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What DVD or Blu-Ray drive should I buy?

May 10, 2010

Update: Right, Blu-Ray drives are getting cheaper now. Maybe I’ll get one of those. Recommendations there are also welcome.

The ongoing saga to build a HTPC running open source has been what, three years now? After giving up on having TV support through the HTPC and buying a LCD TV with VGA input, things are pretty good. But I have one problem. My DVD drive, a Pioneer of some sort, will fail on any sort of read error from a DVD, causing playback to stop, no matter if I use XMBC, VLC or Mplayer. My MacBook running the same software will often succeed. With the DVD I rented yesterday, Mplayer will output an error, but there is no noticable problem in the output. VLC will play happily. But on the HTPC both will simply fail. The same DVD will also play on my Windows machine (but using different software).

So I did an experiment, I switched my 3 year old Pioneer drive (which I bought mainly because it was black) with the 7 year old Philips DVDR1640. Well, it didn’t work out. XBMC and VLC will just refuse to play the DVD completely. Mplayer plays it, but claims my system is too slow, and the playback is stuttering stop/start. But, it did play past the place it stopped playing with the Pioneer drive.

So, clearly, all DVD drives are not equal. Far from it. So my question is: Which DVD drive should I get? Which brand/model has the best error handling? And why did my old Philips fail under Ubuntu, and how can I make sure the new one I get will work? Recommendations, experiences, explanations, all is appreciated!

  1. thet permalink

    your pioneer may be broken, the phillips also. maybe lens cleaning helps. but electronic devices get broken with time – capaciators leak after years, etc. buy a blue ray one from a company you can trust.

    • The Philips works perfectly under Windows, so I doubt that it’s broken. It’s strange that it doesn’t work under Linux. But it’s old, and most likely a bit slow. The Pioneer has *always* been like this. And it’s only 3 years old, it’s unlikely to have degraded. I upgraded the firmware yesterday, maybe that will help, although I doubt it. We’ll see the next time I rent a DVD with scratches. 🙂

      Upgrading to a BlueRay is definitely an option now, didn’t think of that. But I trusted Pioneer, so…

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