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Quick guide to Blu-ray

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Old 01-14-2009, 08:52 PM   #1
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Arrow Quick guide to Blu-ray

Ran across this site and noticed it had some rather educational information pertaining to Blu-ray. IMO, this makes for a good read for newbies and some of us as a refresher course.

Hope this helps someone to understand Blu-ray and benefit them in a BD player purchase.

This article is rather lenghty so I'm only posting a snip of the article.

*Snip*
Quote:
What's better about Blu-ray?
Image quality: Superior resolution is a big part of what makes Blu-ray look great. In layman's terms, this means you'll see a more detailed image: more clearly defined strands of hair, wrinkles in clothing, etc. The technical difference is that Blu-ray's maximum resolution is 1,920x1,080 (1080p), while DVD is limited to 720x480 (480p). Beyond resolution, Blu-ray also uses better video-compression methods, resulting in more contrast and richer colors. If you like the way HD from your cable or satellite provider looks, Blu-ray looks even better. It's the highest-quality video format available today, and in some ways it surpasses the picture quality of your local movie theater, especially when shown on a good-performing HDTV or projector.

Audio quality: Audio quality is also improved. New high-resolution soundtrack formats, such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, are essentially identical to the studio master, so you'll be hearing things exactly as the director and audio engineers intended. For more information check out the Blu-ray soundtracks section.

Special features: Blu-ray also has additional special features over DVD. The most basic innovation is the pop-up menu, which allows you to access the menu functions while the movie continues playing. Other innovations include picture-in-picture video commentary and the ability to download new content right from your Blu-ray player, although your player needs to have the right Blu-ray profile to access these features. In our opinion, the special features on Blu-ray have mostly been underwhelming and aren't a good reason to upgrade. For more information on special features, check out our detailed discussion of Blu-ray profiles.

What's worse about Blu-ray?
Cost: Blu-ray's main drawback is cost. Prices for players are still generally over $200 and movies cost about $25. While the one-time cost of a player isn't that bad, the cost of building up a new Blu-ray library really adds up. At least it's possible to pick and choose which movies you "buy Blu," since every Blu-ray player can also play standard DVDs.

Available titles: Another downside is that the number of titles on Blu-ray is still much smaller than DVD. There are currently about 970 Blu-ray titles available, compared with more than 90,000 (!) on DVD. Depending on your taste in movies, you may only find a few movies you actually like available on Blu-ray.

Load times: When Blu-ray first came out, load times were unbearable; it could take more than 3 minutes to load a movie. Since then, players have gotten much faster, but they still don't compare with the speed of loading a DVD. While simple Blu-ray movies can load in about 20 seconds on a good Blu-ray player, movies with complex menus still take close to a minute and a half to get to the actual movie, regardless of the player.

Portability: Lastly, if you start buying Blu-ray movies, you may get frustrated that your new movies won't work in places where you only have a standard DVD player. For example, if your bedroom only has a DVD player, you won't be able to watch the second half of your new Blu-ray Disc from the comfort of your bed. Or if you have a car with a built-in DVD player, your new Blu-ray Discs won't work there, either.

What about upconverting DVD players?
You've probably heard about upconverting (also called upscaling) DVD players. Often they'll promise to take your existing DVD collection and make it look like HD. Sounds like a great idea, but unfortunately, it's not quite true. We've discussed this issue at length before, but the main takeaway is that while it is possible for an upconverting DVD player to make your existing DVDs look a little better, they won't look like true high-definition. If you want HD video quality, you need Blu-ray.

What about my existing DVD collection?
When the home video format of choice changed from VHS to DVD, it was a rough change for consumers whose existing tape collection was slowly rendered obsolete. Luckily, that's not the case with this transition, as every Blu-ray player is capable of playing back standard DVDs. In fact, every Blu-ray player is also an upconverting DVD player, but remember the benefits from upconversion are still minimal. The bottom line is that all your existing DVDs will play in your new Blu-ray player.

Aren't disc-based movies outdated already? Shouldn't I just download or stream HD movies from Apple TV, Vudu, PS3, Netflix, or Xbox 360?
There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages to Internet-based movie rental services--which are beyond the scope of this guide--but in most cases, Blu-ray's biggest trump card is that it offers superior quality and the movies aren't locked to a specific device. There are exceptions, though, such as Vudu's new HDX download options, which even the videophiles at CNET admit is pretty darn good on the video-quality front. Check out our full coverage of these devices if you're more interested in being able to watch movies on a whim.
Quote:
Dolby Digital Plus: Like standard Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus uses lossy compression to shrink the size of the audio information. However, it outdoes standard Dolby Digital by supporting a higher bit rate (6.144Mbps vs. 40Kbps) and more channels (7.1 vs. 5.1).

Dolby TrueHD: The major innovation of Dolby TrueHD is that is uses lossless compression. That means it's still able to compress the raw information to a smaller file size, but it does so without throwing away any information. It offers both a higher bit rate and sample rate than Dolby Digital Plus, to produce overall audio quality that's theoretically identical to the studio master. That also means it should sound identical to a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, which also uses lossless compression.

DTS-HD High Resolution: DTS-HD High Resolution is the step-up over standard DTS, and also uses lossy compression to shrink the size of the audio information. It outdoes standard DTS by supporting a higher bit rate (6Mbps vs. 1.5Mpbs), higher sample rate (96Khz vs. 48Khz), and more channels (7.1 vs. 5.1).

