I have no HDTV1, Blu-ray player/PS3, and the only display I have that can show 1920×1080 is the one attached to my computer…and that one doesn’t support HDCP so I couldn’t even play Blu-rays on it if I had a player. But luckily through the world of computer parts and piracy “backup” focused apps, I can now play them.

Well, sort of.

By “play” I mean I can view videos on them, I can’t actually play the disc and get menus and easily accessible extras and random online crap. The key to everything is a $50 app called MakeMKV, which thankfully has a decent demo period to see whether it actually works, and it does for me. Unfortunately nothing on OS X supports BD playback, so basically you have to rip a disc to play it, or do this convoluted setup to play straight off the disc. I’ve been doing the long rip and convert method because my computer is old and slow. It can play off the disc, but just barely.

I’m using this LG “SUPER MULTI BLUE” drive, does 12x BD-R and has USB and eSATA connections, although for all I know the BD burning capability and eSATA ports are broken since I don’t have 50 gigs to burn or eSATA ports. I’ve only tested BD reading and just recently, CD writing.2

It uses a fairly fat power brick with detachable prongs (international ready I assume), the connection seemed fine enough, but the fatness was annoying. That could just be a sign that I have way too much crap plugged in.

fat plug

The drive itself seems huge, but comparable to other older or larger 5.25″ enclosures. Here it is devouring an iPad 2 with Smart Cover:

fat drive

And one last fun/incredibly obnoxious at first feature, see this eject button?:

stupid eject

Well it’s not a button, it’s a touch sensitive piece. Took me a while to figure that out for some reason, the tray motors got a nice workout from me not knowing what the hell was going on with it. If the drive is located in an area with some high finger traffic (such as some front USB ports) I could see it becoming a massive pain in the ass, but in my case it’s sort of out of the way so it’s not a big deal. And it’s not just because OS X has a convenient soft eject key on the keyboard, cause that doesn’t appear to work with it. Luckily the other manual methods of ejection in the Finder work (contextual menu, sidebar, etc).

Info according to System Profiler:

HL-DT-ST BD-RE BE12LU30:
Firmware Revision: 4261
Interconnect: USB
Burn Support: Yes (Generic Drive Support)
Profile Path: None
Cache: 4096 KB
Reads DVD: Yes
CD-Write: -R, -RW
DVD-Write: -R, -R DL, -RAM, -RW, +R, +R DL, +RW
BD-Write: -R, -RE
Write Strategies: CD-TAO, CD-SAO, CD-Raw, DVD-DAO

All ho hum stuff, but note the “Burn Support: Yes”, because here’s what Disk Utility has to say:

Burn Support : Unsupported

From what I can tell (from my single burning experience), is that this basically just means the Finder doesn’t support it. The blank disc I put in didn’t show up in the Finder, but everything else like whatever burning apps knew the disc was there and writable (I ended up burning it with…Burn).

With all that out of the way, lets move on to the exciting world of BD ripping. As mentioned MakeMKV works, but it’s not exactly a pretty Mac app. Not horribly ugly but just weird looking and out of place I guess:

ewww

But again, it works, and is the only native option that I know of right now. At least it’s pretty simple to use. Stick a disc in, press the big button, then wait as it scans the disc, then presents you with this screen:

lots o crap

Usually you have a big ass title and a bunch of smaller ones, but there are many cases like this where there are multiple similarly huge ones. I know on some other discs I have they are alternate versions, but honestly I have no clue most of the time and just pick the first one, it’s worked out so far. The other titles tend to be other special features, or just filler stuff like trailers or backgrounds for menus.

To rip the selected titles you press that “Make MKV” button and let it go for a while. Around half an hour later you’ll end up with each title as its own fancy MKV file. From there you can watch them directly if your computer is fast enough and/or have hardware acceleration, or transcode to another format for whatever reasons. I do 720p h.264 to watch on my iDevices and eventually Apple TV…and cause it’s much smaller. You can use MKVtoolsto rewrap 1080p h.264 encoded movies, but I’ve had bad luck with them (video corruption, like they’re missing key frames).

Congratulations, you have now entered the seedy world of Blu Ray backups!
Well, 2D backups at least. I haven’t tried ripping the 3D discs because I sure as hell don’t have the equipment to watch that stuff. The only 3D I’m experiencing is the lenticular covers on those.

I should probably just get a PS3 sometime.

LG BE12LU30, MSRP $200:
HIPPO

MakeMKV, $50:
HIPPO

Rating system guide

The drive is nice, albeit huge with a touch sensitive button, but mostly it’s just held back by OS X not being able to play BDs. MakeMKV works…it’s just that it’s kind of ugly and feels like an obvious cross platform app.

  1. Well my family has a few, but none of them I’d consider “mine”, none in my room at least.
  2. Yes, I still burn CDs. It’s for security camera footage I give to police or victims, I ain’t wasting no USB flash drives on that stuff.