All you should need is that pile of old Blu-ray disks and a Blu-ray player hooked up to your Mac, for its Retina display to be filled with high-definition movies which you’ve already paid for and don’t have to stream. But when I connected my shiny new Pioneer BDR-XD05B portable Blu-ray burner and inserted Spitfire, macOS couldn’t even guess that it is playable.
This all goes back a dozen years or so, to October 2008, when Steve Jobs decided that Macs wouldn’t support Blu-ray, which he castigated as “a bag of hurt”. There’s an inner irony here, in that the 2015 movie Steve Jobs is available on Blu-ray, and Apple hasn’t come up with a better solution than BD-R for removable bulk storage. So using a standard Mac all you’re provided with is iCloud and its iTunes Movie store, both of which you coincidentally pay Apple for.
Thankfully there are some excellent ways around this.
If you fancy using free software and ripping your Blu-ray disks to storage, you can fiddle with VLC or MKV tools and watch your movie the complicated way. I’m sure that this article will attract several comments from those who have done just that and been delighted. If you’d rather get on and enjoy watching your movies, you’ll need a proper Blu-ray player app, of which Macgo Blu-ray Player Pro from the App Store seems the best.
This isn’t a cheap option by any means, but for the price of a decent boxed set it does pretty well everything you’d wish for. There’s a free demo version on the Macgo website, and other pricing options including a one year subscription for $19.95, if you’d prefer to buy direct rather than in the App Store.
[Movie: ‘Spitfire’ by Anthony Palmer & David Fairhead. © 2018 Elliptical Wing Ltd. © 2018 Attitude Film Distribution Limited.]
Blu-ray Player Pro provides a full-featured player window which appears surprisingly small on the hugeness of a 27 inch display, but when blown up to full-screen mode it’s every bit as gorgeous as modern high-def video. Although early versions of Blu-ray Player Pro got a reputation for poor support for menus, the current release handles them excellently, and I’ve not encountered any issues with compatibility. It doesn’t, though, support playback of 4K UHD Blu-ray disks.
Being an ‘official’ Blu-ray player, it has to respect Region Codes, but gives you the standard five changes in case you need them. If you want to be region-free, then you’ll need to follow the ripping route, as far as I can tell.
Blu-ray Player Pro has plenty of bells and whistles too: it supports a range of digital audio output options, hardware acceleration, and network access for BD-J apps.
I’m a bit of a movie buff, and have been bitterly disappointed at how shallow most online movie catalogues are. Give me classics like Dziga Vertov or Bertolucci and Storaro’s Conformist (1970) on Blu-ray any day, and let me watch them as often as I want. This is perhaps an ideal time not to be heavily reliant on streaming anyway.
So dig out those Blu-ray movies, your player and Blu-ray Player Pro, and there’s another fine way to cope with lockdown.