A Busy Persons Guide to Blu-ray


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Busy Person’s Guides: A quick read to get to speed!

What is blu-ray, and how is it different from DVD?

When DVD came out as a new technology, it originally stood for Digital Video Disc, as the movies that were stored on it were all digital versus the analog capabilities of a VHS tape. In layman’s terms, this was when we put a DVD in for the first time and all collectively gasped as the FBI warning appeared on the screen with no, I said NO little white fuzzy dots running along the bottom of the screen.  It was completely digital. Flash forward some years, and now we have blu-ray discs. The disc looks the same, however the storage capabilities are much greater than that of a DVD, and so instead of being boring old digital, now we get actual high-definition (HD) playback and audio.

(The name “Blu-ray” actually derives from the fact that the laser used to read back the disc is in fact, blue, rather than the traditional red laser from a DVD.)

The change is subtle, at first.

Many of you, like me, may have watched a Blu-ray disc for the first time and thought, “so that’s what all the hype was about?” with a feeling of a tad disappointment. Well, there’s something that you absolutely MUST know. In order to truly appreciate what Blu-ray technology is doing for you, watch a few Blu-ray discs, and then put a DVD back in and watch it (and yes, you absolutely can watch a DVD in a Blu-ray player). Now all together: “Bllleeeeech!” It’s like going back to VHS.

In fact, now that I’m a few years in to using Blu-ray technology, some nights when I feel like my eyes need a rest, I’ll put in a Blu-ray instead of watching TV or even streaming Netflix. It’s just easier on the eyes. No more straining.

Blu-ray isn’t just about exceptional video playback; it’s also about exceptional audio.

We’re talking up to 7.1 surround, DTS, TrueHD, etc. Better storage capabilities on the disc itself means more audio options for us!

Blu-ray offers some more goodies that you can’t get on a DVD

…Such as Internet connectivity, interactive menus and interactive movie-watching. Also, since most Blu-ray players have network hookups, many Blu-ray players offer integrated Netflix and Pandora streaming.

Like DVDs, there are some movies that look better in Blu-ray than others.

I’ve noticed all animated movies from places like Pixar and Dreamworks are phenomenal. Star Trek is another eye-popper. However, when I want to show off Blu-ray technology to guests in my house, I almost always will show them one knockout, standout scene that showcases both the visual AND auditory qualities of Blu-ray – the “Dancing Queen” scene of Mamma Mia. The colors are visually stunning, and when all the dancers are standing on the dock singing, the chorus is phenomenal in DTS audio.

So, when is a good time to upgrade to Blu-ray?

I’d recommend waiting until you have two crucial pieces: a high-definition flatscreen TV, AND a home surround sound system. Why? You won’t be able to take advantage of all the audio features without surround sound. And, Blu-ray players still have some bugs to work out, so waiting for the technology to evolve until you have the proper hardware to support it will only give you the best Blu-ray player for a great price. If you already have those things, then now is a good time!

One last thing; you may wonder why, when purchasing a movie that uses Blu-ray technology, why is the disc labeled “BD”? It’s because the entire shebang is called a “Blu-ray Disc.”

Do you currently have a Blu-ray player? What are some movies that you’ve noticed are stand-out fantastic?

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