What Is Blu-ray?
Blu-ray is a new, high-capacity format for DVD capable of storing and playing high-definition images. Using advanced technology, a Blu-ray disc is densely layered and read by a thinner laser than conventional standard DVDs. This means that a Blu-ray disc can store over five times the amount of data that a standard DVD can.
What Is the Difference Between Blu-ray and HD DVD?
Although Blu-ray and HD DVD are both high-definition media formats that rely on blue-laser technology, there are some important differences between them. The first is capacity. Because a Blu-ray player utilizes a shorter wavelength blue-violet laser than an HD DVD laser, it can focus even more closely to read more densely packed data. This allows a Blu-ray disc to have even higher capacity. A standard HD DVD can hold 15 GB per side (30 GB on a dual-layer disc), whereas Blu-ray can hold 25 GB per side (50 GB on a dual-layer disc).
The second difference is content. Several major studios and software companies are currently supporting only one of the formats, meaning that their titles may be available on DVD in only one high-definition format, either HD DVD or Blu-ray. Titles from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (including Tri-Star), Twentieth Century Fox (including MGM), Lionsgate, and Disney are on Blu-ray, while titles from Universal Pictures are releasing on HD DVD. Warner Bros., HBO, and Paramount are releasing titles in both formats.
While the two formats are not compatible with each other, they both offer vastly superior audio/video quality, extra features, and a less intrusive menu system compared to standard DVDs.
Why Is Blu-ray Better Than Standard DVD?
If you've ever seen a high-definition TV broadcast on an HDTV, then you know that an HD picture is more vivid and incredibly sharp. This stunning level of detail and resolution is impossible to reproduce on a standard DVD, which has a maximum resolution of 480p (or 480 lines). In contrast, Blu-ray has the capacity to store all of the data needed for high-definition video, so it is able to reproduce the high-definition images at a resolution of 1080p. The result is that Blu-ray brings your favorite home entertainment to life with more clarity and higher quality than ever before.
In addition, the extra disc space means there's room for significantly more content and special features. When you buy a DVD movie, you're usually not just getting the movie--you're also getting the extra features that come along with it, like director's commentary and making-of documentaries (depending on the disc, of course). With Blu-ray, there's the possibility for previously unheard-of special features. Imagine, for example, interactive content, like a director on the screen explaining the shooting of a scene while the scene is playing in the background.
Thanks to the greatly enhanced audio/video quality and additional content capability, Blu-ray is a huge step forward in the DVD viewing experience.
What Does This Mean for My Current DVD Collection?
The Blu-ray players coming out will be backward compatible and should play your current discs. The bottom line is, you can probably upgrade to a Blu-ray player and still enjoy your current DVDs. But you should double-check the particular model you are considering, just to be certain that it will play standard DVDs.
What Do I Need for Blu-ray?
To watch high-definition images, you need devices and cables that can project, receive, and transmit high-definition signals. For Blu-ray, you need an HD-compatible TV, a Blu-ray player, Blu-ray discs to watch on them, and HD-compatible cables to connect them.
HD-compatible TV Blu-ray discs support resolutions up to 1920 x 1080. However, if your TV can't display high-definition pictures, Blu-ray discs won't provide better resolution than a traditional DVD. To get a great picture, you have to have a TV that can provide that picture. Check out these recommended HD-ready TVs for Blu-ray. Blu-ray player Blu-ray discs contain a lot more information than traditional DVDs--so much information that current DVD players can't read it all. So you need an HD DVD player that can handle all that information. Check out the Sony BDP-S1 Blu-ray player, and sign up to get an e-mail notice when it's available to order. Blu-ray discs Traditional DVDs may look better on an HD-compatible TV than on a lower-resolution TV, but the DVD is still not actually high resolution. You're just seeing more of the available resolution than you could on a lower-resolution TV. And a Blu-ray player may up-convert a traditional DVD--that is, increase its resolution so it looks better on a higher-resolution screen. But for truly high-resolution images from a DVD, you need Blu-ray discs formatted with the dense new layering in the Blu-ray format. Blu-ray discs contain much more information than traditional DVDs, and they have other benefits, too. HD-compatible cables So you've got a Blu-ray player, an HD-compatible TV, and Blu-ray discs. But you're not quite ready to go. Make sure you've got the most basic component of a good home theater: the right cables. Just like DVD players and TVs, cables support different levels of resolution. And you need cables that support high-definition images. If both your TV and DVD player support HDMI, we recommend Monster Cable HDMI 400 cables. If your TV or DVD player supports only component video, try Monster Cable THX V100 cables, certified by audio giant THX.
What Else Is Recommended?
While you can get a high-definition picture on your TV with a Blu-ray player and HD-compatible cables, a few more components can truly enhance your high-definition home theater experience. We recommend a power-protection device and a high-quality home theater system.
Power-protection device Ordinary AC power accessories may not block power surges or electromagnetic interference from other devices, so they can compromise the quality of the components they power. We recommend Monster Cable PowerCenter HTS 3500 or HTS 800 to protect your components. Monster Cable's exclusive Clean Power filter circuitry reduces the noise that goes right through typical surge protectors. You get high-quality picture and sound that's free from performance-reducing interference. Home theater system Blu-ray discs can contain enhanced audio as well as video. Blu-ray players usually support various audio formats, like Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, and DTS-HD. A high-quality home theater system can bring out the improved fidelity and sonic realism of DVD soundtracks. The Denon S-301 and S-101 2.1-channel home theater systems offer great sound and looks for your new high-definition system. Don't forget to get some high-quality audio cables, too, so your audio quality matches your video quality.