For those out there who still boggle over what Blu-Ray actually means, this short little VS. battle will help clarify some of the main features of a Blu-Ray disc, compared side by side to the familiar DVD. Price, picture, sound, accessibility and future changes to technology will all be taken into account to give a fairly full picture of which disc trumps the other in which ways. The true winner is whichever one you decide to buy.
For those with a “classic DVD” collection, the thought of Blu-Ray may be as foreign as eating upside down. Why bother upgrading when I can let my classic DVD library augment my classic vinyl collection? I already have it, so why would I switch over to something new?
But for those sitting on the edge of their seats anticipating the best and brightest new gadgets to hit the market, a Blu-ray player is probably already a permanent fixture within the HDTV home entertainment system. Owning a Blu-Ray system doesn’t mean DVDs are dinosaurs, but it does mean that Blu-Ray will be able to do certain things DVDs cannot.
Let’s take a look at the differences:
DVD: A physical DVD now costs around $10 to $15 a pop, sometimes even less for “bargain” films (which are usually a bad idea in the first place, but oh so tempting at $6.99). DVD players are so common these days that any number of them will go for under $50.
Blu-Ray: Films on Blu-Ray typically cost about $10 more than its counterpart in DVD. So that’s more like $20 to $25 per movie, a significant increase. That’s a quarter of a Benjamin. And in order to play that sucker, you must have a Blu-Ray player, which costs around $250-$300, though they can go up into the thousands.
DVD: We all know what a DVD picture looks like. Pretty good, much better than VHS, right? No more fuzzy skipping or snow. The picture is fairly clear at 420p sharpness.
Blu-Ray: At 1080p, Blu-Ray picture is more than twice as sharp as DVD. The higher pixel number means that two and a half times more information is being shown on the screen, giving a sharper, cleaner, more detailed picture. As most films are being shot in High Definition digital, the higher quality appears much more obviously on the screen.
DVD: The DVD sound is as good as can be… for 1995. For typical singe television, the DVD sound is fine, matching the picture quality. No complaints.
Blu-Ray: With a home entertainment system, Blu-Ray discs provide stunning sound, most equipped with 7.1 channel surround sound. This means the Blu-Ray disc was built with the capability to distribute its sound through various different channels, i.e. the many speakers surrounding a home theater. The sound comes from all around, specifically the way the movie was made, mimicking true theaters.
DVD: Pretty much anything you want to watch comes on DVD. VHS? Not so much. Basically, every movie ever made has been converted from VHS or its original version to DVD. DVD is the standard for all movies, and you will be hard pressed to find a movie that does not have a DVD form. Plus, your movie collection is probably already in DVD form in the first place.
Blu-Ray: Simply put, there’s no guarantee that the movie you want will be made on Blu-Ray. Because Blu-Ray serves a smaller consumer base, only the really popular or in demand movies will be converted to Blu-Ray.
Ease of use
DVD: Most people are familiar with the way DVD players work. They’re not that different from the old VHS players, and they’ve been around so long that the technology is reliable. Play, pause, stop, skip ahead, skip backwards, eject. It’s easy, simple and the hook ups are usually straightforward.
Blu-Ray: Since Blu-Ray is a still-developing technology, there are sometimes kink in playback, skipping or longer load times. The newer technology means the first few generations are not as reliable as tried-and-true DVDs.
DVD: As most people know, DVDs offer many more features than the ancient VHS, such as scene selection, deleted scenes, director’s commentary, trailers etc. The main menu offers some extra goodies after the movie is over.
Blu-Ray: Blu-Ray goes a few steps further. On top of all the extra features that DVD offers, Blu-Ray allows the user to bookmark favorite scenes and access the menu without leaving the current scene. There is better capacity for special features like commentary, animated menus and pop-up tracks. Plus, BD-Live allows the user to access the Internet straight from the screen and even play video games associated with the film. The Blu-Ray system can act as a multi-purpose Internet and gaming console, and it is a great piece for a thoroughly constructed home entertainment system.
DVD: Typical DVDs hold between 5 and 10 GB of data, or enough for one film and extras. DVD players can play CDs and DVDs.
Blu-Ray: Blu-Ray discs are made with technology much newer than DVD, and as we know, things keep getting smaller, faster and full of more room for data. Dual layer Blu-Ray discs can generally hold about 50 GB of data, or 5-10 times as much as DVD. Blu-Ray discs are also smaller, easier on packing and less cumbersome. Furthermore, a Blu-Ray player can play all media types: CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray.
Outlook for the Future
DVD: DVDs have been around for a decade now, and they are still going strong. Most films come in DVD format, and it’s much easier to build up a DVD collection than trying to begin anew with Blu-Ray. As technology advances, media will either eventually move to a mostly digital format or there will be something even better to replace Blu-Ray. In that respect, it makes more sense to stick with the DVD system until the next widespread format takes over.
Blu-Ray: Blu-Ray is technologically superior to DVD, but what happens when movies become completely digital, or a new format hits the mainstream market? Blu-Ray may be a treat for the time being, but plainly put, it’s a niche market and probably will not become widespread. The majority of people will be looking back on today fondly remembering the days of DVD, not Blu-Ray. Once all media becomes digital, both DVD and Blu-Ray will be obsolete. So why not just stick with DVD until then? Blu-Ray may just be a minor stopping point before the next big wave.
Who will triumph in the battle between DVD and Blu-Ray?
DVD wins: 4
Blu-Ray wins: 4
Well, there you have it. Each media format comes with its pros and cons, evening out so that the real winner is the one that fits you best. DVD is more affordable, more reliable, has a greater selection and makes more sense to hang onto until the next technological revolution. Blu-Ray has picture and audio quality that is significantly superior to DVD, a greater selection of features and the capacity to store much more data on the disc. Hopefully this side-by-side comparison laid out some of the major advantages and disadvantages to each. Now it’s just up to you to pick your poison.