Blu-Ray Or Not

The industry has settled in with Blu-ray as the disk format for HDTV. Now the question that people are starting to ask is; is it time to switch to Blu-ray and get that new DVD player? Blu-ray is the new DVD format that stores movies almost exclusively in 1080p resolution. I am sure that we have all heard of HDTV, but what is 1080p? Is 1080p better than the HDTV that we will all be watching on our TV's in 2009?

What is the down side of Blu-ray? What is the up side of playing the highest resolution DVD's that the industry has to offer?

1080p is simply the number of original lines going across the screen, counted from top to bottom. 2008 over the air TV's were using 480i resolution, in other words 240 lines were being set over the air and the television set displayed each frame frame with a slight offset. The (i) is for interlacing and (p) is for progressive, where each frame is displayed only once at twice the resolution as the same number with the (i).

Standard DVD players can output via the component connections, typically 480p and some slightly more expensive models will output 720p and even 1080p by internal processing of the 480p image on the DVD.

So why switch to Blu-ray?


Lets first look at the advantages of Blu-ray DVD's.

1. The original image is stored normally at a resolution of 1080p, the highest currently offered for home use.
2. The signal is digital, no more snow in the picture.
3. The main output is HDMI, which carries up to eight channels of digital sound as well as the picture over one cable.
4. Most Blu-ray players can convert your existing DVD's to 1080p for a better viewing experience.


1. 1080p is great, although you will need a screen larger than 42 inches to see the difference, so unless you are going to also buy a large HDTV it will be hard to tell a difference.
2. If you do not have a HDTV with HDMI inputs, you will have to use the lower signal outputs of the Blu-ray.
3. If you have a projector that is a few years old, it may not have the HDMI inputs required for the best results.
4. Be aware that Blu-ray uses High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) for copy protection. If your display device does not have the secret key, or has any problems you will not see a picture.
5. Because of the handshake requirements of HDCP and the signal processing required for Blu-ray, there is a noticeably high time delay when starting to play the DVD and the main feature. Expect pauses at the start or when searching.
6. HDMI requires much more expensive cables. The high quality cables are larger that not as flexible this can cause problems connecting to the display device when in a close space. The HDMI connector is also small with no locking screws. Connection can sometimes become a problem.
Not only is the Blu-ray more expensive, the DVD's are also much more expensive. Currently you can get any content on standard DVD that is offered on Blu-ray DVD.
Buying a Blu-ray DVD player will almost result in purchasing a complete theater system to replace what you are currently using, or you will not see any improvement.

Bottom line:

I recommend that the last item you purchase for your entertainment center is a Blu-ray DVD player. Upgrade your TV first and make sure that it is at least 1080p. Go as large as you can afford or have space for.

I have a 42-inch 1080p LCD television for normal viewing and I may never install a Blu-ray because we can not see the difference. I do have a small inexpensive DVD player that can upscale to 1080p through the HDMI output, but I prefer to use the component output at 720p for all my DVD viewing. I set the TV to the cinema mode to fill the screen with 16: 9 movies and it as good as it gets for a 42-inch display.

I also have a theater for the larger movie experience. The 20-year-old projector still gives a great picture with a line double image and the CRT's create a nice soft image that is easy on the eyes. At some point I will upgrade to a 1080p HDTV projector for my nine-foot wide screen and then maybe, just maybe in about ten more years consider a Blu-ray DVD player