Portable Blu-Ray Player Advice?

As someone who likes films, but spends relatively little time watching visual media, I’m in an annoying position at the moment.
I don’t own a TV, because neither I nor my wife are particularly interested in watching broadcast stuff, and because my experience is that when people have them they tend to be on all the time and to dominate rooms and take over from the other forms of entertainment which I prefer. (Note this is NOT me saying that I look down on people who watch TV or any of that nonsense. I have to point this out because so many people only say they don’t have a TV in order to look down on those who do.)
However, more and more, things I am interested in watching are being (re)issued on Blu-Ray only, without a DVD release. Most recently there’ve been the upgraded versions of the Marx Brothers’ Paramount films, and the remastered Monkees TV series, but at this point there’s something most weeks I’m interested in.
I could use an external Blu-Ray drive connected to my laptop — except that I use GNU/Linux. There is no legal way to watch Blu-Rays on GNU/Linux, the illegal ways tend to be patchy, and part of the Blu-Ray spec includes the ability to brick drives if you watch a Blu-Ray using the “wrong” systems, as I discovered when I bought a USB Blu-Ray drive.
So the only way I’m going to be able to watch a lot of things I want to see is if I buy a portable player (I am NOT installing Windows on any machine I own). But looking through Amazon there is only one single machine on there that appears to be an actual portable Blu-Ray player (a number have Blu-Ray in their title, but the description and reviews make it clear they’re just DVD players with no Blu-Ray functionality). The one available one is four hundred quid, which I’m not paying.
Now my experience in the past with this sort of thing has been that the thing I want exists, but there tends to be one manufacturer in the Czech Republic or something making them, and that they can only be bought through a Welsh-language website.
So I’m posting this to see if anyone can name somewhere I can find a portable Blu-Ray player, which will work with British-region Blu-Rays, and which costs under two hundred or so pounds. You may assume that I have tried the obvious places (Amazon, Ebay, Maplin etc).

Proper post later.

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11 Responses to Portable Blu-Ray Player Advice?

  1. Mike Taylor says:

    I don’t get it. You can watch DVDs on Linux, despite CSS, so why are Blu-Rays different? (For avoidance of doubt: I am not asserting that you are wrong, just trying to understand the situation.)

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Blu-Rays have a more advanced crypto scheme, where there are multiple keys, and if one is broken they start using the next key. If you try playing a disc with a key that is newer than your player can cope with, it bricks the player unless you do a firmware update (and doing a firmware update for an unlabelled piece of generic USB kit, on a GNU/Linux system it’s not supported on, is not easy — see eg http://hackaday.com/2014/09/08/unbricking-a-bluray-drive/ )
      One of the reasons I’ve avoided Blu-Ray for so long is that I consider this evil, and I’d been hoping that some Free Software developers would come up with a solution before I migrated over. But we’ve now got to the point that DVDs are essentially obsolete, with streaming replacing them for casual viewing and Blu-Ray for collectors, so I need to find some way of playing Blu-Rays if I ever want to be able to watch something without having to subscribe to a specific streaming service. (The other option would be just to torrent everything, but HD files take up a lot of hard drive space compared to ripped DVDs, and I also really don’t like taking others’ work without paying).

      • Mike Taylor says:

        Sheesh, the length the Big Copyright will go to, to prevent people from buying and enjoying legitimate copies of the works they control.

        I think if I were in your situation, I would consider buying Blu-Ray discs, then never even attempting to use them, just downloading the material from pirate sites.

  2. James Brough says:

    Having asked around, it seems that they really aren’t prodused. It’s assumed that if you want to watch blu rays, then you want the picture qualily, so you want a big screen. I assume the machine you found on Amazon is the Sony SX910. It’s not actually produced any more and there’s no firmware updates, so some newer discs are likely not to work on it. The only plus is that the ones available on Amazon are multi-region chipped, so you wouldn’t be limited to UK discs.

    If I find anything more positive I’ll let you know.

  3. I’m going to show how naive I am here, but can’t you just plug a blu-ray player into a PC monitor and cut out the hard drive? Okay, waits for laughter to subside.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      That’s actually a really good idea. I have no idea why I never thought of it before.

      • po8crg says:

        The answer is that many PC monitors don’t support HDCP on the HDMI channel (because they rely on the PC to do that sort of stuff).

        But some do, so you will want to check the spec of your monitor and make sure it has the relevant HDCP support.

    • James Brough says:

      In terms of naivety, I was also wondering if that were possible. I have a stand alone UK Region blu ray player in my bedroom that cost about £50. If you want a multi-region one, I’m told the best place to go is a website called multi-region magic where you’d be able to get a stand alone player for approx £150. If that would work with a PC monitor, then either way you’re a fair way inside your £200 budget.

  4. Noxex says:

    As someone who has this exact same problem, you have two choices really. 1) use MakeMKV which has worked on every disc I’ve tried. It is non-free software but the free software only solution doesn’t work for every disk. Legally, MakeMKV is probably misusing its liscence with the blu ray cartel, although there is no way to know for sure. The other methods almost surely are illegal, at least in thr US. 2) plus a blu ray player into the monitor by using a method that bypasses the copy protection. Component out does not have copy protection, so it would unquestionably be legal to use an adapter that goes from component to hdmi, for example. There are various other adapters that may be more problomatic legally, but I only have knowledge of US law.

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