In February 2008 blu-ray high-definition optical discs won out over HD DVDs in the battle for the eyes and hearts of America’s home theatre owning public. Blu-ray’s decisive moment of victory came when Toshiba, the main supporter of HD DVD’s, announced in a press release their intention to stop manufacturing the discs. The battle between the two home movie viewing devices has been compared to the earlier format battles between DVDs and laser discs in the late 80′s and early 90′s and VHS and betamax cassettes in the last 70′s and early 80′s.
Now that blu-ray technology has emerged as the clear winner in the newest format war, consumers are clamoring to buy blu-ray players. While most major electronics brands had a blu-ray player on the market even before the dust had cleared in the format war, now that manufacturers have a clear view of market share they are investing more time, money and technology into higher quality blu-ray players.
Consumers wondering whether it is time to trade in their old DVD player for a blu-ray player often have questions about the technology. Common questions include queries about what makes the technology better than DVD, whether blu-ray players will play discs in their DVD collections, and whether there are enough titles to make blu-ray a worthy alternative to DVD at this point.
At first glance, a blu-ray disc can be mistaken for a DVD. They are the same size and shape, and when played, the menus and controls are exactly the same. But, in a nutshell, the blu-ray disc offers superior image quality (offering resolutions at 1,920×1,080 while DVD can only offer 720×480), higher audio quality, and special features such as popup menus that can accessed while the movie is still playing. Blu-ray players can also play DVD discs, meaning your old movie collection will not be rendered obsolete like it was for owners of vast VHS collections when DVDs took over. And, as of 2008, there were about 1,200 titles available on blu-ray. That may sound like a lot, but compared to the over 90,000 titles available on DVD, the blu-ray has a long way to go.
After deciding to purchase a blu-ray player, the next step for the consumer is deciding which type of player to purchase. As with DVDs, customers are not limited to stand alone blu-ray player when it comes to watching their new discs. Some new laptop computers and at least one video game console, the Sony Playstation 3, come equipped with a blu-ray player already on board. But if you simply want to enjoy a movie on your television in the evening, the majority of blu-ray players still come as a stand alone piece of electronic equipment and will hook right to the television just like a DVD player.
Price is another obvious concern when it comes to making a major purchase, and currently blu-ray players from well-known electronics companies range from $200 to as high as $750 dollars. As the technology has grown more common though, consumer price forecasts have predicted that the price of blu-ray players will drop as low $150 or even $99.
When it comes to timing your decision to buy a new blu-ray player, it is also a good idea to keep in mind that engineers are still working on new technology for blu-ray discs, including discs that hold up to 7 hours of media or more, and a portable blu-ray disc player. As with any major purchase, it is always advisable to watch the consumer electronics reports and be sure you do not make a major purchase when a new technology breakthrough could be just around the corner.