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Blu Ray DVD Players: Taking In-home Movies To New Levels

Updated on December 14, 2009

What Are Blu Ray DVD players?

Well, if you believe the advertising they are the a quantum leap in DVD movie technology. But are they really?

This article will introduce you to the world of Blu Ray DVD Players, what features to expect from them, and how much they cost. Most of all, this article will help you see why these electronic marvels are touted as the electronics revolution, and perhaps, why now is the best time to purchase one.

But first ... we need to take a brief look into the past to understand how far we have moved into the future. So, put on the Flintstone's toga and prepare for a short jaunt in the time machine (never fear, I fixed it right this time!)

The History Of In-Home Movies

Back when I was a little fella, one had to go to the movie theaters to watch movies. First, we stood in line to get our ticket, then we stood in line to get our sodas, our popcorn, and our Junior Mints, and finally we stood in line waiting to get in and be seated.

It's no wonder people jumped at the chance to bring the theater home with them, ending the practice of standing in long lines ... unless you count the one at the video store.

VHS was the first new buzzword we learned. Nothing more than a long recorded tape wound around one reel and passed in front of a playback head to another reel, this was the technology we used to playback in-home movies for many years. Relegated to the past, there are few kids nowadays that even know what a VHS tape looks like.

This technology was temperamental at best, with the tapes often binding or breaking. And on a good day ... one still had to rewinding the video before returning it - a process that took awhile and prevented you from watching another movie, as you had to wait for one to rewind before watching another.

Years later DVDs entered the scene, and they didn't take long to push VHS tapes off of the market. The DVDs didn't require any rewinding, couldn't bind up in the player, and were difficult to break. Of course, DVDs have one weak point - they can be scratched - but if kept in a case and treated properly this doesn't typically happen.

Also, the quality of movies drastically improved, making movie viewing a much more pleasurable experience. People then added on in-home theater systems, making their homes into private theaters enjoyable for the whole family, at a small percentage of the original cost.

The Next Revolution

With so many people renting movies, the lines in video stores grew and grew. To combat this issue, several large companies started renting DVDs through the internet, negating the need to go to the video store. The endless sequence of lines had finally been broken.

The link below has a lot of info on online DVD rentals:

And the future ... the future has you downloading movies directly to your home through your high-speed internet connection.

Blu Ray DVDs

Blue Ray DVDs are the next genesis in video playback. Combining better image quality, better sound quality, and more features, it's no wonder people are finding Blu Ray videos to be a large improvement. Just how much of an improvement?

Image quality: DVD resolution is limited to 720X480, whereas the maximum resolution of a Blur Ray DVD is 1920X1080. To understand the difference, draw a 4 X 3 grid of lines on a piece of paper. Now, fill in the blocks to make the letter M. This represents DVD resolution. Next, draw an 8 X 6 grid of lines and (again) fill in the blocks to make a letter M. This represents Blu Ray resolution.

Which resolution looks better? A quadrupling of the resolution is what makes Blu Ray look much better than a standard DVD. And on an HDTV this makes for video playback that exceeds HDTV quality and (in some ways) surpasses the picture quality found in many theaters.

As for the audio quality, with the right set of surround sound speakers you can meet the audio quality found in the theaters. Another strike against going to the movie theaters. In fact, the only plus of the movie theaters anymore is not having to wait to see a new movie.

As for features, Blu Ray DVD players offer a pop-up menu that allows you to access special features while watching your movie, allowing you to perform special functions on the fly.

And this all leads to the question .. why shouldn't you step up to Blu Ray?

Blu Ray Videos - The Bad News

All things have their pros and cons - Blu Ray video players are no exception to this rule.Blu Ray players typically start at about $200, but lower cost players are starting to enter the market as Blu Ray becomes more of a standard. Also, if you intend to purchase a Blu Ray movie you can expect to fork out $25 or more per movie - that's not cheap! However, Blu Ray DVD players also play standard DVDs, so you don't have to buy the Blu Ray version of each movie.Also, some places charge more for Blu Ray rentals, though most stores are adopting an equal pricing structure to help move people over to Blu Ray videos.

Another thing to know is that it takes time for a Blu Ray movie to start playing. While standard DVDs start to play almost instantly, it can take several minutes to start playing a Blu Ray DVD. Many people ignore this fact when they are busy telling others about Blu Ray players, but it's definitely an important fact to know.

A lack of titles is the final issue. While many titles are coming out on Blu Ray now, there are still many that aren't. As such, standard DVDs won't disappear any time soon. Still, after seeing some of the Blu Ray titles versus their standard counterparts, it's difficult to believe it will take too many years for people to cross over.

Blu Ray Features

With 5 times the storage capacity, much more can be packed onto a Blu Ray DVD. This means many Blu Ray DVDs have special features that can be accessed from your Blu Ray DVD player. However, you need to know something in advance ... not all players can play back all of the material!

Profile 1.0 players were the first Blu Ray DVD players available, and these are nothing more than glorified DVD players that are upscaled to play Blu Ray videos. As such, they can get to the kind of content you might find on a standard DVD, but are incapable of accessing any of the higher level content.

Profile 1.1 players add the picture-in-picture feature, which is also known as BonusView.  This allows video commentary to playback in a small window while watching the video. A gimmick feature at best ...

Profile 2.0 players are where all of the fun begins! These allow the playback of "BD-Live" features, which are downloaded form the internet. Currently nothing more than a novel toy, this feature holds a lot of promise for the future as it allows the vendor to add more to the DVD than it originally held when it was shipped: additional scenes, games, trailers. Whatever didn't make it to the disk can now make it to your home via an online connection between your Blu Ray DVD player and the internet.

Profile 3.0 players are also starting to enter the market, but these will be for audio-only DVDs, so your best current bet is a Profile 2.0 player.

Do You Need An HDTV To Watch Blu Ray Videos?

Many Blu Ray players have composite outputs, which allow non-HDTVs to be used for playback, but the quality won't be as good. To achieve the best quality your TV needs to have an HDMI input, and that means having an HDTV.

I know what you're thinking ... $200 for a Blu Ray DVD player and another $500 for an HDTV, right? Nope!

With HDTVs quickly becoming a standard, the prices on them are beginning to plummet - and the same will happen with Blu Ray DVD players in 2010. In time, you will be able to purchase an HDTV for $400 that has a Blu Ray player, but there's no need to wait so long. HDTVs are already falling below the $260 mark and Blu Ray DVD players are falling below the $100 mark.

That's less than $400 for both together! So, what are you waiting for?

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