Another component of the Entertainment PC has been upgraded to HD. Now that a winner has been chosen in the next-generation HD disc war, I figured it was time to make a purchase (even though it didn’t really matter with the choice I made). I bought the LG Super Multi Blue Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD-ROM drive. It will play Blu-ray, HD-DVD, and standard DVD discs as well as burn DVD’s.
The setup was pretty straight-forward. It installed like a standard DVD drive, though it was a little bit longer than most. I guess they needed to make room for those extra lasers. Once the drive was functioning, it was just a matter of getting the software to work correctly. This turned out to be more of a headache than I thought. If you don’t know anything about the new HD disc formats, they are loaded down with DRM. If you’re even thinking about playing them, you have to have a a video card AND monitor that can handle HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection). According to the documentation on both my video card, (ATI Radeon HD 2400) and TV (Magnavox 37MF337B), they are HDCP compliant. Um… the new drive thought differently.
The other key to this whole setup was software used to play HD content. I had been using Cyberlink PowerDVD as my DVD player in the entertainment computer, so a simple update to the newest version of that software was supposedly all I needed. Again, I was wrong. So, everything was hooked up, the software was upgraded, it’s time to fire up my Blu-ray copy of Planet Earth (thanks Netflix!), and see what happens. Once the disc is inserted, PowerDVD comes up and shows the FBI warning in beautiful HD quality, then gives me an HDCP error and says it cannot play… lovely! There is really no reason why this shouldn’t work. The (HDCP compliant) hardware and software a totally capable of playing a Blu-ray disc. Once again DRM ruins the day. I started digging around the web for fixes, and didn’t really come up with anything. What I did run across was a lovely little application called SlySoft AnyDVD that totally removed the evil DRM bit when playing HD content. I downloaded their demo and gave it a try. Sure enough, the disc played just fine. I didn’t want to have to hack this for it to work. After a little more digging, I found another update/patch for PowerDVD, that wasn’t mentioned anywhere other than a small area of their site and figured, what have I got to lose. After installing that, and disabling AnyDVD, it finally worked. It shouldn’t be this hard!
I guess the morale of the story is DRM SUCKS! It really just puts up barriers for people who want to use the technology legitimately. I’m not trying to rip HD content, I’m not trying to play illegal content from the Internet. All I wanted to do is play a Blu-ray disc on a computer and player that should be able to play it. I was finally able to get to that point (after quite a headache). And at least it’s good to know that AnyDVD is there if you need it.