I did it. After fighting the advertising pressure for five years, I finally gave in and bought a Blu-Ray player over the Thanksgiving weekend. I still can’t see spending $30 a movie, but there are a few surprising things that come with most Blu-Ray players that really made me happy with the purchase.
First off, there are so many internet streaming functions available through many Blu-Ray players and as a media box, it works worlds better than my Xbox 360. I’ve used the Xbox over the years for a few different types of media streaming, but the functionality, ease, and number of content providers available through my Blu-Ray player is simply awesome. I had no idea that I’d really like having YouTube hooked up to my TV, but I do. And with Hulu Plus, Vudu, and some of the other services, I’m going to take a long hard look at cutting back on my cable bill and getting content elsewhere. Plus, there’s Pandora. I use Pandora a lot on my laptop, but some of the channels are ideal for pumping through my entertainment center and really enjoying the music. Last.FM through Xbox just doesn’t compare.
Secondly, as a media streaming device, I expect it to be substantially easier to use video and audio that I ripped to our home network. I still need some time to work on this, but after spending some time with the player, it seems like it will handle everything that I want it to without having to buy a separate media streaming box or dealing with the less than user-friendly Xbox.
Lastly, and the biggest surprise is the picture. Of course, I know Blu-Ray is 1080p. A true High Definition picture and I expected the video quality to be excellent. I still may choose to buy or rent some films on DVD where I think the clarity of Blu-Ray hampers the film (i.e. cheap CGI which DVD blurs a bit, but obviously appears as crap on Blu-Ray). Perhaps the companies are slighting us nowadays with the quality of DVDs, since the color pallete often looks a lot more drab than I thought was necessary on DVD, but there is no doubt that colors and the images really pop on Blu-Ray.
However, that’s not the picture that surprised me. It was when I first tried out a DVD in the Blu-Ray player. Amazing! Simply amazing. I have an Audio/Video Receiver that does a good job of upconverting standard definition video to high def and a brilliant Plasma television that does a great job upconverting. So why was I surprised? The perfect digital connection allows the Blu-Ray processing to really display it’s glory. If you’re like me, then your DVD player at best has component cables (the red, green, and blue ones). It really provides a nice picture, but it’s analog and therefore you inherently lose a generation of quality when you’re watching it. Playing the DVD in a Blu-Ray player with the perfect digital signal passing through HDMI cables from beginning to end lead to the best possible picture.
Apparently I’m not going to have to replace my entire DVD library. One film in and I”m totally impressed. Looking forward to checking out some of my Superbit DVDs and the last Star Wars Special Edition package I bought (not Blu-Ray). My wife doesn’t get it, but I’m so happy with the purchase. I now understand why everyone always said that if you have a great High Definition Television and you don’t have a Blu-Ray player, you really aren’t seeing what your TV is capable of.