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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Blu-ray Players

PCs now ready for Blu movies

Playback software supporting Blu-ray (BD) commercial movies, and video cards certified for High Definition Copy Protection (HDCP) are now readily available, which means BD disc drives can now be used to their full potential.

Sony's AU$1399 BWU-100A can now play commercial Blu-ray movies

Playback software supporting Blu-ray (BD) commercial movies, and video cards certified for High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) are now readily available, which means BD disc drives can now be used to their full potential.

CyberLink has released an update to its PowerDVD software suite that enables support for LG's BD drives, while Sony has issued a PowerDVD update on its own Web site, adding support for its BWU-100A BD drive.

"Beginning in October, Sony will provide purchasers of the BWU-100A Blu-ray Disc Rewritable drive with an upgrade to the CyberLink PowerDVD software which will provide BD-ROM playback compatibility. This upgrade, which has been previously unavailable, will be offered as an electronic download and will be free of charge," said Sony in a statement.

The updates come after CNET.com.au reported in August that Sony's BWU-100A drive would not support the playback of commercial Blu-ray movies, since HDCP-compliant graphics cards and off-the-shelf playback software weren't yet available.

HDCP encrypts the digital signal output from a Blu-ray player, and to decrypt this signal, a HDCP-compliant graphics card that offers DVI or HDMI connections is required. Currently, HDCP-compliant cards include Nvidia's GeForce 7600 GT, 7800 GTX, 7900 GX2, 7900 GTX and 7950 GX2 range, and ATI's X1600, X1800 and X1900 chips.

HD DVD, the other next-generation disc format that's currently competing with Blu-ray to be the successor to regular DVD, also requires specially tailored playback software and HDCP-compliant graphics. CyberLink's PowerDVD supports HD DVD, but desktop HD DVD drives are yet to reach Australian shores.

The primary advantage next-gen DVD formats offer over regular DVD is the ability to store high-definition (1080i/p) video content, which results in enhanced picture detail.

Blu-ray and HD DVD commercial movies aren't yet available to buy in Australia, but the first shipment of titles is expected to arrive before the end of the year.