Blu-ray Disc players and PC drives, as well as Sony's PlayStation 3, use a blue laser beam to read data from discs, rather than the older red lasers used for DVDs. A blue laser can be focused more tightly, so disc makers can pack more data on a disc the same size as a DVD. Blu-ray Discs can hold up to 50 gigabytes, compared to a DVD, which holds less than 10 GB. That added capacity can hold video up to six times the resolution of DVD, plus more bonus features and improved surround soundtracks.
Most people can easily see Blu-ray's improvement in picture quality. The video resolution, called "1080p" because it constantly (or progressively, hence the p) redraws 1,080 lines across the screen (each line containing 1,920 pixels), surpasses the best HDTV broadcast or cable signals.Other than a BD player, you'll probably want an HDTV, to get the full quality and widescreen effect. (When watched on a older, standard-shaped tube set, the image is severely letterboxed with dark bands above and below.) Before buying a Blu-ray player to connect to an older TV, check the player's back panel: Not all have the kinds of outputs needed to connect to older sets. Most players send audio and video to newer TVs and displays via a single cable called HDMI. And don't get caught up in the various flavors of HDTV — 720p, 1080i and 1080p — because Blu-ray players can send an HD signal to any of them.
All Blu-ray players will play standard DVDs — and most "up-convert" those DVDs so they look closer to HD quality. Most players handle music CDs as well. If you are particularly interested in checking out picture-in-picture commentary tracks and online bonus features on discs, look for players that include Profile 1.1 (picture-in-picture capability) and BD-Live or Profile 2.0 (online connections) among the specifications.
Initially, the only player that was fully equipped was Sony's PS3 game system, but many current Blu-ray players in the $250 range have both sets of features.Two recent entries, the LG BD300 ($350) and the Samsung BD-P2550 ($370) also let Netflix subscribers stream movies. Earlier this year, players sold for at least $400, but special holiday deals have resulted in entry-level models.As newer, more expensive models continue to hit stores, older ones will be reduced in price.Consumers have become increasingly price-sensitive, thanks to DVD.
Blu-ray players will play DVDs and most will boost the video resolution (or "up-rez" them), so "there is no reason for the consumer to think that all of their video library is going to be antiquated.Studios will try to entice movie lovers to repurchase films they may have already on DVD (and perhaps videocassette) by remastering the video and adding new extra features.
Some discs have interactive games, such as the Casino Royale Collector's Edition's multiplayer Bond trivia game. A few of the newest releases take advantage of bonus features delivered via the Internet: Last month, Del Toro (Director of HellBoy 2:The Golden Army) conducted an online chat with owners of the Hellboy II Blu-ray Disc.
Blu-ray will sound as good as DVDs do on your system. Many HDTVs and displays have built-in speakers, but surround-sound fanatics will want to make sure their receiver has digital audio inputs. And movie fans who want to get the most out of Blu-ray's improved soundtracks will want to look for higher-priced players that either decode or pass along ultra-high-resolution sound formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Discs such as Dark Knight (out Tuesday) can hold one or more soundtracks with up to seven speaker channels (plus a subwoofer) for those fortunate enough to have top sound equipment.
So far, about 1,000 Blu-ray Discs have been released, compared with more than 93,700 DVDs, according to The DVD Release Report. Current movie downloads can take two hours or more to arrive, and even those labeled high definition do not match the quality of Blu-ray.So far,Blue ray is the way to go...
posted by XERO . Mike Snider.USA TODAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED .