion for player upgrades and pushes features that seem at best peripheral and at worst downright disruptive of my overall viewing experience. And then there's the discs with the many minutes of forced previews I really don't need to see when all I was hoping to do was share a scene I really liked with a friend.

    You'd think the commercially supported efforts should enjoy a big advantage over VLC, but if anything it seems the reverse.
  • Bateluer - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    PowerDVD BD came with the BD drive I bought a while back, and its exactly you describe. Bloated, slow, crappy UI, etc. Complete and utter junk.

    I was a little excited to finally be able to play BD content on my PC, but with the shitty players available, its not worth the effort. The first few BDs I bought, I ended up having to rip and transcode them just to play them effectively. Now, I end up waiting until the BD version is vastly discounted, and then grab the 1080p BD rip from a torrent site. I think my copy of the Expendables still has the seal tape on the plastic. :/

    Irritating as hell.

    I'm still mystified with PowerDVD feels the need to turn off Aero to 'improve performance' on my i5 2400, 8GB of RAM, and Radeon 6950 too. VLC can play back a lossless 1080p rip without a hiccup.
  • mi1stormilst - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    LOL! Seriously mine still work to this day with no silliness or updates they just work and look every bit as good as my Blu-Ray discs. Why are there still sooo many hassles with Blu-Ray?
  • Rick83 - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    The point of BD was to be more of a hassle than HD-DVD. That's how they won the format war.
  • Fujikoma - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    Personally, there should be a date stamp in the player. Any movie older than a month is required to boot straight to the menu. Newer films would be permitted to start with trailers, but the owner can still fast forward through them. After the first month, then you'd need to watch trailers by navigating through the menu system.
    I rip mine because:
    1. I don't want everyone messing with the original discs (reduce damage and they stay categorized)
    2. $300 was cheap enough for a player and 4 TB of storage space
    3. Any family member can use it and find what they want
    4. Even I get irritated with all the garbage that pops up before I can even play the movie
    5. I don't have to wait for a disc to boot before going through the garbage
  • aliasfox - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    Does this mean that Macs with an aftermarket blu-ray drive will be able to play blu-ray discs?

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