The home theater experience is not quite complete without a Blu-ray DVD Disc Player. Mainly because Blu-ray players raises your entertainment level with glorious High Definition images and sounds. But which blu-ray player is the best one for you? Like DVD Players, different Blu-ray Players come with many different features – some may even require additional accessories, so choosing the right one is very important. Below is an outline of the common Blu-ray features to help you choose the right Blu-ray Disc player for your home entertainment setup.
High Definition – 1080p:
If you have purchased a HDTV set you are probably familiar with the terms 720p,1080i and 1080p. If not, basically 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 this resolution, even High Definition television broadcasts cannot compete with the visually stunning and clear images produced with a Blu-ray Player. Of course, Blu-ray Players alone do not give you these superior images, you will also need a High Definition TV set capable of displaying 1080p which will give you the clearest picture possible and this is what you should aim for. However, if you do not have a 1080p High Definition television, all Blu-ray Players have the ability to select the resolution that best suits your HDTV. A High Definition TV with a display of 720p or 1080i will still give you a remarkably clear picture.
High Definition Sound Quality:
The next big feature that draws people to the Blu-ray Player is AUDIO. Dolby Digital and DTS are the common formats you may be familiar with since these are provided on a DVD Player. Blu-ray has these formats plus superior new versions of them. First, there is Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD. They are an improvement over the standard Dolby Digital and DTS since they offer higher bit rates and more efficient compression which gives you better sound quality. And both are capable of 7.1-channel surround sound. Keep in mind, most movies produced today still only go to 5.1-channel surround sound, so if you do not have a 7.1-channel surround sound system, there is no need to go out and purchase one.
Second, is Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, which uses a “lossless” compression codec, which means once it’s decoded it is identical to the studio master. Providing you with the best possible sound, matching the movie audio you get in a theater. There is also PCM. This is an uncompressed audio format, which again matches the original studio master.
Not all blu-ray players support the new audio formats. Most can support them, but they are not required to. The three audio formats you will find in every Blu-ray Disc Player is Dolby Digital, DTS, and PCM. Therefore, to get the optimal sound performance, it is wise 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 Blu-ray Players. Players internally decoding DTS-HD and DTS-HD Master Audio is rarer but the number is increasing. While decoding internally is great, you do need to know, not all Blu-ray Players that have built-in surround sound decoding have multichannel analog outputs. So a HDMI cable would be needed to take advantage of the Blu-ray Player’s internal decoding. If your home theater receiver does not have HDMI inputs, you will need to get a Blu-ray Player with multichannel analog connections.
Having a Blu-ray Player with these new Audio formats is just one side of the story. These new audio formats also need to appear on the Blu-ray movie disc. This is nothing to worry about, because since 2009 almost every blu-ray disc manufactured and released have at least one or more of these lossless formats (Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, and PCM).
Blu-ray disc have all the same bonus features that is on a regular DVD disc. Things like deleted scenes, alternate endings and trailers. But it also has special interactive features different than the DVD disc. Things such as Bonus View (picture-in-picture), online games, access to chat rooms and downloads. Not all Blu-ray DVD Players will support these features. Earlier Blu-ray DVD Players did not have to support any new “bonus features”. Three categories, known as Profiles, have been established to distinguish between the different types of Blu-ray DVD Players. Now, any Blu-ray Profile will play a Blu-ray disc but with different Profiles you get different extra features available to you. There are three types of Profiles.
Profile 1.0 is very basic with no extra features available. After Nov 27, 2007 all of Blu-ray DVD Players released were required to support Profile 1.1.
Profile 1.1 is the mandatory requirement of all Blu-ray DVD Players. Profile 1.1 Blu-ray Players have 256 MB of local storage. They have the picture-in-picture function, mostly refer to as Bonus View. This is used to show a smaller picture within the movie. Mainly used when a director or actor is giving commentary about a particular movie. This movie itself is being displayed in the larger picture. Obviously a secondary video and audio decoders are needed for the smaller picture. Most major studios now have this feature in all 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, which is also know as BD Live, has the ability of an internet connection, usually through an Ethernet port. So it is capable of interactive features when playing a Blu-ray disc. Features such as movie-related games, downloading the latest trailers, chat rooms and other content. Most of the newer models are more likely to be Profile 2.0.
Some of the newer Blu-ray Disc Players offer online movie and music streaming from Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Amazon-On-Demand and others. In order to use this feature you would need subscriptions to these places and a broadband internet connection. Some Blu-ray 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 may want to look for in choosing a Blu-ray player is what other type of media can it play. For example, you are probably used to your DVD player being able to play CD-Rs or CD-RWs. Listening 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 would have to look to see if the Blu-ray Disc Player has any of these capabilities.
In summary, here are the Key Points to remember when choosing a Blu-ray disc player:
– Does the Blu-ray DVD Player support Full 1080p Play Back?
– Do you have a HDTV capable of displaying 720p resolution or Higher. (1080p is the best)
– What Audio formats are supported by the Blu-ray DVD Player?
– What Audio Outputs does the Blu-ray DVD Player have?
– How are you connecting the Blu-ray Player to your Home Theater Receiver, via HDMI or multichannel analog connection?
– What Profile does the Blu-ray DVD Player have? (Profile 2 / BD-Live is the best option)
– What type of media and video formats can the Blu-ray DVD Player use? Does it play MP3’s? Can it play CD-R/RWs or DVD-R/RWs?
– Does the Blu-ray DVD Player have Online Streaming capability?
Answer all these questions and finding the right Blu-ray DVD Player for you will become a lot easier.