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Buying the Right Blu-ray DVD Player For You
The home theater experience isn’t quite complete without a Blu-Ray player. Mainly because Blu-Ray players increase your level of entertainment with gorgeous high definition pictures and sound. But which Blu-Ray player is best for you? Like DVD players, different players come with many different features – some may even require additional accessories, so choosing the right one is very important. Below is an overview of common Blu-Ray features to help you choose the right player for your home entertainment setup.
High Definition – 1080p:
If you’ve purchased an HDTV, you’re probably familiar with the terms 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. Otherwise, what you need to know is that 1080p is the highest video resolution available to you. And right now Blu-Ray players are the best source to get that resolution, even high definition TV shows can’t compete with the visually stunning and clear images produced with a player. Of course, gamers alone don’t give you those superior pictures, you’ll also need a High Definition TV capable of displaying 1080p which will give you the sharpest picture possible and that’s what you should be aiming for. However, if you don’t have a 1080p HDTV, all Blu-Ray players have the ability to select the resolution that best suits your HDTV. An HDTV with a 720p or 1080i display will always give you a remarkably clear picture.
High definition sound quality:
The next big feature that draws people to the player is AUDIO. Dolby Digital and DTS are the common formats that you might be familiar with as they are provided on a DVD player. Blu-Ray has these formats as well as new higher versions of them. First, there’s Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD. They are an improvement over the Dolby Digital and DTS standards as they offer higher bitrates and more efficient compression which gives you better sound quality. And both are capable of 7.1 channel surround sound. Keep in mind that most movies produced today still only use 5.1 channel surround sound, so if you don’t have a 7.1 channel surround sound system, there’s no need to buy one. a.
Secondly, there’s Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, which uses a ‘lossless’ compression codec, meaning once decoded it’s identical to the studio master. Giving you the best sound possible, matching the movie audio you get in a cinema. There is also PCM. This is an uncompressed audio format, which is again the original studio master.
Not all players support the new audio formats. Most can support them, but they don’t have to. The three audio formats you will find in each player are Dolby Digital, DTS and PCM. Therefore, for optimal sound performance, it is a good idea to choose a Blu-Ray player that has one or more of the following audio formats: Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio.
Dolby Digital and Dolby TrueHD can be decoded internally in most players. Players that decode DTS-HD and DTS-HD Master Audio internally are rarer, but their number is growing. Although the internal decoding is excellent, you should be aware that not all players with built-in surround sound decoding have multi-channel analog outputs. You would therefore need an HDMI cable to take advantage of the player’s internal decoding. If your home theater receiver doesn’t have HDMI inputs, you’ll need to get a player with multi-channel analog connections.
Having a player with these new audio formats is only part of the story. These new audio formats should also appear on the Blu-Ray movie disc. There is no need to worry, because as of 2009 almost all Blu-Ray discs manufactured and released have at least one or more of these lossless formats (Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio and PCM).
Blu-Ray discs have all the same bonus features as on a regular DVD disc. Things like deleted scenes, alternate endings, and trailers. But it also has special interactive features different from DVD disc. Things like bonus view (picture in picture), online games, access to chat rooms and downloads. Not all players will support these features. Previous players did not have to support new “bonus features”. Three categories, called Profiles, have been established to distinguish the different types of players. Now any Blu-Ray profile plays a Blu-Ray disc, but with different profiles you get different additional features. There are three types of profiles.
Profile 1.0 is very basic with no additional features available. After November 27, 2007, all released Blu-Ray DVD players had to support profile 1.1.
Profile 1.1 is the mandatory requirement for all players. Profile 1.1 players have 256 MB of local storage. They have the picture-in-picture feature, usually referred to as bonus view. This is used to display a smaller image in the movie. Mainly used when a director or actor is commenting on a particular movie. This movie itself is displayed in the larger image. Obviously secondary video and audio decoders are needed for the smaller picture. Most major studios now have this feature in all of their standard Blu-Ray releases.
Profile 2.0 (BD-LIVE)
Includes all the features of Profile 1.1 with an increase in local storage to 1 GB. Profile 2.0, also known as BD Live, has the capability of an Internet connection, usually through an Ethernet port. It is therefore capable of interactive features while playing a Blu-Ray disc. Features such as movie-related games, downloading the latest trailers, chat rooms and other content. Most new models are more likely to be the 2.0 profile.
Some of the new players offer online streaming movies and music from Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Amazon-On-Demand and others. To use this feature, you would need subscriptions to these places and a high-speed internet connection. Some players even allow you to add it to your home network, providing access to other digital content stored on your computer.
The last thing you might want to research when choosing a player is what other type of media can it play. For example, you’re probably used to your DVD player being able to read CD-Rs or CD-RWs. Listen to MP3 or WMA files on your DVD player. Not all Blu-Ray players have these capabilities. Or they may be able to play MP3s on a CD but not on a DVD disc. You will need to watch to see if the player has any of these abilities.
In summary, here are the Key Points to remember when choosing a Blu-Ray disc player:
– Does the player support Full 1080p playback?
– Do you have an HDTV capable of displaying 720p or higher resolution. (1080p is best)
– What audio formats are supported by the player?
– What audio outputs does the player have?
– How do you connect the player to your home theater receiver, via an HDMI or analog multichannel connection?
– What profile does the player have? (Profile 2 / BD-Live is the best option)
– What types of media and video formats can the Blu-Ray DVD player use? Does it play MP3s? Can it play CD-R/RW or DVD-R/RW?
– Does the payer have online streaming capability?
Answer all these questions and finding the right Blu-Ray DVD player for you will become much easier.
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