Should I Purchase a Blu-Ray Player?

Basics of Blu-ray and HD Video

High definition televisions are everywhere these days. Chances are, if you've bought a flat screen TV in the past few years, it's an HDTV. If you've heard your TV described as either "720p" or "1080p," these numbers refer to how many horizontal lines make up the image on the TV screen. When it comes to image quality, the basic rule is "the more lines, the better." However, you may have noticed that DVDs or VHS tapes don't look much better on an HDTV than they did on your old bulky standard definition television.

This is because DVDs and tapes don't contain high-definition information. Your TV is capable of showing higher quality video with 720 or 1080 lines, but the DVDs can only contain video up to 576 lines (standard American DVDs usually have 480 lines). VHS contains even lower quality. If you want to take advantage of all your high definition TV's capabilities, you need a high definition video player. This is where Blu-Ray players come in.

What is Blu-Ray?
Blu-Ray is the standard format for high definition video. Blu-Ray players and discs don't look much different than regular DVDs and DVD players. The discs are the same size and the players work pretty much the same way. The important difference is Blu-Ray discs can contain a lot more information, and only Blu-Ray players are capable of reading it. Along with having better video quality to match your HDTV, this extra information allows for better audio quality and more special features.

Will a Blu-Ray player work well with my TV?
If you have an HDTV, you'll almost definitely be able to plug a Blu-Ray player into it. The important thing to remember is that only some kinds of connections will actually allow your HDTV to receive a high definition signal. The three types that work this way are HDMI, Component Video and the not-so-common DVI (DVI has been effectively replaced with HDMI – which is just DVI with audio). Be careful not to confuse "Component Video" with "Composite Video." They look similar, but only Component Video can carry a high definition signal.

In order of quality, from low to high, here are some links to pictures of the cables and jacks for these three types of connections:

 
Jack
Cable

Component


DVI


HDMI

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November 9, 2009

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