ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 Review

The latest version of ArcSoft’s TotalMedia Theatre is out and well worth a purchase for a great media player for both Blu-ray and DVD along with all your other media like You Tube and home videos.

Ease of Use, Performance: 23/25
Look & Feel: 22/25
Features 22/25
How much I enjoy 23/25

Total: 90/100

ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 Review

In the battle of Blu-ray software the clear winner is no longer a clear choice, I have been reviewing these software releases and have switched back and forth between them a few times. ArcSoft has taken a bit of a lead in my Blu-ray playing because it has a better user interface and easier drives selection for a general easier to use program.

I have enjoyed the choice between the players but recently with receiving both updated programs from each company the clear choice for my everyday Blu-ray playing has been TotalMedia Theatre 5. ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 comes in one edition and costs about $99 for the complete package but can be found for less like TigerDirect’s current sale for $40 off.

The player works, I have had no problems other than a small one that deals more with the graphics card and moving the program between screens. During the first weeks using the program I had a problem where the program would either pause a long time or a few times would crash when dragging it from one monitor screen to another.

After the latest two updates I no longer have this problem with crashes and the pause has gotten very slight which is much better. The player for DVD and Blu-ray works perfectly without any of the little annoyances I have encountered with PowerDVD 11.

Audio Settings

One aspect of playing movies is being able to choose between the drives, I usually use my Blu-ray player but on occasion have tossed a DVD in my DVD drive. In PowerDVD you either used a keyboard shortcut or changed to the other drive using the small arrow on the tab for the BD page but in Theatre 5 the big icons are displayed as pages when you open the program.

This is a much easier way to play the major choices for the media player software but you can also easily play You Tube videos and other content like home movies. The TotalMedia Theatre 5 is a full video and entertainment player for your media playing experience with a common menu tree on the side of the program.

The program plays a wide range of formats from computer files like MP4 and MPEG to the Blu-ray and 3D formats that are now a major part of entertainment. While I do not have a 3D capable monitor or TV the rest of the playback from my computer and with various monitors and my living room TV has been great.

The user interface makes things like choosing chapters and zipping through parts of an episode easy with understandable icons and menus that are easy to navigate. Playback from the last place you were works well and I had no problems picking up where I left off in series and movies even after several days of playing other media.

Notebook Power Manager

ArcSoft also offers a SimHD feature that boosts the video quality of standard definition video to make the video quality more toward high definition like Blu-ray video. This works pretty well for most standard definition DVD’s but for other video it is a hit and miss affair just like I found PowerDVD 11 is.

The quality of DVD’s is somewhat better while using the feature which is turned on using the top tool that opens a partial page for more settings. Both PowerDVD 11 and Theatre 5 can display  upscaled video in a split screen or side by side to see the difference with and without the better quality.

Both players did well with the upscaling and it would be almost impossible to choose one player over the other for this feature alone. Actually both players work very well and it’s hard to recommend one over the other on one feature alone, it is the whole package that makes the difference.

I had no problems using the program as part of Windows Media Center with Windows 7 with a great user interface that actually makes playing video and movies easier. While PowerDVD 11 Ultra also integrates and plays Blu-ray with Windows Media Center the user interface is smaller and a little less user friendly than ArcSoft’s Theatre 5.

Theatre 5 Update

One main concern or annoyance with my Blu-ray players is not the features it offers and the varied formats, both players are almost identical in formats and such, its general ease of use. Installation for ArcSoft Theatre 5 does not change the Autoplay features of my PC and the easy selection of drives is a good start.

The user interface of Theatre 5 is also a bit easier to use than PowerDVD 11 but the media manager of both programs are about the same. Many features of each program are similar or just as easy to use as the other with most major differences only additional features.

ArcSoft has the usual choice for audio and video settings like full 7.1 surround sound and a wide variety of monitors and televisions available. Other settings include the video enhancements and power management for laptop use along with all the other settings you would expect like an equalizer and parental control functions.

If you would like to use a mobile device like a tablet or iPhone to control your program the only choice is PowerDVD but for general Blu-ray and DVD playback I find that ArcSoft works a little bit better. The actual playback and audio quality is the same for both programs and when trying to choose between the two it’s not the major features but the little things that make the biggest differences.

I prefer to use ArcSoft’s Theatre 5 for Blu-ray playback in both my office computer and on my HTPC in my living room as it is just easier and faster to get to my movie entertainment. No higher praise can be given other than my choice on a day to day basis for my media player, I highly recommend the ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5.

ArcSoft Website