Ray Disc

October 2nd, 2010

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Blu ray or a upscaling player? Is blu ray disc player worth it to buy?

I just bought a LCD 1080i. I"m debating on just buying upscaling or blu ray disc player. Can Blu ray play regular DVDs and play on 1080i format? Or should I just save money and by a upscaling player that plays regular DVDs. How is the output on the upscaling player?

Not an easy question to answer.

First, you will have to decide based on YOUR priorities ... but let me offer some things to consider.

- Blu-ray is, and will likely remain, a niche premium format for people who can benefit and are willing to pay the premium price (~$300+ for the player and $5-$20 more for disks of the same movie vs DVD).

- Opinion of Blu-ray can vary from "wow!" to "what's all the fuss about" ... depending on how it is being displayed.

- To FULLY benefit you need a 40" or larger 1080p HDTV, with a good surround sound system capable of handling the advanced audio formats.

- You will still get some benefit from Blu-ray with a 720p HDTV (what you have), but you don't mention screen size, where you intend to watch from and whether you have a good sound system ... all of which influence the benefit/cost equation.

- Many Blu-ray films are poorly mastered and don't look much better than DVD even under optimum conditions.

- An upconverting DVD player won't make a DVD look as good as a Blu-ray disk, but on a 720p HDTV under about 40" detail will look fairly close. But picture quality is subjective -- and dependent on more than just resolution -- so you really have to see it for yourself and decide if Blu-Ray is worthwhile. Why not view a DVD and a Blu-ray disk on a HDTV similar to yours and see for yourself?

Personally I can say that I have a 720p projector and a 110" screen, and I tried HD DVD disks (which give essentially identical picture and audio quality to Blu-ray) and found insignificant improvement over upscaled DVDs. Since then I have bought 2 HD DVD tiltes (Planet eart and Sunrise Earth) and over 50 DVDs. I use my HD DVD player as an upscaling DVD player ... and pay about $20 less for movies than if I bought Blu-ray. So I guess I'm biased ... but upconverted DVD look just fine with me.

I should caution that not everyone sees the same thing (which is why I recommended seeing for yourself).

If you do consider an upconverting players note they are only as good as the video processing chip they use ... so avoid the under $60 models. The best are Oppo's models but they are a bit pricy.

BTW, if you do decide an upconverting DVD player is enough the liquidation prices (~$75) in effect on the Toshiba HD-A3 or Venture HD-7000 (Wal-Mart's brand) HD DVD player make them a very attractive option (and as a bonus you can play any of the 400 HD DVD movies available (Noting there will be very few new ones after this month)). But you will have to move fairly fast .. a lot of people have realized the same thing and they are getting snapped up fast.

Finally, if you decide on Blu-ray, other than the PS3, you should wait until near the end of the year to get a Profile 2.0 (BD-Live!) player, and for prices to come down a bit.

Hope that helps.

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