Are You Blu?
There’s only one reason for getting a Blu-ray player – you want to see a high-definition picture that’s better than the one you get through your HD TV channels or from the DVDs you own or rent. A Blu-ray player takes care of that nicely. It supplies a high definition picture that can be up to 1080p resolution, the highest resolution available for home viewing at this time. You also get audio that is just as significantly better than the audio supported by DVD or provided through the television. In use, it’s no different than playing a DVD, although there are more controls to use on the remote. Hooking it up can be just as easy as setting up your DVD player, although again there are differences such as using HDMI for transmitting both picture and sound. There are plenty of Blu-ray players to pick from too, and with varying features that don’t necessarily increase the price. Best of all, you can get the same quality if not better in the physical "build" because Sony and Samsung and all the other makers of BD players are in their third or even fourth generation models already. This means that all the little kinks and problems of a new technology (i.e. the BD player) have been mostly worked out.
To Internet or Not to Internet
One item that is worth noting by itself about Blu-ray players is that they can access the Internet (providing they’ve an Ethernet connection which most do have now). This allows selected Blu-ray discs (the majority of new releases support this feature) to access special online servers for additional content to download or stream or for games to play or things to buy relating to the movie. If something like this appeals to you, and you can place the Blu-ray player where it can become part of your wireless or wired network, then there’s no reason not to get the Blu-ray player. It’s not like you pay extra for the BD discs when they have this feature available.
Checking the Home Theater Setup
Another area of discussion revolves around your existing home theater package. Do you have an HDTV – maybe being used with cable or satellite HD television? If so, hooking up a BD player will enable you to get high-definition from another source. Of course if you don’t have an HDTV, there’s no reason not to continue with your DVD player since you wouldn’t be able to see the higher resolution anyway. If you DO have an HDTV and don’t have any HD channels to watch or haven’t been using it to even upscale DVDs, then you don’t know what you’ve been missing. Go to a local sports bar or a friends who has HD content playing to see the difference in quality. Then consider that a Blu-ray’s video is not compressed like what is coming from a DirecTV or broadcasted television, but a much purer and stronger (up to 1080p resolution ) signal.
There’s also the question of your sound system. If audio comes from the TV, then there’s no reason to worry about getting higher definition sound. You’re already used to the limitations of stereo and perhaps there’s a "virtual surround" setting being used when playing a DVD. Of course you might have a surround system in place with plenty of speakers already. But if the amplifier doesn’t have an HDMI input (with associated technology for handling the newer audio formats) or analogue inputs for taking linear PCM audio – nothing coming from the BD player other than the same digital audio as a DVD is going to happen. So there’s no need to be concerned. Of course if you’re planning on getting a new amplifier anyway, or a Blu-ray player that comes with an amp and speakers as a total package (home theater in a box), that’s another story altogether.
The Wallet and Emotions
Finally in today’s budget conscious world there’s still price to consider. Fortunately Blu-ray players aren’t as ridiculously priced as they once were, but they can still be a serious investment of a couple of hundred dollars. And like a razor, once you buy it, you’ll have to start building your film collection of Blu-ray discs and that’s when the real cost will start coming in (since BD discs cost at least a third more than DVDs on average).
So you see there’s a lot to consider. And that’s without even taking your wants and desires into account. Fold those into the package and depending upon what comes out you’re either saying hello to the status quo or greetings to a new Blu-ray player.