Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Blu-ray Players are Better

There's an old proverb that goes "a chain is only as good as the weakest link." How this applies to watching movies and TV shows at home is all about the resolution, or detail of the picture. Techie talk aside, you can enjoy a romantic comedy or blockbuster action film or an animated cartoon at pretty much any resolution: videocassettes were big in their day after all, and it's only been the last two decades that's seen the good old TV set having gone from having a picture based on tube-based 480i quality. But with HD TVs now well within the means of anyone seriously looking for a big television, the expectation of what is to appear on it is to be high-resolution. And while that might occasionally mean 720p, as opposed to the top-end 1080p, the end result on screen looks too sharp and too detailed to be mistaken for the mush of the old days. Too bad that the actual content that is getting placed on the HDTV can't be assumed to be the same.

Technology changes over time and sometimes it's pretty bad to begin with. No one expects a home movie shot on Super 8 or even 8mm film to look as good as one of today's digital HD videos. But when talking about commercial films like Hollywood movies, then things are different. You can take a film shot 40+ years ago and present it with HD detail. But that's only if the media that the film is on has the ability to handle a resolution-heavy movie. Take EAST OF EDEN, one of James Dean's classic films, for example. Warner Bros. released it in HD quality on a Blu-ray disc. Now EAST OF EDEN is in black and white, but in order for it to be presented for home viewing in HD, only a Blu-Ray disc had the physical space needed. And since the disc must transfer the video signal at a consistently high rate of speed, the video player itself has to be built to accommodate these technical requirements.

So it seems dumb that Blu-ray players should be given the heave-ho in favor of streaming a movie, like from Netflix or some other service. Few have high-speed networks that can provide the kind of speed needed to send a stable HD signal through the airwaves to begin with. Not to mention the bottlenecks that can happen between the TV and the network and the server sending the video, and all the other problems that can develop in between. Or that a streaming video might decide at any given time to degrade (lower) the resolution in order to be able to continue sending the video being watched. Now compare that to a Blu-ray player, which has a single HDMI cable going from it to the TV. Or that a Blu-ray Disc doesn't care if you pause it to go to the bathroom, answer the phone or postpone playing the rest until another time. Or that the level of the 1080p resolution is "locked in" and won't be changing arbitrarily. If you're paying for HD, that's what you're getting with a Blu-ray Disc. Plus there's HD sound on the disc, while most streaming thinks stereo is all that's wanted. That's so wrong it's not even worth discussing.

What is worth discussing is the final roadblock -- price. Blu-ray players were once expensive (even as DVD players and videocassette players before them), but now those from reputable manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, LG and others can be found at prices that don't cause the least "sticker shock." Plus you're not getting stripped down models in order to save dollars: WiFi, up-converting, 3D and "Smart TV" features can be found built-in as well.

But it's all about the picture that you're getting when the BD disc starts spinning and the picture starts playing: it's bright, colorful, full of life and detailed as all get-out. It's what you got a HD TV for in the first place and why watching a movie at home instead of a movie theater isn't anything to feel inferior about anymore.

1 comment:

  1. Sometime there are many heart touching moment that happen in all our families. We capture it by a film or a picture. We want to keep it to see our next generation. For this we need a preservation system. 8mm Film Transfer to DVD is a great option.