If you love movies and do not have a Blu-ray player then you are missing out!
Blu-ray is the latest in high-definition video technology and you can find out all about it and how to decide what device to buy by reading our guide below.
What exactly is Blu-ray?
Blu-ray uses a blue-violet laser to record and play discs, providing superior picture and sound quality in comparison to a standard DVD.
Whereas DVDs are recorded in standard-definition (SD), Blu-ray discs utilise high-definition (HD) technology to give more vivid pictures and enhanced sound. They work alongside a HD Ready television and those with a 1080p set will experience the highest quality.
Blu-ray discs are also able to store more information than a standard DVD, allowing for space to be devoted to the digital file holding the film, increasing its quality, as well as allowing for enhanced extras on the disc.
Starting prices for Blu-ray players are now under £100, making them widely affordable. If you’re also looking at buying a new TV then look out for great package deals, as at selected times you can often grab a big saving when buying both together!
What about all the DVDs I already own?
The great thing about a Blu-ray player is that they can ‘upscale’ your current DVD collection to near high-definition (HD) quality, making the films look and sound a lot better than if they were played on a normal DVD player.
So rather than render your old DVDs as useless, a Blu-ray player will in fact give them a new lease of life.
What equipment will I need?
The main piece of equipment you will need is a HD Ready TV, which you can connect to a Blu-ray player via a HDMI cable. Unfortunately, unless you have one of these, you won’t get the best picture quality.
A surround sound or home cinema system including a Blu-ray player will enhance the movie viewing experience but is by no means essential.
What brands are on the market?
All of the main manufacturers have a Blu-ray player range, including Sony, LG, Samsung and Panasonic. Unless you are buying it as part of a package, there is no need to buy the same brand Blu-ray player as your TV.
Will I be able to watch 3D movies?
The majority of all middle and top range Blu-ray players are able to play 3D content, provided they are hooked up to a 3D TV. The players are also able to ‘upscale’ 2D content to as near 3D as possible.
So if you’re buying a 3D TV then make sure you match this up with a 3D blu-ray player to get the most of your home entertainment.
Can I record on a Blu-ray player?
Most Blu-ray players simply play back content and are unable to record programmes. However, at the top end of the market, there are Blu-ray players that also act as a digital television recorder (DTR) including the Samsung BD-D8500. This model allows you to access and save programmes onto the built-in hard drive so you never have to miss out on your favourite TV!
What other features should I look for?
Many Blu-ray players are now ‘Smart’, allowing users to connect to the internet to access apps such as BBC iPlayer and YouTube. Before purchasing, you should check if it has built-in WiFi or if you’ll need to purchase a separate dongle from the same manufacturer as the player, allowing you to connect wirelessly to your internet router at home.
It is also recommended to look out for the type of audio connections on your desired Blu-ray player. This ensures you are able to hook up a home cinema or speaker system to enhance your viewing experience.
What is the Blu-ray profile?
The Blu-ray profile determines how new the technology is on a selected Blu-ray player. For example, 1.0 is the first generation machine so has the oldest technology, whereas 1.1 is slightly newer with better features. The latest models have a 2.0 profile and onwards.
Can’t I just buy a PlayStation 3?
The PlayStation 3 has a built in Blu-ray player but the console is often twice the price of a mid-range Blu-ray player.
- BD Live - A feature on internet-enabled Blu-ray players, allowing users to access trailers, quizzes and other content online.
- DivX - Similar to what MP3s did for music, DivX is a popular video compressed technology and most Blu-ray players will play video files on DVDs created in this way.
- Ethernet - A port normally found on the back of the machine to allow access to the internet via a cable, rather than purchasing a dongle and using it wirelessly. However, your Blu-ray player will need to be near the router.
- DLNA - This stands for Digital Living Network Alliance and is a wireless type technology found in many products, such as TV’s, Blu-ray players and mobile phones. DLNA allows these devices to ‘talk’ to each other sharing content, such as pictures or videos.
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