Do you want to buy an (Ultra HD) Blu-ray player? When you go to the store for a new player, you can no longer ignore Blu-ray. Nowadays, the majority of consumers have a full HD TV or an Ultra HD TV, so if you want to enjoy those high resolutions optimally, you should go for a Blu-ray player. But, what should you pay attention to before buying a Blu-ray player? We put it together in this article.
What is Blu-ray?
Blu-ray has been the new format for the physical distribution of films, series, documentaries and much more video content for almost 10 years. Blu-ray offers a higher (Full HD) resolution than DVD, can store more information on one disc and also offers more possibilities for high-resolution audio formats. Also, Blu-ray with DVD differs in the hardware to be used for playback. As the name implies, Blu-ray discs are read with a blue laser. You can find all kinds of content on Blu-ray discs and although much is still released on both DVD and Blu-ray discs, Blu-ray is now the standard. In addition, you can only fully enjoy your Full HD or Ultra HD TV when you play these discs through a Blu-ray player.
Ultra HD Blu-ray
However, since the end of 2015, a new version of Blu-ray has been released called Ultra HD Blu-ray. This version offers an even better quality, but an Ultra HD Blu-ray player is also needed to display that quality. Ultra HD Blu-ray discs can be recognized by the black covers, whereas normal Blu-ray discs had a blue cover. We also see the Ultra HD logo on it. In addition to the high 4K Ultra HD resolution, most Ultra HD Blu-ray films feature HDR ( high dynamic range) display and a larger color gamut (rec. 2020). These elements together should provide a much better viewing experience. The Ultra HD Blu-ray films cost between 20 and 40 euros each. The offer is not that large yet, but all major film studios have announced that they will (also) release the latest films on Ultra HD Blu-ray and various old titles are being re-released in this format.
To play Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, you first need a TV that supports the high 4K Ultra HD resolution and preferably can also display HDR content. If you have one, you also need an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. These players are a lot more expensive than the standard Blu-ray players and at the time of writing the offer is not yet large. In 2016, Samsung released the UBD-K8500 and Panasonic launched the DMP-UB900 and DMP-UB700 . These players support the Ultra HD resolution, can display HDR content with a large color gamut and offer support for the latest audio formats such as Dolby Atmos.
Normal Blu-ray discs are currently for sale for prices between 10 and 25 euros each. You can get Blu-ray players for prices from 50 euros, but for a little quality you quickly pay 100 to 150 euros. You can buy Ultra HD Blu-ray discs for prices between 20 and 40 euros. The Ultra HD Blu-ray players are for sale for prices between 300 and 700 euros, but we expect these prices to fall in 2017, mainly due to the growing range.
What can you play on a Blu-ray player?
Blu-ray players can be used to play almost all your media. First, they can play all of your physical media; CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays. So your current collection of DVDs does not have to be thrown away. Please note; Ultra HD Blu-ray discs can therefore only be played with a designated player. These devices also play normal Blu-ray discs, DVDs and CDs.
In addition, most Blu-ray players have one or more USB connections so that you can connect a USB stick or disk for playing digital files. Today, Blu-ray players also come with various streaming options so that you can display media from your home network via DLNA, among other things. In most cases there is also access to streaming services for video, including Netflix.
Blu-ray players and internet
Most Blu-ray players have a built-in WiFi module so you can connect them wirelessly to the internet at home. Some models come with an ethernet port so that this connection can also be made via a cable. A connection to the internet has several advantages. For example, as indicated above, you can stream media from your home network and access streaming services. Most Blu-ray players also offer access to various entertainment apps. In addition, an internet connection offers the possibility to update the firmware (software) of the player, giving you access to the latest functions and solving problems. And, a link with the internet also allows operation via an app for your smartphone or tablet.
An extra function that was introduced with the arrival of Blu-ray is the BD-Live function . With BD-Live, if connected to the internet, you get access to extra content with certain films that is often interactive. Think of online games, social media and websites. Blu-ray players also have extra options through the addition of Java, among other things. This allows nicer and more advanced extras to be placed on the Blu-ray disc, such as choosing camera positions or searching information during the movie.
Although the 3D hype has died down, many Blu-ray players can still display 3D Blu-ray movies. Do you have 3D movies and do you have a TV that can display 3D material? Make sure you buy a Blu-ray player with 3D support. These players can also play normal Blu-ray discs, DVDs and CDs, but offer 3D support as an extra. Ultra HD Blu-ray players can also handle 3D Blu-ray discs as standard.
A not unimportant point is the number and type of connections on the Blu-ray player. For example, if you want to be able to store one or two USB sticks, it is wise to pay attention to this. Some players also have a built-in SD card reader, for example to display your photos and videos. In addition, high-end Blu-ray players often have 5.1 or 7.1-channel analog audio outputs with which you can connect the player analog to an amplifier or receiver. A final point in terms of connections is that some players come with two HDMI outputs. This is for separating audio and video and serves two purposes.
Firstly, this makes it possible to link an AV receiver that does not support Ultra HD and / or HDR, for example. You then connect the receiver via HDMI for the audio and the TV via HDMI for the image. Second, it is for those who believe in separating the audio and video by definition for better results, but we are not convinced either. Does your receiver, amplifier, home cinema set or soundar not have HDMI connections? Then make sure that the Blu-ray player has the same digital audio connections so that the digital link with your audio system can be made.