SlySoft AnyDVD HD - Go HDCP Free!

Print

Slysoft Product: SlySoft AnyDVD HD
Provided By: SlySoft
Price: $79.00USD

 

Introduction:

Everyone is going "HD" crazy.  Movie Studios are jumping on the High Definition bandwagon and releasing Hi-Def trailers on the web, and choosing to support either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD.  The benefit of these new HD-DVD and Blu-Ray formats are the enhanced copy protection we've come to know as HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection).  At first, this sounds like a great idea, as I have no problem with the publishers and producers protecting their work, but the problem lies in how HDCP content is delivered from the media source to your screen.

In order to play Blu-Ray or HD-DVD movies, you obviously need a optical drive of some sort.  If this is a set-top unit that plugs directly into your HDCP compliant display, you're off and running.  The issue is when legitimate users try and play HDCP-protected content on their computer.

In order to play such content, you'll need several things.  1) A Blu-Ray or HD-DVD Optical drive,  2) A graphics card that supports HDCP content,  3) A HDCP enabled software player such as PowerDVD 7.2 Ultra, or Intervideo WinDVD 8 Platinum,  4) A driver that is recognized as HDCP supported,  and 5) A display that is HDCP compliant.

For the PC user, this a pretty steep list of requirements - not only in price in some cases, but also in system configuration.  Many large LCD monitors sold in the past year are not HDCP compliant and will not allow playback of your favorite HD-DVD or Blu-Ray title.  Also graphics card and driver support can be sketchy.

Today we are taking a look at a product from SlySoft that aims to make the High-Definition bandwagon a little easier to ride.  We'll find out how well it works and explore some features of their new AnyDVD HD.

 

The Road to PC HD-DVD:

A little over a year ago, my wife bought me a Gateway FPD2185W 21" Widescreen LCD.  This display supported HDCP content and was my first item I acquired that actually supported High Definition.  The resolution is a now standard 1680x1050 and while it won't support native 1080p content, it will look pretty good regardless.

Next up I acquired an eVGA GeForce 7950GX2 graphics card that supported HDCP content as well.  Even with a graphics card and a display, I never really grasped the quality of HD content as, at this point, I hadn't been exposed to much HD content.  I live in a remote location and internet is delivered wirelessly with limited bandwidth and it didn't interest me to download a 200MB HD clip.  As time went by I grabbed a few smaller clips and was blown away with the quality of the video.

Regular DVD movies have a native resolution of 720x480 and when scaled on a display of 1680x1050 or larger, the video appears pixilated and blocky.  HD movies have a resolution of 1280x720 or 1920x1080 and don't have to scale as much or at all.  After watching some HD content on my display - I became unsatisfied with regular DVD content.

Several sites have reported success by plugging in an XBOX 360 HD-DVD drive and this interested me enough I was willing to drop $169CDN (On sale) on a HD-DVD drive.  It was also about this time that I picked up a new Samsung 305T 30" LCD that supports an amazing 2560x1600 resolution and I was super excited to give this a shot.  I plugged in the device, installed a driver to let Windows XP view the file system and I thought I was ready to go.

Unfortunately things were not as easy as I had hoped and after playing an HD-DVD title for about 1 second, I was met with this error:

HDCP Error

Something obviously was not right, so we'll go over our test setup, run the BD/HD Advisor tool and try again.

 HDAdvisor
HDAdvisor
 HD-DVD Passes
HD-DVD Passes

 

Oh, yay.  It looks my system will play HDCP protected HD-DVD's just fine - except it doesn't.  That is just perfect.  Once again the legitimate consumer gets screwed by DRM.  Just to make things clear, below is a list of system specs that we have tried that are all unsuccessful with both PowerDVD and WinDVD HD Editions.

 

System Configuration #1:

  • AMD Athlon X2 4200+
  • 2GB Crucial PC2-5300 DDR2
  • MSI K9N Platinum Motherboard
  • Sapphire HD 2600 Pro 512MB (and/or)
  • eVGA 7600GT 256MB
  • Samsung 305T 30" LCD
  • Gateway FPD2185W 21" LCD
  • Windows XP Pro SP2

System Configuration #2:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo Q6600
  • 2GB Patriot PC2-6400 DDR2
  • MSI 975X Platinum V.2
  • Sapphire HD 2600 Pro 512MB (and/or)
  • eVGA 7950GX2 1GB
  • Samsung 305T 30" LCD
  • Gateway FPD2185W 21" LCD
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit


System Configuration #3:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E4300
  • 4GB SuperTalent PC2-6400 DDR2
  • eVGA 680i Motherboard
  • Sapphire HD 2600 Pro 512MB (and/or)
  • XFX 8800GTX 768MB
  • Samsung 305T 30" LCD
  • Gateway FPD2185W 21" LCD
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit

Note:  On System #3, we were able to play HDCP protected content successfully, but on the other two HDCP "Compliant" systems, we were not.

It's this reason that we started exploring possible solutions that remove the AACS copy-protection and allow playback of HDCP protected content on systems that don't allow native playback of this content.  This is what lead us to SlySoft's AnyDVD HD.  On the next page we'll cover the alternatives and explore AnyDVD HD more.


