Blu-ray or no Blu-ray? please help me decide

Dear Forum members

I am planning to buy a home theater system and there are two types of these available in the market - those with a Blu-ray player and the others without. The price difference is substantial. The primary purpose of my home theater system will be to watch High Def movies. Given this fact, most people will think that a Blu-ray should be a must-buy, however, there are a few problems with this option:

Problems with the Blu-ray option:

1. Expensive Blu-ray player

2. I've already invested in a high speed broadband connection (4mbps) to download HD movies so I won't be buying Blu-ray discs (currently costing Rs. 1350/- each)

3. Even if I want to save the downloaded files to a Blu-ray Disc, I will need to buy a Blu-ray burner (which is also costly - Samsung internal Blu-ray burner currently available in the market for Rs. 15,000) and lots of BD-Rs (currently costing Rs. 1300/- each).

4. Discs are fast becoming obsolete as a storage medium and are being replaced by other high capacity media like passport drives and flash memory - will the investment in Blu-ray player pay off?

5. Why not connect my PC directly to the HT system and enjoy HD movies directly without the hassle of a Blu-ray player in between?

Things that go in favor of the Blu-ray option

1. Discs may not become obsolete after all

2. Its good to have movies kept in nicely labeled/decorated disc jackets stacked in a showcase

3. Blu-ray discs and burners will become cheap in future so its worthwhile to invest in a built-in Blu-ray player

4. Some HD movies or HD content may not be available for downloading (like all episodes of Coke Studio in HD) and you may have to buy a Blu-ray disc.

5. Attractive deals on Blu-ray movies (like all Star Trek movies in a Blu-ray bundle) may necessitate the purchase of a BD.

6. Your friend has all 100 episodes of Battlestar Galactica - but they're on a BD!

What do you say folks? I'll greatly appreciate your input.

technophile

Well, I guess you can't make up your mind cause absolution costs a lot.

Let me conclude from within you options.... but this is just my opinion.

Problems with the Blu-ray option:

1. Expensive Blu-ray player

--TRUE even after 4 years.

2. I've already invested in a high speed broadband connection (4mbps) to download HD movies so I won't be buying Blu-ray discs (currently costing Rs. 1350/- each)

--WISE

3. Even if I want to save the downloaded files to a Blu-ray Disc, I will need to buy a Blu-ray burner (which is also costly - Samsung internal Blu-ray burner currently available in the market for Rs. 15,000) and lots of BD-Rs (currently costing Rs. 1300/- each).

--TRUE and that saved file will still not comparable to an original company pressed BD.

4. Discs are fast becoming obsolete as a storage medium and are being replaced by other high capacity media like passport drives and flash memory - will the investment in Blu-ray player pay off?

--Not really cause BD players are for playing BD discs not for storing the data.

5. Why not connect my PC directly to the HT system and enjoy HD movies directly without the hassle of a Blu-ray player in between?

--That's the way it should be if your aware of PC potential

Things that go in favor of the Blu-ray option

1. Discs may not become obsolete after all

--Its not a matter of 'if', its just a matter of 'when'...... they become obsolete

2. Its good to have movies kept in nicely labeled/decorated disc jackets stacked in a showcase

--Thats what I thought when I collected DVD boxset of various TV shows and now I know they are available on BD discs and even in better resolution/picture quality too. Now even a downloaded BD ripped show on my PC looks way more awesome as compared to my very same 'collected' DVD boxset. so what if I start collecting them on BDs and newer, more superior format supersedes blu-ray? Do I have go through all of that buying that new expensive format and its player too just because I want to collect when I probably won't see my favorite stuff twice.

3. Blu-ray discs and burners will become cheap in future so its worthwhile to invest in a built-in Blu-ray player

== It will get cheap but will still stay at certain level which will still be expensive considering original copies from company like audio CDs

4. Some HD movies or HD content may not be available for downloading (like all episodes of Coke Studio in HD) and you may have to buy a Blu-ray disc.

== True

5. Attractive deals on Blu-ray movies (like all Star Trek movies in a Blu-ray bundle) may necessitate the purchase of a BD.

== Ture

6. Your friend has all 100 episodes of Battlestar Galactica - but they're on a BD!

== If you have to borrow those BDs from friend, why don't ask him/her to lend you his/her BD player as well? besides lots and lots of old content is being converted to bly-rays, you might come across a 1080p or 720p rip of that show eventually. and the thing will matter at that time will be the internet connection you have to download that GBs worth of data faster, a large HDD space and a PC able to play that stuff smoothly.

