Why Can’t I Play Blu-Ray Discs?

Posted: January 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

Yeah, I know. I rarely post. Even so, this post is a little different. This is a chronicle of my dealings with CyberLink tech support, after I discovered that Blu-Ray discs no longer played on my system. I’m not talking about NEW titles, but the same titles that USED to work on the same hardware with the same software a year or two ago. So, I appealed to CyberLink tech support, which gets my vote for worst-designed tech support system EVER. You’ll see why in a moment.

First off, the background. I bought a Blu-Ray drive for a PC in April 2010 for a quad-core system that was built in 2009 to be ultra-quiet and support HDMI off the motherboard. It’s solid and silent. I researched the software, PowerDVD 8 BD Edition, that came bundled with the Blu-Ray drive (i.e. OEM version of the software); it supports software decoding for Blu-Ray, which was needed since I don’t have a separate video card with hardware Blu-Ray decoding (they have noisy fans). I got the drive, installed PowerDVD and 2 updates, got my first Blu-Ray (I think it was Harry Potter 6) and it worked perfectly. Got a few more Blu-Rays, and they all worked fine.

Then Amazon Prime Instant Video came along, and I stopped watching DVDs and Blu-Rays for quite a long time.

During the Black Friday sales this year, there were several Blu-Rays that I’d wanted to analyze (it’s a writer thing, don’t worry about it) hadn’t shown up yet on APIV, and were insanely cheap, so I ordered them. Popped one of them in and … up popped a message saying that PowerDVD had to be upgraded. Huh? Okay, so maybe there’s new tech in the current Blu-Ray. That happens, and it’s been a couple years. So I pulled out my trusty HP6 and tried it. No dice; same message. I tried some other titles I already owned and knew for sure I’d watched using the same hardware and software. Still got the same “you must upgrade” message. Why?  I tried various free solutions (including my trusty VLC), but none of them worked, either. At this point, I checked CyberLink’s downloads and found that not only did I have the latest update for PowerDVD 8, it was now EOL (End Of Life). While now completely surprised (it HAD been a few years), I WAS surprised that it had stopped working when the hardware and software hadn’t changed. So I checked the Amazon 1-star reviews and found quite a few similar stories, centered around the AACS licensing going out of date. One of the reviews had a 2-week-old response from CyberLink saying they offered a free upgrade to PowerDVD 10, which was not yet EOL and would solve the AACS licensing, which evidently changed between the versions.

This is when I decided to open a support ticket, late at night on Christmas Day:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001323317 ———-
Date:  2013/12/25 21:32
Subject: Blu-Ray no longer plays
I haven’t played Blu-Ray discs in a while, but I recently bought new Blu-Rays and found they wouldn’t play! I tried some old discs that USED to play, and they don’t work either. I get an error popup reading:
“You must update CyberLink PowerDVD to continue the playback of this content.”
Looking on your support site, I see that v8 is now EOL, but a company response on Amazon claims I can get a free upgrade to v10: http://www.amazon.com/Cyberlink-DVD-0D00-IWU0-00-PowerDVD-Ultra-Download/product-reviews/B00CBISACE/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R2EN620S3M66MC
However, I can’t find anywhere on your site to get this upgrade.
So, how can I get my Blu-Ray discs to play again?
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001323317 ———-
Date: 2013/12/25 23:36
Dear Dan,
Thank you for contacting CyberLink Technical Support. I understand that you are unable to play the Blu-ray disks in PowerDVD 8 OEM oftware.
In regards to your concern, we may need to forward your concern to our product team. In order to escalate your concern, we may need some information from you. Please provide me the following information for further analysis:
1)  Sr_No of the software. SR should be like “SR_No=XXXXXX_XX”. Please follow the link given below to know how to find the serial number:
http://www.cyberlink.com/prog/support/cs/faq-content.do?id=2615
2) DxDiag.txt log file. Please follow the link below to get the steps to generate the log file:
http://www.cyberlink.com/prog/support/cs/faq-content.do?id=6310
3) Please send me the snapshot of the error screen (if any) with full desktop. I will look at the screen capture, analyze and send you a solution or provide more information.
To take screenshot, please follow the steps given below :
a. Press the Print Screen key on your keyboard when the error appears on your screen. b. Click on Start -> Programs-> Accessories-> Paint. c. Paste the screen capture there by pressing Ctrl+V d. Save the file with the extension name .jpg and  then send to CyberLink Support for analysis. 4) Blu-Ray titles (with region code) that you are trying to play.
5) BD/3D Advisor. Please follow the link below to download the advisor:
http://www.cyberlink.com/prog/bd-support/diagnosis.do
Once the Advisor finishes the system diagnosis, Click on the Save button. Save the file and send that to us for analysis.
Use the below mentioned link to get back for further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink products.
Thank You and Best Regards
Saba
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Ticket ID CS001323317 ———-

