Play HD movies on a computer with a blue ray recorder

blue ray recorderA blue ray recorder is an easy and powerful upgrade to a computer or Home Theater PC (HTPC). By installing a blue ray recorder and not just a blue ray player, the computer gets the ability to play as well as record movies and data. Blue ray recorder prices have dropped dramatically and they are only slightly more expensive than blue ray player drives. With a blue ray recorder, a computer can play blue ray movies as well as record movies and data. Blue ray discs can store 25 and 50GB worth of data on a single disk. This is 5 times what a DVD disc can store. For example, it is possible to store a whole season's worth of HD content for a one hour show on a single blue ray disc.

Make sure the computer is HD compatible

Before adding a blue ray recorder to a computer, make sure it has enough horse power to play blue ray movies. HD movies come in 720p, 1080i, or 1080p resolutions. The three most important parts for HD playback are the video card, monitor and CPU. The computer's CPU should be relatively new and a least dual core with at least 1 gigabyte of ram. The video card should be able to play 1080p resolution movies and the monitor should have at least 720p or higher resolution display. Obviously it is a waste of equipment to get a monitor that only does 720p if the rest of the system can play higher resolution content. Finally, the connection between the video card and monitor should be digital, preferably through HMDI. Fortunately, the computer requirements for recording blue ray discs are much less stringent. If a computer can handle play HD back, it can record blue ray discs.

The computer should also comply with the High-definition Content Protection (HDCP) specifications. The HDCP is the movie studio's mechanism to prevent users from copying their movies like many have done with DVD. It requires that the components through the playback chain be HDCP compliant. The most important part if for the video card and monitor has a HDMI or DVI connection. HDMI is preferred as it carries both digital video and audio in the same cable. Some movies will allow playback through an analog connection like VGA connection but video quality is much lower than through a digital connection. Finally the computer needs to have a HDCP compliant graphics driver and a blue ray playback program.

Finding the right blue ray recorder

SATA port

Finding the best blue ray DVD burner for a specific need can be confusing. For desktop computers or a HTPC, an internal blue ray recorder is probably the best solution. Internal recorders are better than external recorders in that they consume less power, are less expensive and are one less component to clutter up an area. However, an internal blue ray player requires a spare 5.25 inch slot, an available serial ATA (SATA) port and a power connection port. The computer's power supply should also be checked to make sure it can handle the additional power requirements of the blue ray player. If the computer cannot support these requirements, an external blue ray recorder is a better solution.

Blue ray recorder installation

SATA power cable

Once it has been determined that a computer is suitable to add a blue ray recorder, it is actually time do the installation. Insert the blue ray recorder into the 5.25 inch slots rails. There are typically screws or other lock downs to hold the drive in place. Unlike IDE, the SATA can only support one device per cable. If there is not a free SATA connection, a SATA port multiplier will allow one SATA port to connect many devices. In addition, the SATA cable should not be more than 3 feet long from the SATA port on the motherboard to the blue ray recorder. The SATA cable is designed to connect in only one direction it is simple to hook up. Next, the power blue ray recorder needs to be connected to the computer's power supply. If there is not an available power connection for the new blue ray recorder, there are many methods for adding SATA power connection from a traditional MOLEX connection. After all of the hardware is connected, power on the computer to make sure that the drive spins up. The recorder should show up on the BIOS screen. Sometimes the drive will show up as a DVD drive- that is no problem. Once you are assured that the blue ray recorder is installed correctly, shut down the computer and reassemble it. Restart the computer and install the desired HD player and blue ray recorder software.