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High Definition DVD - Blu-Ray and HD-DVD

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This article is not website related, however it is technology related and current - plus helpful if you are into quality home theatre.

I guess most people have heard about Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players by now. I thought I'd add my two cents worth to the debate because... well, I can :)

Personally, if I hadn't already bought one of the new players, I would purchase Blu-Ray. There's really not much of a difference as far as quality goes.

UPDATE: 18.02.2008
It appears Toshiba will no longer continue development of HD-DVD players. What does this mean to you?

- If you have already bought a Blu-Ray player, you made the right choice. It also means more Blu-Ray DVD's will become available (for example, ones that were previously only available on the HD-DVD format).

- If you have not bought a high definition player yet, your choice is now made for you. You may, however, want to wait a while as prices will no doubt drop as more units are sold.

- If you have already bought a HD-DVD player...... sorry about that - it probably won't be much use in the near future.

So what IS the difference?

Sony Playstation 3 Blue-Ray is supported by many more movie studios - which means of course your choice of movies is greater. Only recently, a couple more studios who were going to support HD-DVD, changed to Blu-Ray.

There are also differences in the options for sound delivery between the two technologies, however that is not likely to affect the average user.

Another bonus is that Blu-Ray discs store more information - around 50 gig, as opposed to about 30 gig on HD-DVD. So when it comes to recording large amounts of data, for example that which will be required for upcoming game releases, as well as high definition movies, what would you rather have - 30 gig or 50 gig space to work with?

Note that unless you have a good quality TV and surround sound system, the advantages of either high definition players will be minimal. To make full use of the brilliant picture and sound quality, you need a high definition TV panel, and a late model home theatre amplifier or receiver. It is also noteworthy that most decent HT amps will do what is called "upscaling", which means you may feed in a lesser quality signal, and the unit "upscales" it. For example, a standard DVD player connected to  Hi-Def TV through a home theatre amp capable of upscaling will give a better picture quality. However, it still won't be as good as top quality equipment all the way through.

Don't discount cabling either. Good quality cable offers less resistance, and better picture and sound quality. Imagine a Bugatti Veyron Supercar. running on cheap $50.00 Taiwanese tyres? You simply wouldn't do it. Decent cabling may be a little expensive, but well worth the investment. Speaking of cabling, it is almost imperative you use a good quality power board for your expensive home theatre equipment. One that not only gives you extra "spike" protection, but one that uses a filter to get rid of the "dirty" power we usually have pumped into our homes. Often a good power board will come with it's own insurance as well. For example, I use the ETN "pod" power boards which have high quality filters, not only for power, but telephone, modem, TV signal and computer networks.

Anyway, back to the players, on the manufacturers side, HD-DVD players are cheaper to make, and are backed by a large corporation - Toshiba.

There is another big advantage, or perhaps bonus, to Blu-Ray: For around $600, you can purchase the very cool looking Sony Playstation 3 which comes not only with a gaming console, but it also has a good quality Blu-Ray DVD player built in. You have to look hard to find a Blu-Ray player by itself for that price - let alone getting a top notch gaming console as well!

If you want a Blu-Ray player for your computer, you can buy a Pioneer for only $230.00, and a combination Blu-Ray/HD-DVD for only $440.00, or if you want to use the huge storage capacity afforded by Blu-Ray discs, you buy a burner for between $550.00 and $760.00, and 50 gig discs cost around $70.00 each. However, if it's storage alone you are interested in, a 300 gig hard disk drive and a USB enclosure will only cost you less than $200.00.

You can read more technical mumbo jumbo about the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, but my opinion is go for Blu-Ray, and think about the Playstation alternative.

Please note: prices are not exact, but they are indicative as of February 2008.

If you need further information on Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, please visit this home theatre website.

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