So far, so good. I got a quick response, and on Christmas Day yet. This was encouraging. The only hitch was when I clicked on the link for “further queries”, which brought me right back to the same place I’d gone for my initial support ticket. These was no way to CONTINUE a conversation thread. They were asking me to create a whole new support ticket in order to provide the information they requested! From a customer support perspective, that’s just plain stupid. There’s no guarantee the support rep who handles #2 will be the same rep, or even READ #1. Nevertheless, I sent back the info they had requested, via a new support ticket:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001323438 ———-
Date:  2013/12/26 08:26
Subject:  Blu-ray Discs won’t play
Following up Ticket CS001323317:
Summary: Blu-ray discs that used
to play with my PowerDVD 8 BD OEM (bundled with Lite-On) and no longer
play; new Blu-ray discs won’t play.
Attached are the requested files and information.
PowerDVD 8 Version 8.0.3228g.50
SN: DVDXXXXXX-XX
I tried 4 Region 1 discs yesterday and today, and all of them brought up the popup error in the attached screenshot:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal (2010)
Oblivion (2013)
Pacific Rim (2013)
———- End of Ticket ID CS001323438 ———-

At this point, obviously, in order to provide them the information they’d requested, I’d downloaded the BD & 3D Advisor and run it, and it passed. It DID note that I would not be able to use some extended Blu-Ray features, because I didn’t have hardware decoding for Blu-Ray, but it still passed. While I waited … and waited … for a response, I investigated the current version 13, as it was on sale, only to find the trial didn’t support software Blu-Ray decoding, only the paid version. After waiting two days, I’d had enough and just bought the current version, downloaded and installed it and … it STILL didn’t work! There was still a setting in the options for software decoding, so I set it and tried again. Still no dice (different error, though). With two versions that didn’t work, I had no choice but to open another support ticket, which regrettably had a very similar ID number (differing only by the second-to-last digit) . Fortunately, I already knew what they were going to request, so I provided that information up front:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001324398 ———-
Date:  2013/12/28 12:40
Subject:  BD Advisor passes; PowerDVD 13 Ultra won’t play Blu-Ray
After running BD Advisor (which passed for Blu-Ray playback), I purchased PowerDVD 13 Ultra and installed it (SN DVDXXXXXX-XX), but it will not play Blu-Ray discs. It pops up a message saying my video card is incompatible (despite passing BD Advisor). Since I don’t have hardware decoding, I changed the “Player Settings” for “Video, Audio, Subtitles” to “Use software decoding”, but Blu-Ray discs still won’t play.
Attached is a screenshot, DxDiag results for both 32-bit and 64-bit, and the BD Advisor output.
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001324398 ———-
Date:  2013/12/28 22:51
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for writing back.
In regards to your concern, I would like to inform you that the issue under the case ID CS001323438 has already been escalated to our R&D Team and they are still working on it. I will definitely get back to you with the updated information once I get any update from them.
I apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Use the below mentioned link to get back for further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink products.
Thank You and Best Regards
Saba
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Ticket ID CS001324398 ———-