The Alternatives:

SlySoft is certainly not the only player in the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray decrypting software scene.  Other alternatives are less pricey and some in fact are free.  Software like DVDFab Platinum (now supports HD-DVD & Blu-Ray) and HD DVD Demuxer (for Mac) and less expensive that SlySoft's AnyDVD HD, and DVDFab HD Decrypter is actually free.  Why would you want to pay for the SlySoft product?  The answer is super simple. 
 
AnyDVD ScanningThe afore-mentioned software only decrypts the data and allows you to rip it to your hard drive.  While it's true that storage is cheap, a single HD-DVD movie can be as large as 30GB and Blu-Ray movies are up to 50GB.  It won't take many movies to fill up a large hard drive, and it's a pain to have to wait an hour or more to rip a movie to your hard drive before you can watch it.  This is what makes SlySoft AnyDVD HD beautiful.  Simply drop the disk in your drive and within a few seconds you are ready to play the HDCP content on a non-HDCP videocard or monitor.  The quality looks every bit as good, as the software is merely decrypting the key on the fly.

 

AnyDVD HD Close Up:

I downloaded and tried out the time-limited demo of AnyDVD HD and after 3 weeks, I was hooked.  This software not only made playing HD-DVD movies simple and painless, it also make other DVD movies more enjoyable as it has some nice features such as intro, preview and commectial skip.  The main point of this article is HD-DVD HDCP playback, but we'll cover some of the other features as well.

Check out any of the images for a better idea of what AnyDVD HD offers.

 AnyDVD Info
AnyDVD Info
 AnyDVD HD-DVD Decryption
AnyDVD HD-DVD Decryption
AnyDVD Skip Commercials
AnyDVD Skip Commercials

 

 AnyDVD DVD
AnyDVD DVD
AnyDVD HD-DVD
AnyDVD HD-DVD
   
AnyDVD Blu-Ray
AnyDVD Blu-Ray
 AnyDVD CD
AnyDVD CD

 

This software is simple to use and works great out of the box.  By default it skips all the intros, previews and commercials and puts you right at the main menu of your DVD.  The beauty of this software is really its simplicity.  You don't really ever know that it's running - it just works.

 

What You See Is What You Get:

I mentioned previously that the software runs in the background and when you insert a disk into a drive, it automatically reads and removes whatever protections is on the disk.  If you bought an XBOX 360 HD-DVD drive to use with your computer, you'll be happy to know that AnyDVD HD also comes with the driver to allow you to view the file system of the HD-DVD.  In a matter of seconds after you insert an HD-DVD, you can browse the file system at your leisure and drag and drop files from the disk if you so desire.

 AnyDVD HD-DVD Filesystem
AnyDVD HD-DVD Filesystem
 AnyDVD HD-DVD Broken
AnyDVD HD-DVD Broken

 

Although the wonderful thing about AnyDVD HD is that you can play movies directly off the disc without first copying them to your Hard Drive - you can still easily copy movies to your drive with a simple two-click operation.  To copy an "uncopyable" movie from the disc to your computer, simply right-click the AnyDVD icon in the system tray, and select "Rip Video DVD to Harddisk..."  This performs a 1:1 copy of any DVD, HD-DVD or Blu-Ray disc of your choice.  It can't really get any easier than that.

 AnyDVD Right-Click

At any point after you install the software, you can fire up your HD-DVD software and enjoy whatever High-Definition title you choose on HDCP compliant, or non-compliant hardware.  After purchasing the XBOX360 HD-DVD drive, I quickly picked up a few movies such as Sahara, Serenity and the Planet Earth Documentary Series.  All of these titles are breathtaking and worth purchasing if you've got a display large enough to enjoy them on.  My family and I have been enjoying Planet Earth on my 305T Samsung display.  The quality is fantastic and playback couldn't be any easier thanks to Slysoft's AnyDVD HD.

Planet Earth HD-DVD

 (If the picture quality above is bad, it's because of poor lighting in the shop.) 

Conclusion:

If you are considering purchasing an HD-DVD drive for your computer, make sure you have all the necessary HDCP compliant hardware and software including OS, Software Player, Drivers, Graphics Card and Display.  Then say a prayer and hope that this DRM infected video plays - even if you've met the requirements.  Better yet, grab a piece of software like AnyDVD HD from Slysoft and don't worry about HDCP at all.  If you've purchased a 24" display a couple of years ago, chances are you can't watch HD-DVD or Blu-Ray content, and rather than spend another $800 on a new display, spend $80 on this software and enjoy HDCP-free movies on your computer, laptop or TV.  It's really that simple and worth every penny in my opinion.

For some though, the price may be too steep, and you'd prefer a free ripper that will only rip it to your Hard Drive, you have a few choices.  However, the simplicity and convenience of AnyDVD HD is simply wonderful.

 

Pros:

  • Simple to install and run.
  • Combines with an XBOX360 HD-DVD drive to make a cheap HiDef PC.
  • Removes HDCP and other protection in seconds.
  • Clean, non-bloated interface.
  • Allows you to play HD-DVD and Blu-Ray movies without HDCP hardware.


Cons:

  • Price: At $80USD it may be a bit expensive for some. 

 

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
10/10
Performance:
10/10
Stability:
10/10
Features:
9/10
Value:
8/10
Total Score 9.4

 

If you want to add HD-DVD capability to your computer and don't have all the money to upgrade to HDCP compliant hardware, AnyDVD HD is a must-have and certainly a Top Pick

 Top Pick

Please post any thoughts, comments and questions you have about this software in our forum at the Comments link below.