So if you just stop thinking about making your self a collector, it will become really easy to what you should do.

Technophile,

It depends on what sort of 'quality' you are looking for when watching movies. Don't forget that true BR movies (and I don't mean the fake Rs 1300 ones) are able to output at 1080p. The mkv x264 rips are excellent for downloading, but mkv files do not usually provide lossless audio. For the most part, 720p are excellent rips and they are easier to download but on bigger screens such as DLP projection etc, 720p just does not cut it.

Obviously, price is also a factor. Downloads are virtually free while original discs cost a lot. Once a title is released in the US and if you give it about 6 months or so though, the price drops quite a bit and you can cash in on some great bundles, that quite frankly your download will never give you. I got the Lord of the Rings BR set earlier this year and on 1080p 17 MB Bitrate encoding it just blows my mind away. Kicking myself for buying it too early though as the Extended cut is now out - download is at 77 GB and its something that I just don't want to do.

You could also just invest in a PS3 and bide your time for now...

Bhai there is no point of buying Blu ray player in Pakistan. Discs and players both are expensive and rare. I suggest you forget about it and go with the normal stuff. Download and watch movies on your HT.

@Faisal

Thank you so very much for your detailed and informative response. You are right about harnessing the power of the PC and the Internet. However, I feel that the collector and entertainer in me will always want to store movies for repeat viewing with friends and family.

You are right that the way technology is changing, a newer format than Blu-ray may be round the corner, but you see, Blu-ray is not a format in itself, its just a way of storing more data on a disc, which has enabled movie companies to release 1080p full HD versions of their films on Discs. So even if there comes a higher capacity format than Blu-ray, the value of a 1080p full HD movie will always remain the same – that is – on a 40” screen of your home theater, you wouldn’t want to play anything higher than 1080p.

@hashimk

Thank you for your valuable input. As far as quality is concerned, I’m a perfectionist. And especially when you invest a large amount in buying a home theater, you wouldn’t want to settle for anything less than the best. You are right that most downloadable content is compressed into lossy formats but if you know where to look for, you can find the real thing, though of course you’ll have to be patient with the Internet.

What I understand from your post is that NOTHING matches the quality of an original BD release – that is the original US$20 BD. How is that possible? Don’t you think that a full copy of the same thing on a BD-R will give the same result?

@Keanu

Thank you for your advice. You are right that Blu-ray is an expensive option, but the temptation is hard to resist – especially for a movie buff in search of quality.

technophile

Full copy of the disc will be the same, but yes you need to be patient with the internet as you have said yourself. The thing is though, from a collector standpoint, there will always be titles/boxed sets (Star Trek/Star Wars!!) that downloading will just NEVER equate to. It's a bizarre itch, but if you can afford it, I would certainly recommend investing in the technology.

[quote=“technophile, post:5, topic:15513”]

@Faisal

Thank you so very much for your detailed and informative response. You are right about harnessing the power of the PC and the Internet. However, I feel that the collector and entertainer in me will always want to store movies for repeat viewing with friends and family.

You are right that the way technology is changing, a newer format than Blu-ray may be round the corner, but you see, Blu-ray is not a format in itself, its just a way of storing more data on a disc, which has enabled movie companies to release 1080p full HD versions of their films on Discs. So even if there comes a higher capacity format than Blu-ray, the value of a 1080p full HD movie will always remain the same – that is – on a 40” screen of your home theater, you wouldn’t want to play anything higher than 1080p.

[/quote]

Yes I know BDs are just a storage medium, by using term format, what I meant was having a standalone BD player may not be able to handle a newer storage medium. just like a DVD player can’t play DBs right?

So All you need is good PC. if you want to be a collector go ahead you can do that with your PC as well + you will also be able to store lots and lots of content on PC as well. if you want to buy BDs, go ahead. Just add a BD drive or better a BD burner drive to your PC. when a newer storage medium arrives, just add its relative drive or burner to your PC.

With a PC set up, you will keep in touch with past, the present and the future from your audio CDs to VCDs to DVDs to blu-rays/HD-DVDs to whatever stuff you download from the internet and whatever comes next…

Technophile,

In my opinion, buy a new Core i7, i5 quadcore PC. With it, buy HD widescreen monitor or HDTV, 3D card (Nvidia GTX Series), 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system. Then either download bluray ripped HD movies (in mkv, mp4 or avi format) or download whole bluray discs and use PowerDVD (a universal DVD/bluray/HD player software that can play all kinds of formats) or some other good software and forget about buying expensive bluray discs which are rarely available in Pakistan.