At least I got a quick response that time. However, this was a NEW support ticket for a NEW product, so why the response for the ORIGINAL support ticket for the OLD product? Were they going to ignore the new ticket? This is exactly the kind of confusion that happens when you have single-question-response system in place, with no way to contextualize separate threads. I decided to attempt to clarify the situation in the only way available, yet ANOTHER support ticket:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001324779 ———-
Date:  2013/12/29 15:46
Subject: CS001324398 is NOT the same issue as CS001323438!
Please do NOT close CS001324398! If you re-read the question, you’ll see that it’s for the CURRENT version of PowerDVD, which I purchased because there was no response for 2 days on CS001323438 (for the EOL’d
version 8). I just want a version that works, please!
———- End of Ticket ID CS001324779 ———-

A day later, I got an identical response on both the outstanding tickets:
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001324779 ———-
Date: 2013/12/30 02:26
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for writing back.
Regarding your concern, I would like to inform you that the PowerDVD 8 is no longer offered a patch to support the latest BD titles.
According to the purchase record, I found that you have bought PowerDVD 13. PowerDVD 13 is able to play the latest BD titles.
However, in CSID CS001324398, PowerDVD 13 pops up error when playing BD. After checking the Dxdiag, the your GPU does not meet the minimum system requirements. Please ensure that the platform is capable of playing Blu-ray discs.
Check our system requirements below:
http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd-ultra/spec_en_US.html
Use the below mentioned link to get back for further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink products.
Thank You and Best Regards
Saba
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Response to Ticket ID CS001324779 ———-
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001323438 ———-
Date:  2013/12/30 03:02
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for writing back.
Regarding your concern, I would like to inform you that the PowerDVD 8 is no longer offered a patch to support the latest BD titles.
According to the purchase record, I found that you have bought PowerDVD 13. PowerDVD 13 is able to play the latest BD titles.
However, in CSID CS001324398, PowerDVD 13 pops up error when playing BD. After checking the Dxdiag, the your GPU does not meet the minimum system requirements. Please ensure that the platform is capable of playing Blu-ray discs.
Check our system requirements below:
http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd-ultra/spec_en_US.html
Use the below mentioned link to get back for further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink products.
Thank You and Best Regards
Saba
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Response to Ticket ID CS001323438 ———-

At this point, Saba was getting on my nerves. It’s like Saba decided buying the current version solved everything, despite the fact that IT DIDN’T WORK! Clearly time for another support ticket:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001324925 ———-
Date:  2013/12/30 03:06
Subject:  Follow-up to CS001323317, CS001323438, CS001324398, CS001324779
Re: CS001323317 & CS001323438
The system worked perfectly fine in 2010/2011 with the same hardware it has now. What happened to make it fail in 2013? I could understand not being able to play 2013 BR discs, but it doesn’t play 2010 BR discs which played just fine in 2010/2011! Was there an AACS  licensing EOL or something? If so, do you or do you not offer a free upgrade to v10, as indicated by the CyberLink response on the Amazon page link I provided? If so, how can I get it? I would be happy to uninstall v13, reinstall v8 and upgrade to v10 if it has any hope of working.
Re: CS001324398 & CS001324779
According to BD Advisor (I attached the output to CS001324398), my system DOES meet requirements for Blu-Ray software encoding playback. Are you saying that software encoding is NOT supported by v13? If so, the problem remains; if not, why does BD Advisor pass and, once again, is there ANY software encoding version that will work with my current hardware (which worked with v8 in 2010/2011)?
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001324925 ———-
Date:  2013/12/30 03:27
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for writing back.
Regarding your concern, I would like to inform you that the PowerDVD 8 is no longer offered a patch to support the latest BD titles.
According to the purchase record, I found that you have bought PowerDVD 13. PowerDVD 13 is able to play the latest BD titles.
However, in CSID CS001324398, PowerDVD 13 pops up error when playing BD. After checking the Dxdiag, the your GPU does not meet the minimum system requirements. Please ensure that the platform is capable of playing Blu-ray discs.
Check our system requirements below:
http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd-ultra/spec_en_US.html
Use the below mentioned link to get back for further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink products.
Thank You and Best Regards
Saba
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Ticket ID CS001324925 ———-

