Buying Guide: Blu-ray
No other home video format can match Blu-ray for high definition picture quality or cinema-type surround sound. Follow our simple buying guide to learn about the benefits of Blu ray and how to take advantage of them with a Blu-ray player.
What Is Blu-ray?
In the same way DVD superseded VHS, Blu-ray is the new benchmark in home entertainment. Blu ray uses a blue-violet laser to read and write information, which is more accurate than the red laser of DVD and CD. This allows more data on the same size disc. The result is:
- Superior video quality;
- Cinema quality sound;
- More room to fit a range of special features.
Is It Higher Definition?
Blu-ray is considered to be HD (high definition) format. DVD is SD (standard definition).
What Are The Benefits Of Blu-ray?
Image quality: Image resolution is measured by the number of horizontal and vertical pixels. Blu-ray provides superior resolution, which means you see image details more clearly.
- Blu-ray's maximum resolution is 1,920 x 1,080 (1080p).
- DVD is limited to 720 x 480 (480p).
- Blu-ray utilises superior video-compression methods for more contrast and richer colour.
Cinema quality sound: The high resolution sound formats, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD, recreate cinema-quality surround sound.
Special features: More storage space leaves room for more special features.
- Access menu functions and director commentary while watching a movie.
- Display a second image in a sub window.
Which Features Should I Look For?
Formats: All Blu-ray players will play CDs and DVDs, but not all players support recordable CDs and DVDs.
- Check it will play DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW or DVD-RW.
- MP3 support will play MP3 music files.
- Ensure that your Blu-ray player will play Region B discs, the Australian (Oceania) region.
DVD up-scaling: Some Blu-ray players will increase the resolution of your DVDs.
Connecting: Ensure the Blu-ray player – including a 3D Blu-ray player – has the right connections to suit your TV and home theatre.
- Look for at least one HDMI 1.3 output and a component output.
- Check if the HDMI cable is included.
- Composite and S-Video output are used to connect the player to an older TV.
- Analogue audio outputs are needed for connecting to an older amplifier.
Watch Two Things At Once On Separate Screens
A Bonus View (profile 1.1) Blu-ray player will let you watch a movie and a second screen for the extra features (such as director's commentary) at the same time.
- Some Bonus View players can connect to the Internet for firmware updates.
Can I Connect To The Net?
A BD-Live (profile 2.0) Blu-ray player will let you download extra features from the bonus movie section of your Blu-ray disc through the Internet with this function.
Look for Ethernet and USB ports.
Some will allow you to access YouTube and Picasa (to file/share/edit your pictures).
Record Your Favourite TV Shows
Record your favourite television programs to an in-built hard drive and then burn them to disc with a Blu-ray recorder.
- A Blu-ray recorder with twin HD tuners will allow you to watch one show while recording another.
- If you have an HD tuner in your TV (and a twin HD tuner recorder) you can record two shows at once while watching another separately.
- Aim for upwards of 500GB for the HDD (hard disk drive).
What Will I Need?
For perfect pictures: Without a high definition TV that is capable of displaying 1080p images, Blu-ray is wasted.
For better sound: A digital AV receiver with 5.1 or 7.1 channel audio capabilities is needed for surround sound. For the best sound look for a 7.1 channel AV receiver, HDMI input, Dolby Digital Plus and TrueHD support.
- For high quality vision and audio, connect your Blu-ray player and TV with an HDMI cable.
Simple Blu-ray Choices
Region: Ensure your Blu-ray will play Region B discs.
TV: You'll need a TV capable of projecting 1080p.
Surround sound: You'll need a digital AV receiver with 5.1 or 7.1 channel audio.
Recorders: Record your favourite show to disc.
Profile: BD Live (2.0) Blu-ray players have the most features and you can update them on the net.