DTS-HD Master Audio: Like Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio uses lossless compression. It offers a higher bit rate than DTS-HD High Resolution, for overall audio quality that's, again, theoretically identical to the studio master. It should sound identical to a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack.

Linear PCM (LPCM): Linear PCM forms the foundation of all of these soundtrack formats. It's like the language all your home theater digital audio components speak. No matter what soundtrack format is used, it's eventually converted to linear PCM so your AV receiver can play it back. Some Blu-ray movies actually include soundtracks in linear PCM mode, which has some advantages--it's high quality and compatible with every Blu-ray player on the market. The downside is that LPCM takes up a lot of space on the disc, which is why most disc makers opt to use either a Dolby or DTS soundtrack format.

Link: http://reviews.cnet.com/blu-ray-guide/?tag=mncol;txt
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:33 PM   #2
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Thanks, Bravestime. Very nice article.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:36 PM   #3
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Thanks, Bravestime. Very nice article.
NP. Hope it helps in same way. I thought the audio breakdown I posted was pretty informative.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:39 PM   #4
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NP. Hope it helps in same way. I thought the audio breakdown I posted was pretty informative.
Are there any titles or players that have/support DD+?
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:47 PM   #5
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Are there any titles or players that have/support DD+?
I just did a check at the site below and found no movies with DD+.

http://www.blu-raystats.com/Stats/Stats.php
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:50 PM   #6
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Are there any titles or players that have/support DD+?
Now far as players supporting DD+, they all do. (DD, DD+ and DTS)
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:58 PM   #7
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DD+ is not a mandatory codec within the Blu-Ray spec so I doubt you will ever see it supported as, I don't believe, the majority of SAL players support the codec. Fine with me. I would rather we just have TrueHD, DTS-HD-MA, or PCM. I have noticed that several recent Universal DTS-HD-MA have really been stellar.
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Old 01-15-2009, 02:11 AM   #8
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DD+ is not a mandatory codec within the Blu-Ray spec so I doubt you will ever see it supported as, I don't believe, the majority of SAL players support the codec. Fine with me. I would rather we just have TrueHD, DTS-HD-MA, or PCM. I have noticed that several recent Universal DTS-HD-MA have really been stellar.
Nice. Should be virtually indistinguishable from the 1.5 mbps DD+ tracks though, unless you're an audiophile with expensive equipment. DD+ 640 kbps from Warner really sucked though, but then Peter Bracke couldn't tell the diff between the HD DVD 1.5 mpbs and the BD 640 kbps on Dreamgirls. For some people, even DD+ 1.5 mbps is overkill.
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Old 01-15-2009, 10:18 AM   #9
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Nice. Should be virtually indistinguishable from the 1.5 mbps DD+ tracks though, unless you're an audiophile with expensive equipment. DD+ 640 kbps from Warner really sucked though, but then Peter Bracke couldn't tell the diff between the HD DVD 1.5 mpbs and the BD 640 kbps on Dreamgirls. For some people, even DD+ 1.5 mbps is overkill.
While I doubt most people could tell the difference between a high bitrate DD+ and a lossless track but I would still prefer lossless to lossy.

Why do you say DD 640 "sucks"? According to Dolby themselves the biggest leap in audio quality is from 448 to 640. Above that you are only getting marginal gains (even in the case of DD+ at 1.5mbps).
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Old 01-15-2009, 04:57 PM   #10
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While I doubt most people could tell the difference between a high bitrate DD+ and a lossless track but I would still prefer lossless to lossy.

Why do you say DD 640 "sucks"? According to Dolby themselves the biggest leap in audio quality is from 448 to 640. Above that you are only getting marginal gains (even in the case of DD+ at 1.5mbps).
There's a much bigger difference between DD+ 640 and DD+ 1500 then there is between DD+ 1500 (or DTS-HD 1500) and lossless. That is because it's much easier for the average person with decent equipment to hear the difference. If I can't hear the difference between DD+ 1500 and lossless, then it may as well be lossless, it's as good as it's going to sound.

And while you brought up Universal recent releases, I might add a remark about DNR that the guide didn't mention. A lot of recent releases have been heavy on the DNR, resulting in less grain and also, as a result, less detail. Several Universal rereleases of the HD DVD are less detailed due to more DNR.

Last edited by bruceames; 01-15-2009 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:21 AM   #11
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There's a much bigger difference between DD+ 640 and DD+ 1500 then there is between DD+ 1500 (or DTS-HD 1500) and lossless. That is because it's much easier for the average person with decent equipment to hear the difference. If I can't hear the difference between DD+ 1500 and lossless, then it may as well be lossless, it's as good as it's going to sound.
What specific titles have you heard where there was a big difference between DD+ 640 and DD+ 1500? The most important factor is the mix. If the audio mix is poor it won't matter what bitrate you throw at it.

Quote:
And while you brought up Universal recent releases, I might add a remark about DNR that the guide didn't mention. A lot of recent releases have been heavy on the DNR, resulting in less grain and also, as a result, less detail. Several Universal rereleases of the HD DVD are less detailed due to more DNR.
I don't know about "heavy" on the DNR. I have seen some slight DNR used, but I do agree. No need to use DNR unless it is a must. I hope that this trend stops in Hollywood, but the flip side is that people also complain about grain. They associate grain with noise and I suspect people get accustomed to how "HD" looks on cable/sat. Obviously the studios cannot please everybody. But for my own sake I wish they would stop using DNR when it is not necessary.

And this obviously has nothing to do with the format, but it is a studio decision.
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