... Just to recap, your working theory is that my video card driver settings are generating completely separate picture quality for BD, DVD, and Desktop settings? ...
No, I'm not saying that your graphics driver has different settings for DVD versus blu-ray. They are the same. What I tried to explain is that the settings for all Windows non-video applications are separate from the video settings. This is because video playback does not use the Windows application settings. Why did I go into this? Because inexperienced PC users may adjust the display settings (they're usually the first settings they'll see) thinking they are adjusting the video settings when, in fact, they are not.
The video settings of your graphics driver should affect all video playback equally. This includes video on DVD discs, blu-ray discs, files on your hard drive, streaming video, etc. I'm not sure how else to explain it without getting really technical.
You've obviously got a problem because your computer does not appear to be displaying blu-ray video correctly. However, if I understand you correctly, this is the first time that you've tried to play blu-ray discs on your computer. Therefore, if I were in your shoes, I would start troubleshooting from the ground up and this means starting with your graphics driver since video playback starts there.
I have heard of the difference between normal display and video output, but it would surprise me if my video card driver was doing something special just for BD. The BD/DVD comparisons lead me to believe that the difference is in PowerDVD, not the video card. I can try installing the ATI software, but I'm pessimistic about it having options with that much granularity, options that would fix BD without potentially messing up something else.
It seems that some of my earlier descriptions were not understood and I'm not sure what else to say. Of course, your graphics card does things to blu-ray that it doesn't do to DVD discs. It's called HD video and it requires different CODECs, different security algorithms, different hardware acceleration. Just think about this: There are hundreds of older video cards that play DVD's fine and have zero ability to play HD video on a blu-ray disc. Why? Because HD video requires things that the SD video of DVD's does not. So, yes, there are differences.
But you're muddling things here. These differences do not translate to separate video settings in your graphics driver for blu-ray versus DVD (a better contrast would be: HD video vesus SD video). Since your video quality settings seem to differ so much between SD and HD, you may have an out-of-date driver, out-of-date HD CODEC, etc., etc. But one thing is reasonably certain, without any video controls for your graphics card, your computer is missing essential components for adjusting video regardless of its source.
Plus, why would they even have picture controls in PowerDVD (as one would honestly expect from a multimedia player) if they're overridden or ignored by the video card driver? Surely one could build a multimedia player that made these adjustments correctly...
This question tells me that I haven't been able to successfully communicate, yet. Like I wrote earlier, video setup on a PC is too complicated for most users. The answer to your question was included in an earlier post. I'll try to explain one last time and this will be "it" for me. You should contact CyberLink and get their help---this is a user forum. I'm a user like you and no one is paying me to help you.
How video is adjusted on a PC:
1 - The overall video quality for ALL video applications is controlled at the graphics card driver with the software provided by the manufacturer of the graphics card. The same video settings should work for all video sources (DVD, bu-ray, video files, streaming video, etc.). Once the video settings of the driver are configure properly, ALL good-quality video should look "good" if the playback software (like PowerDVD, Windows Media Player, QuickTime, etc.) uses neutral video settings. Under normal circumstances, if video doesn't look good, then it is a problem with the video source (the video was poorly made, etc.).
2 - If an individual video source has problems (it was shot with poor white balance, it lacks contrast, it has poor color hue, etc), then temporary adjustments are often made with the video controls of the video player software. Then these controls are set back to their neutral position when a good-quality video is played. Why is it done like this? Because you don't want to screw up your system video calibration so you don't want to make temporary adjustments at your driver. You want to be able to easily return you player controls back to their neutral position and know that the video is properly calibrated through your system.
That's the way video setup and control is normally done by experts. And that's why the place where troubleshooting usually begins is at the driver level. Once a compatible driver has been installed, it is calibrated. Then the only time the adjustments on the video player software are needed are to make temporary adjustments for video sources with problems.
When things don't work this way (like they are not on your system) then the source of the problem can be any one or more of a long list of problems:
1 - The video player software is not compatible with the graphics driver.
2 - The video player is not compatible with the required CODECs or the wrong CODECs are being used.
3 - One or more incompatible video players are installed on the same computer.
4 - The video settings of the graphics driver are so misadjusted that the video settings of the player software cannot correct the problems for all video sources.
5 - The video display (computer monitor, HDTV, etc) is misadjusted and/or uses "dynamic" settings (like dynamic contrast) that are screwing up the video quality for some video sources.
6 - The gamut of the video display is not compatible with the NTSC/PAL SD and HD video standards, preventing proper calibration and/or adjustment.
7 - The firmware of the graphics card is out of date or incompatible with the video source and/or player software.
8 - One or more Windows system components required by the player software are incompatible (this can happen when another application is installed after the video player, replacing one of more of the needed Windows system components).
When you started this thread, it sounded like you just needed to know how to configure and adjust the video settings of your graphics driver. Then we learned that this wasn't even possible because you cannot access those settings without installing more ATI software. And we learned that your problems differ, depending on whether the video is SD or HD. Welcome to the world of HD video on a PC! Good luck!