Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thinking Blu-ray? Get the benefits right here!


Explore the benefits of Blu-ray Disc™ technology and the devices that deliver stunning, high definition (HD) content at its best.

The Benefits of Blu-ray Disc™ Technology
Chances are, you've heard of Blu-ray Disc™ technology. You've probably seen ads for movies being available "on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc media" or come across the sleek blue cases on display beside regular DVDs. But what is Blu-ray Disc technology, exactly?
This article explores the benefits of Blu-ray Disc technology, the various devices that support this amazing new format, and the components you'll need to experience the stunning quality of Blu-ray Disc technology at its finest.

Stunning High Definition Picture
Blu-ray Disc technology derives its name from the short-wavelength blue laser employed by Blu-ray Disc players. Compared with the red laser used by CD and DVD players, this new blue laser produces a much narrower beam capable of reading significantly smaller pieces of data. This allows Blu-ray Disc media to pack a lot more data into the same amount of space compared to DVDs. In fact, Blu-ray Disc media features five times the storage capacity of traditional, single-layer DVDs.

This massive storage capacity, combined with a wide bandwidth capable of sending data at speeds of up to 54 Mbps (megabytes per second), which is six times that of DVD (8 Mbps) and roughly two times that of a normal HDTV broadcast (approximately 25-27 Mbps), allows Blu-ray Disc media to store and display video in stunning, full HD 1080p resolution.
Lets You Play Your Existing DVDs

Blu-ray Disc players are backward compatible with current DVDs, ensuring you'll be able to enjoy your existing DVD library for years to come.
Even better, some - Blu-ray Disc players have the ability to "upscale" standard DVD content to match the resolution capabilities of your HDTV, making even your old DVDs look better.

A New Level of Interactivity
Blu-ray Disc media goes beyond the feature film and limited menu options to deliver a new degree of interactivity with on-disc content. With Blu-ray Disc technology, you can browse more specialized disc menus, select special features, listen to director commentary, switch language settings, and more -- all without having to stop the main program.

Some Blu-ray Disc players also support the Bonus View feature, which can display director or actor commentary or behind-the-scenes footage in a picture-in-picture window while the movie plays.

In addition, many of the latest Blu-ray Disc players support BD-Live™3. This Blu-ray Disc player exclusive feature lets you access additional content right from Blu-ray Disc player (Internet connection required). With BD-Live, you can watch exclusive special features or bonus scenes, take part in live events with actors and directors, play movie-based games, record your own movie commentary to share with others, and download ringtones, trailers and wallpapers, and much more.

Superior High Definition Audio
Blu-ray Disc technology also brings your movies, music, and games to life with up to 7.1 channels of HD surround sound. What constitutes HD audio, exactly? HD video can be measured in pixel resolution. For example, a full HD 1080p image measures 1920 x 1080 pixels and contains six times the picture information of DVD video (640 x 480 pixels). HD audio is not measured by resolution, but rather by bitrate. Without getting too technical, the bitrate refers to how many bits of information can be transmitted in a single second. One easy way to picture this is to consider your Internet connection. Old dial-up modems connected to the Internet at a bitrate of up to 56.6 Kbps (kilobits per second).

Today's broadband modems connect at much higher bitrates that stretch into the megabits per second. In Internet terms, a higher bitrate translates into faster performance. In the world of audio, a higher bitrate allows more audio information to reach your speakers.
How much more information? Let's look at the bitrates. Dolby® Digital 5.1 technology, the dominant surround sound format on DVD, features a maximum bitrate of 448 kbps (or 640 kbps on Blu-ray Disc media). By comparison, Dolby Digital technology's HD successor, Dolby TrueHD technology, has a maximum bitrate of 18 Mbps, thereby delivering roughly 40 times the sound information of Dolby Digital 5.1 technology.
These higher bitrates enable certain HD audio formats, such as LPCM (linear pulse code modulation) uncompressed audio, Dolby TrueHD technology, and DTS-HD Master Audio™ technology, to deliver "lossless" surround sound. This lossless audio offers a bit-for-bit audio re-creation that's identical to the master studio recording, and allows you to hear a movie exactly as the director intended.

In all, Blu-ray Disc technology supports seven surround formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 technology and DTS 5.1 technology are competing surround sound formats that carry over from DVD. Both are lossy compression formats that eliminate sound information outside the range of human hearing to save space. Dolby Digital 5.1 technology has a maximum bitrate of 640 kbps on Blu-ray Disc media. DTS 5.1 technology extends up to around 1.5 Mbps.
• Dolby Digital Plus technology and DTS-HD High ResolutionAudio technology occupy the next tier of audio quality. Both support up to 7.1 channels of surround sound and, although they remain lossy compression formats, both allow for higher maximum bitrates. Dolby Digital Plus technology features a maximum bitrate of 4.7 Mbps on Blu-ray, whereas DTS-HD High Resolution Audio technology delivers up to 6.0 Mbps.
• Dolby TrueHD technology and DTS-HD Master Audio technology are both 7.1-channel lossless compression formats that yield audio that is a bit-for-bit re-creation of the studio master. The bitrates on these two formats far outstrip those already mentioned, at 18 Mbps and a staggering 24.5 Mbps, respectively.
• Linear PCM audio features no digital compression whatsoever. Although this lends Linear PCM tracks uncompromised sound quality, it also takes up a lot of disc space.

You can determine which audio formats a Blu-ray Disc movie offers by referring to the back of the case. In most instances, audio, video, and subtitle specifications are listed in a grid in the upper-left corner.

Stop in and see us for any Blu-ray questions you might have! The SmartHome team is ready to assist you!

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