Before You Buy a Blu-ray Disc Player

When DVD was introduced in 1996/97, it was a significant upgrade from VHS. However, after HDTV was introduced, two disc formats were made available in 2006 that raised the bar higher

 

Blu-ray vs. DVD

The key difference between DVD and Blu-ray/HD-DVD is that DVD is a standard definition 480i resolution format, while Blu-ray/HD-DVD disc video can be up to 1080p HDTV quality.

 

Blu-ray and HD-DVD achieved the same results but were incompatible formats (remember VHS vs. BETA?). Movie studios had to choose which format to release movies in, and consumers had to decide what format player to buy.

 

In 2008, HD-DVD was officially discontinued, leaving Blu-ray as the only high-definition disc alternative to DVD.

 

Blu-ray Discs

The main feature of a Blu-ray Disc player is to play Blu-ray discs. Many players can play both 2D and 3D Blu-ray discs (a 3D TV or 3D video projector is required).

 

Prices for Blu-ray titles are usually about $5 or $10 more than DVDs. However, older Blu-ray titles can sometimes be found priced less than some newer DVD titles.

 

Most Blu-ray Disc packages also come with a DVD version of the title.

Blu-ray Disc Player Versatility

In addition to playing Blu-ray discs, these players can do much more.

 

  • All Blu-ray Disc players (except for a couple of early models) also play DVDs and CDs.
  • Most players can access audio/video content streamed from the internet(which may include Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, and others) or local home network (PCs and media servers), and content stored on compatible USB devices, such as flash drives.
  • Some Blu-ray Disc players include Screen Mirroring (Miracast). Screen mirroring allows the audio/video sharing of content from a compatible smartphone or tablet, which, in turn, sends that audio and video to a compatible TV and audio system.
  • Some players provide CD-to-USB ripping, which allows the copying of music from a CD to a USB flash drive.

 

Your Current DVDs Are Not Obsolete If You Switch to Blu-ray

Blu-ray Disc players play DVDs, so you don’t have to throw out your DVD collection. Also, these players look better because all Blu-ray players have video upscaling capability. Although DVDs won’t look as good as actual Blu-ray discs, upscaling provides a visible improvement.

 

The Types of Connections Blu-ray Disc Players Have

When Blu-ray Disc players first came out in 2006/07, these players provided the same connections as most DVD players, which included some, or all, of the following: Composite, S-Video, and Component video outputs, Analog Stereo, Digital Optical, or Digital Coaxial Audio outputs. However, to meet the needs of high-definition resolution output capability (up to 1080p), HDMI outputs are also included.

 

On higher-end Blu-ray Disc players, 5.1/7.1 channel analog outputs are sometimes included. These outputs allow the transfer of a decoded surround sound signal to AV receivers with 5.1/7.1 analog inputs.

All players (except for some early models) have Ethernet/LAN ports for a wired connection to a home network and the internet (most players also have built-in Wi-Fi).

 

Blu-ray Disc players usually have one or two USB ports that can be used to load firmware updates and provide for one or more of the following:

 

  • BD-Live memory expansion (provides access to additional online-based content associated with specific Blu-ray Disc titles).
  • Access to digital media files stored on flash drives.
  • The connection of a USB Wi-Fi adapterfor players that do not have Wi-Fi built-in.

 

The 2013 Decision Regarding Blu-ray Disc Player Connections

A decision was made to remove all analog video connections from Blu-ray Disc players going forward from 2013.

 

Although not required, some manufacturers also opted to remove analog audio connections.

 

All Blu-ray Disc players now sold new only have HDMI outputs for video output. For audio, HDMI and either a digital optical and/or digital coaxial audio output (and sometimes 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio outputs) are provided.

 

Some players have two HDMI outputs, which are used in cases where the audio and video need to be sent to separate destinations.

Region Coding and Copy-Protection

In a similar manner as DVD, the Blu-ray Disc format has a region coding and copy protection system. This means that players sold in specific regions of the world adhere to a specific region code. However, unlike DVDs, there are fewer regions, and many Blu-ray discs aren’t always region coded.

 

The Blu-ray Disc format also supports enhanced copy-protection in two ways:

 

  • HDMI-enabled devices are required to be able to recognize each other via a handshake process to ensure a level of copy-protection. If the handshake doesn’t take place, no signals from the Blu-ray Disc player to an HDMI-equipped TV or video projector will display. The handshake process sometimes triggers a false alarm, requiring troubleshooting to correct.
  • Another level of copy-protection, specifically designed for Blu-ray, is Cinavia. Cinavia encoding prevents playback of unauthorized copies of commercial Blu-ray discs. All Blu-ray Disc players made in recent years for the U.S., and most made for other markets, include Cinavia.

 

You Need an HDTV to Get the Visual Benefits of Blu-ray

When first introduced, most Blu-ray Disc players could be connected to a TV that had at least composite video inputs. However, the only way to access full high-definition Blu-ray resolution (1080p) is through the HDMI connection, or on players made before 2013, with some restrictions, component video connections