I have two Blu-ray drives that have been around for years. I was dorking around last week and doing some research into LibreDrive which MakeMKV (the software I use to backup my discs) heavily promotes. What does it do? How should I know. I play with custom firmware first, and read documentation second … or twelth.
I had last researched it a few months ago and looked for custom firmware for my drives, but nothing was out there. Both of mine are old, so I didn’t really find it surprising. However, this week, I poked around again and discovered firmware for both of them! Awesome sauce. That I can explain a bit better.
The optical drive can read Blu-rays just fine. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to rip them, etc. However, since the Blu-ray spec hasn’t changed between the original and the UHD ones, your drive is capable of reading them as well. Manufacturers though can price UHD drives at a higher price, though, but they are only restricted in firmware. It’s similar to ripping CDs way back in the day — the read speed was limited in the firmware, and people were releasing all kinds of new firmware that would unlock them and make them much faster. Same thing, but with reading disc types instead.
I was seriously surprised that this would ever happen, and while everything went without a hitch, I still wanted to test my drives on some new 4K content and see what I could do. So, lo and behold, I went and got two UHD movies, Sonic the Hedgehog and Spies in Disguise (both awesome movies).
For both movies, the video codec is HEVC. And the files are large. Spies in Disguise with only the English audio tracks is a whopping 43 GBs. Sonic weighs in at 49 GB. That is big, especially for an advanced codec. If these were AVC, they’d probably come in more around 75 to 85 GBs. Considering the original Blu-ray format for discs can hold around 45 GBs, that is big. Very big. So, how’s the picture? Pretty awesome.
Spies in Disguise is really nice. That screenshot alone is 18 MB. No complaints.
Sonic looks awesome as well. I think the differences in quality stands out more in live-action movies. Watching it seriously felt like I was having the theater experience again. I definitely wasn’t expecting that.
When I first started looking at the discs, I thought there might be some cool features on the UHD. Maybe a few trailers, they put some special features on there, something like that. Both of them had nothing though, just an entry menu and the movie. The packaging has the Blu-ray disc as well, where all the features are at, plus the movie in 1080p of course.
It’s kind of interesting, really, I’d never planned on upgrading to 4K / UHD at all. I have a Sony 4K TV that I bought about three months ago, and the only reason I got it was because my rear projection TV of 15 years finally died on me. I have stacked up on storage though on my media server. I originally had about 750 GB for my entire library reserved, and now I have 16 TB available. So there’s room to expand and try out some bigger content.
There’s not really anything out there though that I’m too interested in getting in UHD. Spider-Verse is the only one I can think of right now that I’ll upgrade. Miles deserves it.