I cannot even BEGIN to express the level of FAIL in this response, especially considering that I opened the new ticket merely FOUR MINUTES after Saba’s previous response, and Saba cookie-cutter-responded only 21 minutes later! I opened yet another ticket in an attempt to make it crystal clear what I wanted them to answer:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001325061 ———-
Date:  2013/12/30 08:59
Subject:  Upgrade to PowerDVD 10
I used to be able to play Blu-Ray discs in PowerDVD 8 OEM (SN DVDXXXXXX-XX), shipped with a Lite-On iHOS104 drive in April 2010. Those same Blu-Ray discs that used to work no longer play in 2013. I tried upgrading to PowerDVD 13 Ultra, but that does not play the discs, either, and your representative, Saba, states in a separate incident report that my hardware does not meet specs for v13, despite passing BD Advisor tests. Clearly, the hardware was in spec for v8, since it worked in 2010/2011 and the hardware hasn’t changed since then.
In a response to a 1-star review of your product on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Cyberlink-DVD-0D00-IWU0-00-PowerDVD-Ultra-Download/product-reviews/B00CBISACE/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R2EN620S3M66MC titled “$80.00 Per Year to use Cyberlink PowerDVD – Guaranteed”, on December 18, 2013), a CyberLink company representative, David, stated:
“If you are referring to Blu-ray support for PowerDVD version 9 and below, we did stop providing free updates to this software. However, we do provide verified users who have PowerDVD 7, 8, and 9 a free upgrade to version 10, which still receives free updates for the latest Blu-ray movies.”
As a verified user of v8, I would like to get this free upgrade to v10, but I cannot find anywhere on your website about how to do it. How can I get this v10 upgrade?
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001325061 ———-
Date:  2013/12/30 23:36
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for writing back.
Regarding your concern, I would like to inform you that the PowerDVD 8 is no longer offered a patch to support the latest BD titles.
According to the purchase record, I found that you have bought PowerDVD 13. PowerDVD 13 is able to play the latest BD titles.
However, in CSID CS001324398, PowerDVD 13 pops up error when playing BD. After checking the Dxdiag, the your GPU does not meet the minimum system requirements. Please ensure that the platform is capable of playing Blu-ray discs.
Check our system requirements below:
http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd-ultra/spec_en_US.html
Use the below mentioned link to get back for further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink products.
Thank You and Best Regards
Saba
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Ticket ID CS001325061 ———-

Oh. My. God. Saba was beginning to remind me of a demon I wrote once that worked at the customs office for Hell (“Devil in the Details” in the DAW All Hell Breaking Loose anthology, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0756402891/). I fired off my last, frustrated, support ticket:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001325951———-
Date:  2014/01/01 12:48
Subject:  Re: CS001325061
PLEASE CAN SOMEBODY OTHER THAN SABA ANSWER THIS??? SABA DOES NOT READ MY QUESTIONS AND KEEPS REPEATING WHAT I ALREADY KNOW! I expect to return PowerDVD 13, since it does not work, so that is NOT an answer! v13 DOESN’T WORK!
I will repeat my original questions:
I used to be able to play Blu-Ray discs in PowerDVD 8 OEM (SN DVDXXXXXX-XX), shipped with a Lite-On iHOS104 drive in April 2010. Those same Blu-Ray discs that used to work no longer play in 2013. I tried upgrading to PowerDVD 13 Ultra, but that does not play the discs, either, and your representative, Saba, states in a separate incident report that my hardware does not meet specs for v13, despite passing BD Advisor tests.
Clearly, the hardware was in spec for v8, since it worked in 2010/2011 and the hardware hasn’t changed since then.
In a response to a 1-star review of your product on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Cyberlink-DVD-0D00-IWU0-00-PowerDVD-Ultra-Download/product-reviews/B00CBISACE/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R2EN620S3M66MC titled “$80.00 Per Year to use Cyberlink PowerDVD – Guaranteed”, on December 18, 2013), a CyberLink company representative, David, stated:
“If you are referring to Blu-ray support for PowerDVD version 9 and below, we did stop providing free updates to this software. However, we do provide verified users who have PowerDVD 7, 8, and 9 a free upgrade to version 10, which still receives free updates for the latest Blu-ray movies.”
As a verified user of v8, I would like to get this free upgrade to v10, but I cannot find anywhere on your website about how to do it. How can I get this v10 upgrade?
———- End of Ticket ID CS001325951 ———-

