You may have recently walked into one of your favorite stores, only to find that the DVD movie aisle shrunk and that some skinny blue boxes moved in on their turf. If you haven’t been officially introduced, those are blu-ray discs. They’re the latest and greatest video format for the masses. Before you get upset and think your DVD collection is obsolete, please read on. You’re safe…for now. Blu-ray discs are the same physical size as a DVD or CD, and blu-ray players are capable of playing DVDs and CDs, but that’s where the similarities end.
The blu-ray format brings many great features and new functionality to the table. I’m not only talking about the discs themselves, but the players also have a major role in the experience. So, what can “blu” do for you? A lot! Blu-ray is the first major format to take advantage of the maximum performance of current TVs and projectors and play in full high-definition. Most high-definition cable TV programming is not actually shown in full high-definition, so the picture from a blu-ray will send you to cloud nine. But what would a new format be if it didn’t take audio into consideration too? They thought of it and can deliver uncompressed, high-definition sound, just as it was recorded. There are two flavors (formats) for this high-definition sound on a blu-ray: Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. In order to hear this fantastic sound, you will need an audio/video receiver or TV capable of playing those formats. If you don’t have a receiver capable of those formats, you’ll still hear it, but not in all its glory.
I hope you didn’t think that was it. Oh no. There’s a lot more where that came from and it only gets more exciting! More recently, advancements have been made in two wildly popular areas and have been added to most new blu-ray players available today: digital media and 3D! First, I’ll tell you a little about 3D. It’s cool! If you’ve been to a 3D movie in theaters lately, you have an idea of the experience. It’s basically the same, but on a smaller screen. If you haven’t, it really is fun. 3D doesn’t necessarily make things “jump out” at you. Instead, it adds a significant amount of depth. I recently watched a 3D blu-ray by IMAX about undersea life and it was just like being at the New England Aquarium. Gone are the times of paper “glasses” with red and blue lenses. You still need to wear glasses (at the moment), but they are slightly tinted, rather than two different colors. A 3D-capable TV is also required to view 3D content from a blu-ray player.
Many new blu-ray players can also connect to the internet. These players typically allow you to view various types of digital content. If you aren’t familiar with digital content, it’s basically music, movies and other content you can enjoy over the internet without the need for a disc. You can watch movies online from various providers like Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, Blockbuster and YouTube, listen to music on Pandora, stay current with the latest happenings on Twitter and stay in touch with family and friends on Facebook. You don’t need to be a computer whiz, just do it all from your remote. It’s that easy.
Ok, so why should blu-ray matter to you? It all comes down to exceptional quality and incredible features at prices that most people can afford.