Blu-Ray Player Buying Guide

Feeling Blu for the next level of home entertainment!

Blu-ray players are clearly the next level in home entertainment; and why shouldn’t they be, for they offer a level of clarity and visual excellence that is unparalleled thus far. The latest models, that have the capability of displaying 3D movies, have certainly caused quite the turbulence in the markets, with enthusiasts queuing up outside stores to get their hands on one. Technically speaking, Blu-ray players are meant to be paired with high definition TVs, with the 1080p models being the ideal partners for displaying a stunning range of visual content.

Can Blu-ray players play standard DVDs?

Blu-ray players can also play regular DVDs, by up-converting them to pseudo high resolution clips for better display. Some of the recent models can also stream video from the internet, giving instant access  to movies and one’s favorite shows from services like Amazon Instant Video, CinemaNow, Blockbuster on Demand, Vudu, Netflix and similar online movie services. Another great option is the development of 3D capable players, which open a new world of entertainment that is indeed unparalleled and unmatched. All that is needed are 3D glasses, and the magic comes alive in one’s home.

Video Streaming

Most of the latest Blu-ray players have the ability of connecting to the internet in order to stream movies from the different online movie services mentioned above. However, this content is charged separately, and this is generally a ‘pay per view’ kind of an arrangement, but this does not mean that free content is not available. One can get plenty of the same from websites like YouTube, Picasa & Flickr (photo sharing), Pandora and eBay (online radio). A point to take care of, in due course of time, is that these services and sites can change, if the manufacturers have different arrangements with the companies, so the user would have to update the software or firmware by modifying the settings. Also, one can get browsers on Blu-ray players that can allow for surfing the internet, similar to a computer or a smartphone. Also, buying a Blu-ray player with internet access is much more affordable when compared to buying a TV that allows for internet access. The only difference is the medium, as the rest of the things are still the same.

BD-Live

All the latest models of Blu-ray players have the BD Live feature, which means that they can connect to the internet to view extra online features on Blu-ray discs, like video games, movie trailers and outtakes from the movie studio’s website. However, there are some exceptions, where the user has to use extra memory in the form of a USB Flash Drive or a memory card.

Wi-Fi

An Ethernet cable can serve as the connecting medium between the Blu-ray player and the broadband modem, but this will surely be pretty inconvenient if one is sitting in some other room. Some Blu-ray players allow for Wi-Fi capability, so that one can access the internet from any location in the house. Most of the models have it built-in, but for players that are ‘wireless ready’, an adapter (also known as a dongle) is needed to enable the wireless connection.

DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance)

TVs and Blu-ray players with DLNA support can access movies, photos and music across platforms of devices connected via the home network, like computers, mobile phones and iPods.

Navigation

Blu-ray players allow the person to navigate through the content on the disc in many ways. For instance, Chapter Preview allows for viewing the opening seconds of every section, while Chapter Gallery displays the thumbnails of the opening scenes of each section. In case one wants to watch a movie in two installments, the ‘Go-to by time’ allows for skipping to the particular hour and minute to see the rest of the movie. One can easily index specific sections on the disc with the Marker functions, and with Blu-ray Interactivity, one can navigate through the disc’s menus and content without leaving the movie.

A/V and USB connections

All the 3D Blu-ray players use the more advanced HDMI 1.4 connections, but can connect to the TV via standard high speed HDMI cables that can carry 3D and HD signals. Also, a USB port or memory card slot is present in most of the players, which allows one to play digital media files like music, photos and videos on the television. Some players also have a slide-show capability for digital photos.

Who should buy a Blu-ray player?

If one has an HDTV, buying a Blu-ray player makes complete sense, as it gives totally awesome picture and sound quality. Further, since the prices have dropped considerably, it also makes sense to buy one, as a Blu-ray disc has more picture data than a DVD, which means that pictures look more realistic. The best way to experience the magic of a Blu-ray player is if one has a 1080p HDTV, which displays all the pixels in an image. However, even if one has a 720p HDTV, the detail can certainly be noticed, but the only thing to ensure is that the TV has HDMI connectivity, since the high definition signals are transmitted by the Blu-ray player via HDMI. In case the TV is an older model, one needs to connect it using a component video input in order to get the high quality signals.

Audio capabilities

All Blu-ray players support 5.1 channel surround sound, while some exceptions also offer 7.1 surround sound, and can transmit digital signals. They can also decode the signals and transmit the analog output (stereo as well as multi channel). Almost all the latest models support high resolution multi channel audio formats like DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD; some can decode these signals internally, while others transmit these to the appropriate receiver for decoding. In the end, in order to enjoy DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD, it is essential to use an HDMI connection.

In short, this is all one needs to know about Blu-ray players to know which model should he/she purchase. Happy shopping!

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