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PowerDVD issues - correctable or alternate software?

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August 8, 2011 8:18:28 PM

Last November, I bought an HTPC and a Plextor external Blu-Ray drive which came with PowerDVD 9, and I succumbed to the prompts to upgrade it to 10 (though it still pops up offers to upgrade to their media suite package or some such).

For a while, it's been okay except for the occasional failure to pick up where it left off (I've tried bookmarking, but since the bookmarks are kept per-dvd, if it doesn't offer to resume, the bookmarks are gone as well). I haven't figured out what triggers that failure, but recently it has been getting stuck on a black screen instead of properly playing discs. It's possible that installing a pre-release version of the iWin Games Manager, plus Jewel Quest Online Party and Wordscape Online Party caused the second failure to start happening, but I'm not sure.

I had VLC player already installed, so I was able to use that to avoid the black-screen problem, but setting bookmarks is challenging in that one, since the "Manage Bookmarks" dialog disappears when the cursor moves out of it (at least in fullscreen mode). Also, I can't confirm that it saves the bookmarks between launches. On a side note, I liked the bookmark handling in PowerDVD 9 better, since it could be done on a pure keyboard without using a pointing device, but I think it was susceptible to the same bookmark loss problem.

Sometimes I watch anime on my gaming rig in my bedroom using Media Player Classic Home Cinema (as installed with the Combined Community Codec Pack), but that wouldn't cut it for the HTPC, because my family often rents other DVDs that have closed captions but not subtitles, because MPCHC doesn't support closed captions. (the most recent example of a disc where we wanted the closed captions instead of subtitles was a Star Trek series disc that had closed captions in English, but only Spanish and French for the subtitles)

If there is a way to make PowerDVD work better, or should I switch to something different? I don't insist that it be free software, as long as I can be sure ahead of time that it will do what I want it to (possibly by letting someone else who already has the software confirm it). Here are the features I'm looking for (some of which might help explain why I bought an HTPC instead of a straight blu-ray player):
1. Automatic aspect ratio adjustment (some dvds are written for 4:3 aspect, some are written for 16:9 - and before you jump on me about some having 2.35:1 or other aspect ratios, those are actually letterboxed to fit into 4:3 or 16:9)
2. Closed caption support (without requiring 480i output which would make the TV show the captions - the current TV doesn't detect the aspect ratio from the disc being played, though I've read there are some that can)
3. Resume capability of some sort - manually set bookmarks/favorites like MPCHC are okay, being able to set them with just the keyboard would be a mild bonus, but automatically remembering my position (at least for the last several discs) would be best.
4. Blu-Ray playback ability (can be a separate program than what I use for DVDs if necessary, as the first two items don't apply; I've read that some blu-ray discs refuse to support arbitrary stop/resume points, but that's only appropriate for games, rather than movies or tv series on blu-ray; if there are any movies on blu-ray with such a restriction, I will seek to avoid them or get the DVD instead)
August 8, 2011 11:48:29 PM

Unfortunately, all 3 of those choices require my email address for the trial (ArcSoft and Nero request it before even letting me download the trial, and Corel requests it when I first run the trial), which doesn't make sense to me. I'd rather wait to see if other users who have already bought other software can confirm that one of them does what I'm looking for.

Arcsoft Total Media looks like it covers 1,2, and 4, but the quality of its handling of #3 is less clear. Nero Multimedia Suite, from what I can find in the online manual, fails #2 and #3. I don't find an online manual for Corel WinDVD to verify whether it meets my requirements.
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August 9, 2011 12:14:28 AM

I own powerdvd,windvdpro 2010,and nero 10 hd,they all do some things but they don't cover all your bases!

[:briovaz:3]
August 9, 2011 4:59:46 AM

That narrows things down a bit, so I went ahead and downloaded the ArcSoft trial on my gaming rig, and it definitely supports #1 and #2 (once I remembered to disable stereo in my iZ3D anaglyph driver so it wouldn't crash). The trial doesn't claim to support #4 (blu-ray playback), which isn't surprising - I've gotten the impression that the Blu-ray Disc Association only allows paid software to support blu-ray playback. I'm fairly sure the full version will support it. It also passed my preliminary test for #3 (multi-disc resume) once I adjusted the settings for that, but I'll have to run the trial on the HTPC for several days before I can decide if it's more reliable than PowerDVD. I'll install it on that machine in the morning.
August 9, 2011 11:40:48 AM

I have PowerDVD Ultra,WinDVD PRO 2010,and NERO HD PLATINUM,of the three i use Nero the most for playing back blu-ray,but I have heard arcsoft is real good.
August 13, 2011 3:02:28 PM

I'm not encouraged by ArcSoft right now. Many times when I launch it and start the DVD, I get audio with black video (except possibly a menu highlight), and have to relaunch to get the video back. However, when I installed Combined Community Codec Pack, it complained about the latest DirectX End User Runtime not being installed, and when I tried, that failed to install, so there may be some underlying problem.

MPCHC seems to run okay anyway, so I'll try that for a while (for DVDs; I'll stick with PowerDVD for blu-ray), and try to live with the lack of closed caption support (or is there a way to add support, such as with an external filter?). I hadn't noticed "Remember DVD position" in the options dialog until I looked through it this morning after installing on my HTPC, but I know the Favorites menu is reliable.
August 20, 2011 12:42:13 AM

Update: the favorites in MPCHC haven't been working as well on my HTPC as they do on my gaming rig, so I'm thinking the external blu-ray drive may be part of the problem. I'm going to try running DVDs from the Dell's internal drive instead and see if it does any better.
August 20, 2011 2:39:34 PM

Okay, the MPCHC favorites did no better with the internal dvd drive, so I'm guessing there's something else that's conflicting. I see two obvious choices:
1. try to accept the issue and get used to navigating the dvd menus to get to the right scene (or episode, as the case may be)
2. wipe the hd and reinstall the OS and applications (it's a pure htpc, I don't keep backup-worthy data on it)
Option 2 seems a bit drastic, so I'm open to other suggestions.
July 25, 2013 9:36:56 PM

This thread is almost 2 years old, and no longer relevant. My parents found it difficult to operate the HTPC without me. Now I'm using a PS3 to play dvds on, sending a 480i signal over component cables so I can get the closed captions, though it's hooked up with hdmi as well in case I want to play blu-ray, though I'm not sure my 1366x768 resolution TV can really do a blu-ray justice. I might eventually look for a TV with built-in dvd player so that I don't have to guess whether I set the aspect ratio correctly, but I can't justify the expense at this time.
!