Moreover, you said that disc are getting obsolete due to alternate storing mediums like portable hard drives and etc. No, it is not. Actually, here in Pakistan, due to inflation, the trend of buying discs is going down. On the other hand, the rise of cheap internet and easy available media over it has also altered the minds of people and they prefer to download their needs. But in foreign developed countries, people prefer to buy genuine discs, so its trend is not down worldwide.

Why not just download HD quality movies from the internet. Load them in a USB flash or Hard Drive and then play them on your LCD TV? I find this is the easiest and most cost effective option. True, you can save time by just buying a Blu Ray disc from a shop, however i think its a waste of money and waste of space at home when you have to keep all those discs at some place.

Thank you everyone for your precious advices. The discussion has been very helpful for me in making up my mind. I guess the best option for me is to use my PC with the Home Theater and buy an internal Blu-ray burner (as very appropriately suggested by Faisal) to play Blu-ray discs and also for storing large downloaded files.

@Blogger

Why do you suggest an upgrade to Core i5 or Core i7? That is a very costly option again. Though I do plan to upgrade my old Dual Core PC, but why not to Core i3? I have a Core i3 based system at my workplace and it plays 1080p media quite smoothly on a 19” LCD monitor. Do you really think that playing media on a 40” LCD screen through a Corei3 based system will be a problem? And why a 3D card necessary? I will much appreciate your guidance on this.

@rnathbatra

Playing movie directly from a USB flash drive is also a good idea, if your LCD TV supports the format, but what about the amplifier and surround sound then? I think most new home theater systems available in the market also allow USB input and can play popular formats. So the best thing would be to insert the USB drive into the media player. Thank you for your advice anyways.

technophile

You can go for Core i3. Sorry for not mentioning it. 3D card is an important machine that adds quality, smoothing, and much more to the video quality. Without it, you can not play high resolution heavy games, and without it, you can not have the true touch of bluray HD. High resolution HD videos are best played only if there is a 3D card installed in the system.

[quote=“blogger, post:11, topic:15513”]

3D card is an important machine that adds quality, smoothing, and much more to the video quality. Without it, you can not play high resolution heavy games, and without it, you can not have the true touch of bluray HD. High resolution HD videos are best played only if there is a 3D card installed in the system.

[/quote]

Which 3D card will you recommend?

Depending on your budget, any 128/256 bit Nvidia GT 210 or later model with 1 GB memory. I will recommend EVGA branded Nvidia cards. They are reliable. Check the prices here: http://galaxy.pk/nvidia-graphic.htm

I don't think that your home theater system will be able to play ALL the file formats that you download from the net. On the internet, the movies are in various formats like AVI, DIVX, MPG, Real Media, MKV and even MP4 & FLV (if you download from youtube e.g from http://www.youtube.com/movies). For example, my home theatre doesn't accept the following file formats: MKV, FLV, MP4 and some formats of AVI and MPG. So, I have to convert them to suitable format from my PC before watching on TV.

You can get this device:

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=330

It's available for Rs.10K-12K in Pakistan. You can also get a similar device by Asus (with a few less features) for around Rs.6K. This device will play almost all the file formats that you download from the internet and yes, it supports 1080p. Just connect a portable hard drive to this device and this device to your TV through HDMI cable. This device also supports networking. It means, you can store the movies/songs on your PC or any network storage device and connect to it through its ethernet port. Check its review too:

[quote=“ArsalanJ, post:14, topic:15513”]

I don’t think that your home theater system will be able to play ALL the file formats that you download from the net. On the internet, the movies are in various formats like AVI, DIVX, MPG, Real Media, MKV and even MP4 & FLV (if you download from youtube e.g from http://www.youtube.com/movies). For example, my home theatre doesn’t accept the following file formats: MKV, FLV, MP4 and some formats of AVI and MPG. So, I have to convert them to suitable format from my PC before watching on TV.

You can get this device:

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=330

It’s available for Rs.10K-12K in Pakistan. You can also get a similar device by Asus (with a few less features) for around Rs.6K. This device will play almost all the file formats that you download from the internet and yes, it supports 1080p. Just connect a portable hard drive to this device and this device to your TV through HDMI cable. This device also supports networking. It means, you can store the movies/songs on your PC or any network storage device and connect to it through its ethernet port. Check its review too.

[/quote]

Excellent option! Thank you for suggesting.