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What are Blu-ray Codecs and How to Play Blu-ray Movies?

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Blu-ray has a huge storage space, and this is where the story begins. A single layer Blu-ray disc could store data up to 25GB, and a dual layer Blu-ray disc up to 50GB. It's almost the double of HD DVD equivalent, which is the important reason why Blu-ray Disc defeated HD DVD in the war.

For the video codec, while HD DVD only supports MPEG-2 which is the same with DVD, Blu-ray disc also supports MPEG-4 AVC and SMPTE VC-1, besides MPEG-2. Below are the detailed introductions of these Blu-ray codecs. As followed, you will learn how to play with general media player and the Blu-ray player to watch Blu-ray movies without installing Blu-ray codecs.

Blu-ray Codecs

A codec is a computer program for encoding and decoding media contents with or without quality loss. Blu-ray disc mainly uses these video codecs for the high definition data storage:

MPEG-2

This is a lossy video codec used in both HD DVD and early Blu-ray Disc. Although MPEG-2 could be used as a high definition codec, it's not optimized for low bit rates (but high quality pictures). Therefore, many movie studios now switch to other video codecs for Blu-ray disc.

MPEG-4 AVC

It's the informal name of H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10 or AVC (Advanced Video Coding). MPEG-4 AVC is the most widely used video codecs in Blu-ray discs. It supports 4096x2304 pixels in resolution and up to 26.7 Mbps for bit rate. This is the optimized video codec for Blu-ray, which delivers high quality picture even at the low bit rate than MPEG-1 in VCD.

Besides used in Blu-ray discs, MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) codec is also widely adopted to stream online videos, such as YouTube, Vimeo, and the iTunes Store.

SMPTE VC-1

VC-1 is initially developed as a proprietary video format by Microsoft, and is released as a formal SMPTE standard video format on April 3, 2006. SMPTE VC-1 is the best alternative to MPEG-4 AVC codec for Blu-ray disc. It supports the interlaced video sequences without converting to progressive first. And of course, VC-1 also supports progressive content encoding.

Blu-ray Player for All Blu-ray Codecs

You could play Blu-ray movies with various Blu-ray players in Windows, such as Cyberlink's PowerDVD, Corel's WinDVD, and Arcsoft's TotalMediaTheatre. For Mac users, the option is limited. Macgo Blu-ray Player is the stated first and best Blu-ray Player for Mac (Actually both PC and Mac version available). These Blu-ray players would usually install their own video codecs for Blu-ray disc so that you don't have to install Blu-ray codec yourself. But all these Blu-ray players cost you lots of money. If necessary, try DAPlayer (freeware) or get Macgo Blu-ray Player for free 3 months.

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