blu-ray

Nero MediaHome review

Nero MediaHome is a neatly organized media manager that quickly retrieves and plays many forms of audio and video. The friendly design and reliable support make using this application easy and enjoyable. Many interesting features are available with this software, but the price of some add-ons may not be worth it.

Pros

Great interface: Nero MediaHome has a very neat and orderly layout that is quite intuitive. Regardless of your skill level, you will easily find what you're looking for because of the organization tabs and clean interface. Customizable themes are also available for free, which gives you the … Read more

Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate review

Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate converts videos between a multitude of formats and exports them to chosen devices. Version 7.0 corrects bugs related to Web downloading errors and adds support for a large number of smartphones and tablets.

Pros

One-stop video solution: Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate can edit, download, convert, and burn your videos, as well as handle well-thought-out transfers between Web, hard disks, and optical media. It packages everything in an uncomplicated, flexible, and original interface.

Speedy conversions: We managed to convert five minutes of SD MP4 files in just 15 seconds, while a feature DVD film was ripped … Read more

Leawo Blu-ray Player review

A video media playback application for optical disc and file-based content, Leawo Blu-ray Player provides a decent playback experience and is now compatible with the Windows 8 touch interface. Sadly, it lacks several important features.

Pros

Sleek interface: Heavily inspired by Windows Media Player, Leawo Blu-ray Player proves to be one of the quickest and nicest to navigate players we've tested. The intuitive settings are just one click away, and we particularly appreciated the audio output activation option through HDMI that made the connection of our laptop to an external TV much easier than with most similar applications.

Fast, … Read more

CyberLink YouCam 6 Deluxe review

CyberLink YouCam 6 Deluxe bundles Fun Webcam, Creative Camera App, Smart Work, and Easy Organization features into an all-in-one Webcam and camera utility. It edits photos and videos, adds special effects and filtering, creates video presentations with narration and desktop animation, and organizes videos and photos. Recent updates include HDR and Panorama photos and touch-friendly editing and effects. YouCam 6 Deluxe's free 30-day trial disables some filters and other features.

Pros

All-in-one: YouCam 6 Deluxe bundles a lot into one program, including fun-oriented filters and effects and other features that are all business.

Calendar view: The Calendar view organizes … Read more

Aurora Blu-ray Media Player review

Aurora Blu-ray Media Player lets you play files from a disk or from your hard drive. Whether it's YouTube videos or the latest releases on Blu-ray you want to watch, you can enjoy it right from your computer with this convenient program.

Pros

Excellent interface: All controls for this app are clear and accessible, even to users who are not familiar with this type of program. You can open any video files and begin playback directly from the app's main interface without hassle, and enjoy a crisp, clear picture in no time. And if you'd like to … Read more

CyberLink PowerDVD 14 Ultra review

CyberLink's PowerDVD 14 Ultra isn't cheap for a media player, but compared to the cost of standalone hardware for a home entertainment network, it could be quite a bargain. It's remote-compatible, plays Blu-ray, 3D, and HD video, integrates with your phone and other devices, and keeps you informed about the latest cinema and video releases.

Pros

Previews and short subjects: PowerDVD Ultra's splash screen offers quick links to video tutorials and your media library preferences. Adding media to its library is mostly automatic.

Silver lining: The 10GB of expandable cloud storage that comes free for a … Read more

HDMI vs. optical: Which digital-audio connection to use?

When it comes time to connect your shiny new sound bar or AV receiver, your two main choices are HDMI or optical digital audio.

The simplest advice is to go with HDMI when you can. But if you can't it's not the end of the world.

Here are the pros and cons of each.… Read more

Get a Blu-ray player with 3D, apps, and Wi-Fi for $49.99

Does it still make sense to own a Blu-ray player? Depends.

Do you own a 3D-capable TV? Do you not own a Roku box? Do you still like to rent or buy movies that come on shiny silver platters? Then I'd say yes, a Blu-ray player is just the thing.

Like this one: Today only, and while supplies last, Tech.Woot has the refurbished Samsung BD-EM59C Blu-ray player for $49.99, plus $5 for shipping. I've seen Blu-ray players that low before, but not with this feature set.

Specifically, the BD-EM59C does more than spin Blu-ray discs and … Read more

Top 40 must-have Blu-ray discs

As 2013 winds to a close -- and as many of you will soon be looking to spend gift cards -- we thought this was a good time to update our list of must-have Blu-ray discs. We've added three new 2013 films, each of which will max out your home theater system, both visually and aurally.

Though my face is at the top of the column, the list was compiled with input from editors John Falcone, Matthew Moskovciak, and David Katzmaier, who look at a lot of video content in their day-to-day testing of products. We also keep an eye on AVS Forum's Blu-ray picture quality and audio quality threads, and have always appreciated the site's tiered rating system.

This list is not set in stone, and we'll be adding and removing discs as new ones come out. As always, feel free to make comments and suggest your own personal favorites. They may get added to the list in the future. … Read more

20 TVs tested: Which sets can pass surround sound to a sound bar?

Here's the scenario: You bought a new TV and you're planning to use it as an AV switcher for a sound bar. It's a smart move, as most sound bars lack HDMI inputs, so you can simply connect all your gear to your TV via HDMI, and connect your TV's optical output to the sound bar.

The only problem is that most TVs dumb down incoming surround-sound audio signals to a stereo PCM signal. If you're using a sound bar that can take advantage of a true surround sound signal -- such as the Sonos PlaybarRead more