Blu-ray players and Blu-ray movies are generating a lot of excitement. Now that the “format war” is over with Blu-ray crowned the victor, consumers are getting ready to embrace high-definition on a disc, namely, Blu-ray Discs! This guide will make sure you understand Blu-ray and get the most out of your experience.
What do you get with Blu-ray?
There are four primary advantages Blu-ray Disc movies have over their DVD equivalents:
o Improved capacity and durability. Blu-ray Discs have up to 50GB of disc capacity for a dual-layer disc, which is over 5x more than a double-layer DVD. Blu-ray discs carry the data close to the surface of the disc, so a hard coat is applied to protect the fragile data. This hard coat is extremely durable and resists scratches and fingerprints.
o Improved video quality. Blu-ray Disc movies have up to 6x the picture detail of a standard DVD. Numbers are not the way to describe the difference, though! Suffice it to say the sharpness, depth, color and detail is far greater than anything you have ever experienced before. No matter what they say about upconverting DVD players providing “near high-def quality,” after you experience Blu-ray it is more of a country mile than “near.” The bigger the screen size, the bigger the difference.
o Improved audio quality. Most Blu-ray Discs have lossless audio, which, obviously, means no loss of sound quality. In short the sound quality from Blu-ray Discs is capable of matching the master tapes from the studio. If you have a sound system capable of using the lossless audio formats, the difference in sound quality is just as apparent as the difference in video quality. In fact, when doing demonstrations in my own home theater before I even get to explain that the sound as well as the video is high-definition the viewers make comments such as “Wow, the sound!” or “I’ve never heard sound like that anywhere.” You need a relatively recent surround sound setup to experience the lossless sound; more on that later.
o Improved interactivity. Blu-ray Discs and players use BD-Java, a version of Sun Microsystems’s Java programming that is ubiquitous on the Internet. Using Java allows the studios to put games and other interactive features on the discs, as well as menus that can be accessed while the movie is playing. (Once you have experienced the latter, it’s even harder to go back to DVD!) The downside to the BD-Java is that it requires a lot of processing power and early Blu-ray players may take several minutes to load the discs once they are placed in the player. Compatibility problems may exists as well and the player may need a firmware update to function properly. Blu-ray will soon be introducing Profile 2.0, or “BD-Live” which will bring Web interactivity to Blu-ray and all