Is there really a difference between Blu-ray and regular DVDs, or is it all just a marketing ploy to get you to buy something else, a planned obsolescence that will cost you money for nothing?
Yes and no. It depends on how much you love technology, and how clear you want your movies. Permit me a little technobabble:
DVDs came out around 1997. They encode data in microscopic bands that are 650 nanometers wide (for comparison, a strand of DNA is 2.5 nanometers wide). Each disc holds about 8 gigabytes of information, which translates out to about three hours of movie time at a resolution of 480 pixels – pixels being a measurement of visual detail. DVDs are read with a red laser. They’ve been out long enough that they are very cheap to manufacture and purchase.
Blu-rays came out around 2006 after a battle with High Definition video format (remember the battle of Betamax?). Blu-rays are read with a blue gallium nitride laser (hence the blue ray). A Blu-ray reads from a band that is only 405 nanometers wide, which means it holds more data – up to 50 gigabytes, or, depending on how it is coded, between 5 and 23 hours of video on one disc! The resolution, or clarity of picture, on a Blu-ray is 1080 pixels, which means, if you’re watching a blu-ray on a large screen and have good cables connecting the box to your TV, the picture is so clear you start to see the grains of makeup powder on the actors’ faces, or the lines of the edges of the contacts in their eyes. The downside of Blu-rays (other than cost)? They take longer to boot up than a conventional DVD, because they have all that extra data. Blu-ray players can read regular DVDs, but those regular red DVD lasers cannot read blu-rays, so if you do choose to upgrade to a blu-ray player (which can now be bought for as little as $30), your old DVD collection isn’t in any danger.
So how do you like your movies? If you’re a casual watcher who just wants to say “Yes, I saw that,” then carry on with your regular player. DVDs are still very much in the market and aren’t going anywhere very fast. If you live and breathe your movies, nitpick them scene by scene for trivia or like a freeze-frame that’s clear enough to hang on a wall, you may prefer Blu-ray. My husband himself thought it was all hype until he watched Star Wars in Blu-ray, and suddenly saw things he never noticed before. The larger your TV screen, the larger the difference in clarity you will notice with Blu-ray, because of the increased resolution. The picture won’t look like you want to adjust the antenna.
Yes, Blu-ray will be the standard of the future, but it’s not going to happen overnight. Cheshire Library currently purchases as many new releases in both formats (standard DVD and Blu-ray) as the budget will allow. No matter which type of disc player you have, you should be able to find plenty to check out at CPL!
Search our video collection here.