Monday, August 25, 2014

What Else Can You Do with a Blu-ray Player?

Everyone got excited when Blu-ray discs first appeared: here was a way to see a movie or TV show in Full HD resolution and take advantage of the “HD” of a HDTV in a way that a DVD could not. But while Blu-ray discs continue to sell, much of its “thunder” has been taken away by TVs that can stream movies/TV shows through the Internet. As a result, the idea of buying a Blu-ray player has lessened. But the fallacy in this is that a Blu-ray player can do a whole lot more than just spin a disc inside; in fact there are things a Blu-ray player it can do that you can’t get elsewhere. It’s about time we noted them, so here they are.

4K Upscaling
There are no Blu-ray 4K discs on the market as yet, but should you be lucky (or smart) enough to have a 4K Ultra HD TV, watching what’s on a Blu-ray disc will give you a high-end picture for sure. But if the Blu-ray player has 4K upscaling, then the video being displayed will match the visual resolution aspects of the display. What that means simplified is that the video coming from the Blu-ray disc, while not actually of 4K resolution, will more perfectly match what the 4K TV expects to have on its screen. That doesn’t come as a result of streaming a picture or just connecting a player to the 4K TV; the 4K upscaling has to be built into the player. And since wanting a superior picture is what it’s all about, having this type of upscaling is a definite plus.

Smart TV
Blu-ray players include “Smart TV” features that parallel the TVs made by the same company. You might want to access an app or type of function through the TV, but the TV doesn’t have that feature. But there could be Blu-ray players that include the features you specifically want. Also there’s the GI (graphical interface) to consider too — for example, you might like how Sony does their interface, but don’t have a Sony TV. So by getting a Sony Blu-ray player you’re tapping into those features you want.  Another factor is the speed of the interface and those apps, streaming and other features. What if your TV has a “slow” processor — that makes accessing “Smart TV” features slower. Get a Blu-ray player that highlights having a fast processor and you no longer have to be so patient.

Independent HD Audio Out
Those who have home theater systems know that buying the A/V receiver isn’t something that’s done every year — the receiver is going to be working for a long time. Many use the receiver as a “switcher,” having video from cable boxes/satellite receivers, Blu-ray discs and other video source devices going into it using HDMI connectors and then having a single HDMI going out to the HDTV or 4K UHD. But what if you want to watch a 3D Blu-ray movie but the receivers isn’t 3D compatible. That’s where a second HDMI output on the Blu-ray player struts its stuff: the video can go directly to the TV while the audio goes to the receiver separately. This also means that you can play high-resolution audio off a disc without having to turn the TV on. That’s a double win-win.

Web Optimized
Videos from YouTube and other online sources share a common problem: the quality varies from one to the other and there’s no way to be sure just how good it’s going to be. TVs do their level best to display web videos decently, but it is much better to have specific technology that “looks” at online video and optimizes for viewing. A Blu-ray player that has web optimization built-in will boost image quality and so sharpen the image to make it look as good as is possible.

Of course not every Blu-ray player will provide every feature noted, but it’s easy to see that Blu-ray discs are just one of the many good points that can be found by getting a Blu-ray player for your home or home theater. And with prices so eminently reasonable, there really is no excuse not to have one.


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