February 18, 2009

601 words 3 mins read

Blu-Ray vs DVD

or: Did I really just pay $10 extra for that movie?

In general the price difference between a Blu-Ray Disc and a DVD is $5-$15 (though currently on Amazon, Iron Man on Blu-Ray is $1 more than the normal DVD and actually costs less than the Special Edition DVD). The question most people ask though is, “is it worth it to pay an extra $x for the Blu-Ray version?” Often people make mention that with the cost of the devices so high, they only have one BD player, while they have multiple DVD players (including the ones in their computers). The way I see it though, it is about perceived value.

What does a Blu-Ray Player give you that an Upconverting DVD Player does not?

  • For sound buffs, Blu-Ray can contain better audio (up to 7.1, though as Blu-Ray Stats shows us, not many discs contain 7.1).
  • 1080p does offer a better picture over an upconverted 480p one, though most people will not notice the difference.
  • Pop up menus — you can access a pop up menu while watching most Blu-Ray movies (though recently I watched Constantine and had to pause the movie before I could navigate the pop up menu) which allows you to tweak the setup, change the scene, and often access special features.
  • Picture in Picture — This is really only available on a case by case basis. Some movies, like Transformers and Jumper, have interesting PiP options (though only if you have a Profile 1.1 player or above).
  • BD-Live — This is a newer feature (Profile 2.0 or above) that allows you to download new content from the studios. I am sort of wary of this feature. I worry that more discs will be put out with just a BD-Live sticker on them and none of the extra features I’ve come to enjoy on my movies. Things like Alternate/Deleted Scenes and Outtakes/Gag reel. These are all things that could be made available through BD-Live, though thankfully, most BD-Live download that I have seen thus far happen to be extra… toys. On Iron Man it was a Trivia Game; Transformers had a downloadable HUD and different looks for the pop up menu (Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Megatron, IIRC).
Do any one of these features sound good to you? Does more than one? If so, then you may want to consider shelling out the extra few bucks to buy the Blu-Ray. Or of course, you could just wait till tomorrow when Amazon is having their Blu-Ray sale in the Gold Box.

Something else I have noticed is that the last few movie releases I have seen have come in 3 versions:

  1. DVD
  • Special Edition DVD with Digital Copy
  • Blu-Ray with Digital Copy With the only difference between items 2&3 being that the movie is on a Blu-Ray Disc rather than a traditional DVD. The Digital Copy comes on a standard DVD so that you can pop it into your computer, put in the special activation code and put it on your iPod or other portable movie player. This is something I wish more studios would do. I like buying a movie and not having to rip it myself if I want it on my portable device (which Fair Use laws allow for). While the digital copy the studio provides is much bulkier than my own rips, it does save me time and hard drive space, so it is a small price to pay.

Lastly, in order to give credit where credit is due, the impetus for this article was Don Reisinger’s article Is DVD movie pricing holding Blu-ray back?