Thursday, February 21, 2008

Email about movie quality.

I get an email form my brother: "What’s the difference between Blu-Ray, HD DVD, and DVD?"

My response: "
In short: Blue Ray uses a blue laser instead of a red one. Blue has a thinner laser. This makes it possible to cram more data on the disc. It's the difference between sewing with a Backhoe (DVD) and a Sewing Needle (Bue Ray).

Blue Ray and HD DVD were basically the same thing...just from different vendors. Toshiba and Microsoft wanted to dominate with HD DVD. The movie distributors went with Blue Ray instead. Don't know why. Don't care."

Ryan's response: "The DVDs you burn at home on your PC have a 4.7GB capacity.

Commercial (Hollywood) DVD discs have an 8.5 (or so) GB (gigabyte) capacity. That is equivelant to roughly 12 CDs and is enough to hold a few hours of full resolution video and audio. These are the standard movie DVDs you have been able to buy since 1999.

About a year or so ago, two competing technologies came out that are the same physical size as DVDs, but have much higher capacity and quality. They are HD-DVD and Blue-Ray DVD

HD DVDs hold 15GB of data, twice as much as commercial DVDs. This means either the video quality can be twice as good, or you can store twice as much (both Evil Dead's on one disc). They use these for HD (high definition) Video playout, taking advantage of the higher disc capacity to store much higher quality video (1080 lines of resolution instead of the standard 720).

Blu-Ray DVD stores 25GB of data, that's twice as much as HD and 4 times as much as standard DVD. So you can store HD quality video but a lot more of it ... two movies, in HD, on one disc - for instance. They aren't likely to put multiple movies on one disc as that eats into the bottom line - but it could be done.

To give an idea of how much data we're talking, a standard hard drive on a new computer is between 80GB-120GB ... so 5 Blu-Ray DVDs could hold the contents of an entire modern high-end hard drive filled to capacity.

A big battle has been fought between Blu-Ray and HD to see who would come out as the new 'standard' in HD DVDs. You can't really have both, because then you have some movies released in only HD, others in Blu, and to play both you have to buy an HD and a Blu-Ray DVD player to the tune of $200+ each. The film industry liked HD-DVD better because they are easier to produce. Consumers liked Blu-Ray better because we get more bang for the buck. Just yesterday Toshiba announced they were canceling their HD-DVD line, meaning all High-Def DVDs in the future will be Blu-Ray as opposed to HD-DVD. Blu-Ray was pioneered by Sony. So since you're just now getting on the band wagon - that's a good thing! That means you won't buy an obsolete HD DVD player :) Go with Blu-Ray! That's what we did this last Christmas. The consumers win! More cool stuff to go into debt for. God bless America.

Now - your player. Did you buy it in the past year? Did it cost more than $200ish? If you answer 'no' to either of these questions, then you likely can only play the older standard DVD. At current day you have to buy a special Blu-Ray player in order to play Blu-Ray discs. Same things with HD discs. There are a few exceptions to this. Some newer laptops can play HD-DVDs, XBox 260's can play HD-DVDs and Playstation 3's can play Blu-Ray DVDs out to your TV.

If you want to be sure about your samsung, just look on the front where all the little icons are that show what it can do (you'll see 'Compact Disc' and 'DVD' - do you see Blu or HD?)

The last piece is what you play it out on. A Blu-Ray DVD played on your grandpa's 1980 'Colorvision' TV won't look any better than a standard DVD ... or VHS. Played on a newer TV, a Blu-Ray will look slightly better than a standard DVD (it will make full use of whatever a TV can offer). But the real difference is made if you have an HD Television (usually plasma or LCD). That can take full advantage of the Blu-Ray quality."

Just wanted to help inform those of you who are confused :D