What is the difference and is it worth buying a $200 Blu-ray disc player and $10 extra per movie?
The difference comes down to the amount information used to re-create the sight and sound of the movie you are watching. If your eye is just begging for a clearer picture or your ear begs to be blasted with real-to-life audio that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the scene, then maybe BD is for you. Yesterday I wrote about the difference between the different kinds of DVDs and that double layer discs can hold about 8 Gigabytes (GB) of information. BD can hold a whopping 25GB on a single layer disc! Allow me to explain why that is important.
When a movie is put onto a disc, it’s compressed. The more you compress it the lower the resulting quality. To better understand it, let’s do a little math, shall we? Let’s assume a normal picture using a digital camera takes up about 1 Megabyte (MB) of data (not exactly realistic, but it’ll make the math a little easier). Basic video is 24 frames per second (fps). So we can say one second of uncompressed video would be about 24MB. There are 360 seconds in an hour resulting in 8,640MB of uncompressed video per hour. A normal movie is about two hours, or 17, 280MB. Converted to Gigabytes that’s 17.3 GB! In order to fit just the movie (not even special features or bloopers) onto a DVD the movie would have to be compressed to 1/5th its original size. This results in a LOT of lost information. In other words a picture that is much less clear than the original. (Think the difference between SD and HD.) Now if you were able to keep the “original” quality you could put the whole thing on a BD! The result is a much clearer, much better sounding movie.
Unfortunately, it’s not all that simple. First, you have to have an HDTV that will be able to benefit from all that additional goodness. Second, you’ll need to use HDMI cables, which are somewhat expensive compared to other video cables. Other cables require compressing the video so what’s the point, right? Third, and slightly less important, you’ll want to pipe the sound through a Surround Sound System or your won’t be able to tell the difference between regular DVD audio and BD audio. So! Is it worth it?
If you have an “old school” tube TV, no. Absolutely not. If you have an LCD or Plasma TV, maybe, if you are thinking ahead and plan on purchasing a Surround Sound Home Theater System (5 or more speakers). If you have an HDTV and a Surround Sound System and can tell the difference between SD and HD television shows you might want to consider a BD player. Otherwise, be patient and save your hard earned money. Stick with your DVD player. You can increase the video quality just by switching to an HDMI cable.