Is HDTV Making you Blu?

Marcel BrownAs the market prepares for the inevitable HDTV blitz this year and next, one very important consideration consumers should be aware of is the choice of a high definition disc player. Many people are not aware that their standard DVD player is not a high definition device. While the picture quality of a DVD player should be better on a HDTV than a standard definition (SD) TV, it is actually possible for the picture quality of a DVD player to look fairly poor on an HDTV. This is especially true when using older DVD players or HDTVs. While most newer HDTVs have technology that improves the picture quality of SD sources, many people will notice that their old DVD player doesn’t look as good as a true HD source. So to get the most out of your new HDTV, you should consider an HD disc player.

As some may have been aware, until very recently a “format war” existed between two competing high definition disc formats. One format was named HD-DVD, the other named Blu-Ray. In January, the Blu-Ray format gained the exclusive support of all 6 major movie studios, effectively becoming the successor to DVD. By February all HD-DVD manufacturers cancelled further production and by now, retailers have cleared or are clearing their inventories of HD-DVD players and movies. Therefore, if you are looking for a high definition disc player, make sure you are shopping for Blu-Ray and not HD-DVD.

While Blu-Ray does not use the term “DVD”, all Blu-Ray players do in fact have backward compatibility with current DVD discs. And most Blu-Ray players will “upconvert” the resolution of DVD discs to look better on HDTVs. So while your old DVD movies won’t look as good as a true HD Blu-Ray movie, you will at least be able to watch your current DVD collection with a Blu-Ray player and your movies should look better than on your old TV.

Also, don’t confuse the cancellation of HD-DVD with the current DVD format. The current DVD format is still alive and well and will continue to be produced for quite some time in the future. Really the only thing HD-DVD and DVD have in common are the letters DVD. So don’t worry that you won’t be able to rent or purchase movies for your current DVD player.

Now the first question most people will have is, “which Blu-Ray player should I get?” As Blu-Ray is still a very young standard, only one generation of players have been produced. As manufacturers are readying to release a second generation of players, currently the common advice is to wait for the second generation of players. However, my answer may surprise you. If you’d like to get a good quality Blu-Ray player, yet still have some assurance that the player will have some upgradability to newer features of the second generation players, consider the Sony Playstation 3.

Yes, the Playstation 3 is a video game machine, however all Playstation 3 units can play Blu-Ray movies. Since Sony was one of the original supporters of the Blu-Ray format, it is no coincidence they did this. Already, Sony has updated the software of the Playstation 3 a few times, and each time they did, they have improved some aspect of the Blu-Ray feature. The real kicker is that the Playstation 3 is about the same price as a normal Blu-Ray player. So for about $400, you can purchase a Playstation 3 and be able to play games as well as play Blu-Ray discs. Prices are not expected to drop soon on Blu-Ray players, especially now that the HD-DVD format is no longer competing. In fact, it appears prices have actually risen on Blu-Ray players since since the format war ended, yet the price on the Playstation 3 has not changed.

If you have any questions about HDTV, please feel free to contact me.