I waited a couple days, heard nothing back, and took matters into my own hands again. I re-installed PowerDVD 8 BD OEM and PowerDVD 13 Ultra alongside each other, popped in one our old, REALLY LOUD video cards and found that 1) PowerDVD 13 worked just fine; and 2) PowerDVD 8 BD OEM still didn’t work, even with a hardware decoder. In other words, PowerDVD 8 was a lost cause, undoubtedly due to expired AACS licensing, and despite the positive results of BD Advisor and options that indicate otherwise, PowerDVD 13 was a lost cause without a hardware Blu-Ray decoder. My only hope was PowerDVD 10, and I had no way to test it beforehand.

So I waited longer. In the end, it took nearly FIVE DAYS to get a response to this ticket! To their credit, it was NOT Saba responding:
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001325951 ———-
Date: 2014/01/06 03:34
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for writing back.
Regarding to your concern, I have re-escalated to our RD team for further review, and they have provided below comments.
1. We are sorry to inform you that free upgrade to verion 10 is avaialbe for retail versions, and not applies to OEM versions.
2. However, in order to playback BD discs, we still suggest you may try on higher-end platform with latest graphics card and driver to playback BD discs. Your graphics card driver is in 2009 and the card is not supported in PowerDVD 13. PowerDVD 13 has different system requirement for graphcis card as graphics card manufacturer also keep updating the driver and technology.
http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd-ultra/spec_en_US.html
3. We offer 30-day refund policy if doesn’t meet your expectation.
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink Products. Use the below mentioned link to get back to us for your further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Thanks and Regards,
Sorokhaibam
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Response to Ticket ID CS001325951 ———-

So there you have it. End of story. For CyberLink PowerDVD, software Blu-Ray decoding is supported ONLY with current generation Intel motherboard graphics processors. That’s it. Even if you buy a new version now, if the AACS licensing changes, they’ll leave you out in the cold without a backward glance. “Upgrade or you’re screwed” seems to be their motto. Lovely.

Anybody out there have some real, viable alternatives?

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Comments
  1. naleta says:

    I’d swear that Saba is one of the forerunner Zombies to start the Apocalypse.

  2. Sean says:

    Buy AnyDVD HD from Slysoft. It bypasses licensing and allows old versions of PowerDVD (I also have PowerDVD 8 OEM and it works fine with this installed) to work.

  3. Bill says:

    I don’t have an alternative for you, but I can guess what’s wrong. The company has decided to disable their portion of your system, likely for monetary reasons. In plain words, they want more money. You have money. See?

    Yeah, it’s a good definition of frustration. You can’t have what you want, but you can warn others to avoid this company and their underhanded marketing techniques. And that’s as good as it gets.

  4. John says:

    Sorry, I’m having the same problem with the bloody bastards. Any chance of them bringing back the gallows? Pity.. If I find a suitable replacement I’ll check back and let you know…. Regards….

  5. PowerDVD Sucks says:

    It’s the same old sh*t with them. I went through this just like yourself, and they gave me PDVD10
    so I could watch old Blu-Rays movies. Now I can’t watch new BD or old BD movies, and it is telling to me also upgrade. DVDs play just fine so it is the friggin AACS keys that got changed or something. It happens every 6 months and this is the last time I use this POS software.

    They know exactly what they are doing. They want you to upgrade ($) since they embed their
    AACS decoding module in each version, so once they AACS keys change, you have to upgrade.

    What kind of moron would pay $50 for the s/w when you can get a standalone BD player for less than $50 and never worry about the AACS keys changing ???

  6. Greg says:

    I have had the same experience as you. Thanks for sharing. Humanity be warned!

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