tl;dr: Buy a $40 Portable USB Blu-ray/DVD-R drive and $30 Blu-ray player MacGo for $10 less than an Apple SuperDrive and you get to watch/rip Blu-ray movies as a bonus.

bluray_player_system

With Apple having eliminated optical media from just about every product it makes, including the redesigned iMacs, Mac Minis, and Retina MacBook Pros, many readers will be considering whether they need to procure a separate external DVD reader for emergencies. Some folks store archives, have software installers, backups, or have vast movie collection on DVD – and then there is Blu-ray…

Apple’s remedy is the DVD SuperDrive that costs $79 (well, $70/$50 used if you know where to shop). The SuperDrive is an Apple-quality product and can be used as a boot drive for many Macs that need to be upgraded or repaired via DVD.

But perhaps we can get a little more for our $80?

Steve Jobs viewed Blu-ray as a “bag of hurt” from the “mafia,” and Apple would frankly rather you stick to the iTunes ecosystem for video watching. But there are many nice Blu-ray titles out there, and iTunes’ compressed 1080p content still doesn’t come close the video and sound quality of Blu-ray. So, for those thinking of dropping $80 on a SuperDrive, we think we have a better option:

We talked about inexpensive Blu-ray Mac options before. Portable USB 2.0 drives that carry enough current to power a Blu-ray player and enough speed to carry 4X Blu-ray reading are probably the best bet. We see a highly-rated Sony/NEC model for under $40, and of course Amazon has well-rated portable Blu-ray players starting at $44 but quality varies. These drives also read/write DVDs, so you still have just about all the functionality of Apple’s SuperDrive.

Once you have a USB Blu-ray drive, you aren’t out of the woods yet. Apple has never made Blu-ray reading an option on the Mac, so you’ll need some software. There are some hacks using VLC and the free MakeMKV, but they are kind of ‘hacky’. Luckily, StackSocial is currently offering a 50 percent discount on the best Mac Blu-ray software available, MacGo ($29.99). The software easily allows you to play and rip Blu-rays, as well as stream to iOS devices.

So, there you have it. For less than the price of an Apple SuperDrive, you can have all the functionality of a SuperDrive PLUS the ability to read and rip Blu-ray disks.

If you plan on burning Blu-rays (fancy!), you’ll need some better software like Toast 11 ($60) and a portable drive that will start around $65.

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