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13 Things To Learn About A Blu-ray Player

13 Things To Learn About A Blu-ray Player

In the past few years, Blu-ray has received great popularity as being acclaimed as “new technology” for high-definition movie watching. Blu-ray players, must-have tools for Blu-ray disc playback, enables people to freely watch high-definition movies at home with the highest quality picture and best sound effect. If you happen to have purchased an HDTV, it’s better for you to get a Blu-ray player, since your old DVD player couldn’t play back Blu-ray discs, thus fail to make full use of HDTV screen display. You need to upgrade to a Blu-ray player and Blu-ray discs.

It should be noted that Blu-ray is currently the only high-definition disc format. Since the first Blu-ray player released in 2006, there is no shortage of Blu-ray players on the market to choose from. As you try to decide which Blu-ray player to choose, here’s a list of Blu-ray player related features and things you should know for selecting a Blu-ray player.

Disc formats

Generally speaking, all Blu-ray players can play commercial Blu-ray discs and standard DVDs. Current Blu-ray players can play commercially released CDs and may play CDs burned with MP3 files. A given model might play JPEG, WMA, or video CDs, or DVD-/+/R/RW or DVD-RAM discs you’ve recorded. Some Blu-ray and DVD players are “universal” models that can play higher-resolution SACD and DVD-Audio discs.

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DVD Upconversion

All Blu-ray players are backwards-compatible with DVD, which means you can still watch all of your older DVD movies through your new Blu-ray player. Blu-ray players can upconvert standard-definition (480i) DVDs to a high-definition (1080p) resolution. Upconversion is not as good as true high-definition because the player is essentially making up information to fill in the dots; some players do this more effectively than others.

Multichannel Analog Audio Outputs

Compared with DVD, Blu-ray offers delivers not only high video quality, but also better audio effect. Besides the basic Dolby Digital and DTS formats that are supported by DVD and TV broadcasts, Blu-ray discs still support the Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio formats, which allow for the transmission of up to eight channels of uncompressed audio. Most new Blu-ray players can decode both of these high-resolution audio formats, or they can pass the formats in their native form to be decoded by an A/V receiver.

3D Capability

With the popularity of 3D movies, more and more 3D Blu-ray movies would be available. To watch the hottest new 3D movies on a 3D-capable HDTV at home with Blu-ray 3D discs you’ve purchased or rent, your need to get a new Blu-ray player that has 3D capability. With 3D capable Blu-ray player, you could freely enjoy 3D movies at home with your family members. But this might bring you extra cost on 3D TV and 3D glasses.

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Picture Adjustability

There are several different ways in which Blu-ray players may be able to adjust the picture. Nearly all of them allow the owner to switch back and forth from a screen aspect ratio of 4:3 to 16:9 depending on the content being viewed. This is a nice feature to have when playing DVDs that are not wide-screen format. Blu-ray players may also have zoom features, black-level adjustment, and the ability to view a scene from different angles if the disc includes that feature. Brightness and sharpness controls are sometimes available as well, but it is best to adjust those through the TV instead of the Blu-ray player.

4K Upconversion

With the fast home theatre system development, new 4K displays are being introduced for ultra-HD home movie watching, though 4K displays are high priced. For home video enthusiasts, this would no doubt bring amazing movie experience. Blu-ray players with 4K upconversion capability means that such kind of Blu-ray players could improve source media files to 4K or sub-4K movie effect. Blu-ray player capable of scaling and outputting video content at 4K is called as “future proof” player.

BD-Live

Blu-ray players can have the capability of connecting through the Internet to extra online features. Things like outtakes, video games, and trailers can be viewed online through the player. Some specific movies also come with bonus features that are accessible through BD-Live. In this case, the player will display the bonus content in the movie’s menu screen. In some cases, extra memory either through a USB drive or a memory card is required for this feature.

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HDMI

Since 720P/1080i HD signal were no longer allowed to transmit via analog component, HDMI is the only output through which you can pass high-definition video. HDMI is the connection that allows you to transmit a 1080p video signal and a high-resolution audio signal from your Blu-ray player to your HDTV and/or home entertainment system. When purchasing Blu-ray player, an HDMI cable should be included.

USB

The USB port(s) on a Blu-ray player can serve multiple purposes: load new firmware if the network method is not available, attach a USB thumb drive to serve as local storage to save the BD-Live features described above (some players have internal memory to store BD-Live content, while others require you to add a USB drive for storage), play digital media files (music, movies, photos) stored on a USB drive, work as network connection by using WiFi USB dongle.

Wi-Fi connection

An Internet-enabled player has to be connected to your broadband service. All models can connect to your modem or router using an Ethernet cable, but that can be inconvenient if your player and modem/router are in different rooms. Many Blu-ray players have added Wi-Fi connection for wireless connection to the Internet, while some others require extra cost of about $50 for a Wi-Fi connection adapter.

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Video Streaming

Video streaming is a very popular feature for cinema enthusiasts that enables people to connect extra movie services online for movie watching. These services run in different ways: some sell movies and TV shows in digital format that can be downloaded to the system and player, some rent movies, while some others have monthly memberships for online movie watching. Almost every Blu-ray player that connects to the internet will have at least a few services like Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, and Vudu. If you want to use other services like CinemaNow or Amazon Instant Video, you need to be more careful when buying a player because fewer models support these apps.

DLNA

DLNA stands for Digital Living Network Alliance; it’s a standard that allows networked products to communicate with each other and share content. A DLNA-compatible Blu-ray player will connect with any DLNA media server on the same network, so you can stream personal music, photos, and videos stored on that server to enjoy through your Blu-ray player.

Cost

No matter what you are going to purchase, the cost is always a key element to the final decision. Currently, on the market, hardware Blu-ray players costs from $50 to thousands of dollars. Some Blu-ray player items cost even less, at about $30. Various brands of Blu-ray players are available, like Denon, OPPO, Sony, Marantz, and Yamaha. Compared to hardware Blu-ray players, software Blu-ray players cost less. There are even free Blu-ray player software, like Leawo’s Free Blu-ray Player, CyberLink PowerDVD, and VLC Media Player. However, to play back Blu-ray discs on computer with these Blu-ray player software tools, Blu-ray drive is required.

Featured photo credit: Designer Home Office/VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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David Brooks

An expert in web content editing and multimedia solutions

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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