Blu-Ray

Since I had some gift cards burning a hole in my pocket for Best Buy I ended up browsing three Best Buy stores until I settled on something.

I ended up getting a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-Ray player.  Since the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD format wars had ended I had been wanting one, but it was still rather pricey last time I checked.  Low end players cost about half as much as they did last year. They had an insignia one for $199 but it really looked like a piece of crap.

So we selected the Samsung one which was $50 dollars more knowing that we could always return it.  I was not stupid enough to buy a HDMI cable for it at Best Buy because that is for suckers.  A digital cable is a digital cable and will either work or not work. No reason to buy fancy Monster cables or other high priced brands.  It’s only a cable.  I would suggest Monoprice.com for low priced HDMI cables.  Regardless you want an HDMI cable since component video cables that come with it will not display full resolution to the TV because of copy protection concerns (I so hate DRM which only punishes the consumer).

We bought one Blu-Ray movie Hellboy II to test it out with.  Movie manufactures are wondering why Blu-Ray isn’t catching on all that fast.  Well they might want to take a look at 25 to 29 dollar movie prices.  This is the old trick media companies always pull on us.  When they went from record to cassette they increased prices. When they went from cassette to CD they increased prices even though manufacturing prices went down. Now they are doing the same thing with Blu-Ray.  If you want a faster adoption rate make them the same price as regular DVDs.  Yeah the resolution is much better, but that just means that they were selling us movies before that were at a lower resolution.

So we decided to get a NetFlicks account since they have Blu-Ray movies and this will be a much cheaper way to watch Blu-Ray movies.  The next model up for the Samsung Blu-Ray player included the ability to stream movies from NetFlicks built in, but at a hundred dollars more for that model I am more likely to stream them to my computer instead.

Hellboy II was a good movie to test out Blu-Ray. Quite stunning visually and actually a pretty good movie and a step up from the first one.  The resolution is excellent and the picture is so much sharper and clearer and without the normal soft blur that we get use to.  Really is quite worthwhile over regular DVD.

Most Blu-Ray players have upconverters that will play regular DVDs at at higher resolution and I certainly wanted a player with this feature.  I was quite pleased with how it displayed a regular DVD and it is a significant improvement.  Though you can’t compare it to Blu-Ray since the software is making guesses to upconvert and so it is nowhere as crisp, but still a major improvement.

As a geek I love the fact that more and more consumer electronics allow a firmware upgrade.  This is especially important with Blu-Ray devices.  I was able to easily download the latest version of the firmware and install it via a USB thumbdrive by inserting it into the USB connector in the back.  There is also an ethernet port to do upgrades and enable some of the advanced Blu-Ray features.

So far I am quite pleased with the Blu-Ray player and having some gift cards was a good incentive to make the plunge.  Though one annoying thing is that while my TV has an HDMI port it only has one and it is being used by my satellite receiver.  Maybe one day I will buy an HDMI switcher, but I found it just as easy to unplug the HDMI cable from one unit and then plug it into the other along with the optical cable used for the sound system.  A bit of an annoyance, but for weekend movie watchers not that big of a deal.

So if you are a movie lover and have an HDTV it is a pretty good time to take the plunge with Blu-Ray.  Though of course players will get cheaper over time, but good players are no longer at only a premium price.