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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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