Mac Blu-ray Player review

Macs have never supported Blu-ray, but now you can thanks to Macgo’s Mac Blu-ray Player. The software relies on the CPU to decode video and audio, so you’ll need a recent Mac. The core functionality of the media player has been extracted from VideoLAN Client (VLC), and as it’s based on that Swiss Army knife of video players, Mac Blu-ray Player will also play all manner of video from your hard disk or network.

Instead of being greeted by a fancy menu screen when you load a Blu-ray disc, you’re presented with a simple text-based interface. The program selects the first title, usually the main film feature; searching on a chapter basis can be a tortuous task. Also tricky is finding the remaining disc content.

In windowed mode, a silver tray below the video picture gives basic playback controls. There’s play/pause, stop, and a pair of buttons for track skip. Sometimes the track skip buttons failed to work after a few presses. There are no slow motion or frame-advance controls.

Selecting audio tracks is a case of suck-it-and-see. There may be several audio tracks included with a Blu-ray film and then there may be commentary, or audio description tracks to fathom out. None of the metadata about video or audio tracks is available to see, unlike VLC, which can sometimes display this.

No fancy Blu-ray disc menu screens – just one still from the film and a few text options are offered in the Navigation Panel

App stability needs improving; it sometimes quit unexpectedly or locked up. However, when playing an HD movie, there’s no escaping the great quality of the picture. In our tests, lip-synch was always correct and there were no visual artefacts from the video stream. The impressive image quality can almost make you forget the app’s idiosyncrasies, and we hope that usability will improve with time.

OUR VERDICT

Mac Blu-ray Player is the first commercial solution for playing full HD Blu-ray video on the Mac, for which it should be applauded. But Macgo is working with reverse-engineered tools devised by the open-source community, and so can’t give the full Blu-ray film experience. You can get a similar setup to this program, at no cost, by ripping the Blu-ray disc first and playing it via VLC. But if you’d prefer to play Blu-ray live from a disc, this is not just the best, it’s the only one available today.

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