I am a major proponent of the movement toward high definition personal electronics, more specifically those which you can see and hear. I purchased a 42″ 1080p Plasma TV back in December 2007, and I have been incrementally upgrading from there. I purchased the next gen video gaming console, Xbox 360. I upgraded my cable DVR to the model with HDMI out. Most recently, one year ago, I purchased a blu ray player and 5.1 surround sound system. In my opinion, this has been the biggest gain in audio/visual experience since my parents got me a color TV in the late 80’s.
A lot of people argue that the improvement in picture from DVD to Blu Ray is relatively insignificant. These people are not totally wrong. Back in the late 90s, when DVD was proving it’s strength over VHS for personal media distribution, the difference was night and day. Nowadays, if you were to place a DVD into an upconverting player (such as a Blu Ray player), and compare it with the image from a Blu Ray disc, the difference in picture quality is very subtle, and can almost sometimes be indistinguishable depending on TV model. That being said, I myself love a good Blu Ray 1080p image, and can tell almost 100% of the time when people are trying to trick me.
The biggest difference, in my opinion, between DVD and Blu Ray technology is the ability to store higher fidelity sound on the higher capacity of the Blu Ray disc. Again, if you do not have a surround sound system, this difference will be trivial, but being that I do have a surround sound system, watching Terminator 2, for example, becomes a completely different experience when watching the Blu Ray disc. The Blu Ray verson of T2 that I own touts “Uncompressed Audio Tracks.” That might seem like a big term that means nothing to the consumer, but, believe it or not, this is huge. What this is telling you is that you are getting a disc that contains the audio as mastered in the studio. Many times, even what you hear in the theater needs to be compressed for the sake of storage capacity. Upon compressing the audio, much of the dynamics in the sound gets lost. Seeing this on a box cover should tell you that the audio experience you are in for may even be better than the movie theater experience. The way this manifests itself in a practical sense, is that you get to hear all of the dynamics (highs, lows, louds, softs, etc) as intended by the creative team. It makes for an awesomely submersive experience.
So if you would ask me whether I would recommend going toward Blu Ray, I would ask two questions: (1) do you own an HD TV, and (2) do you own a surround sound system with receiver? If the answer to both is yes, I would hit you on the head for asking me a stupid question. If your answer to either is no, you need to upgrade immediately, and also upgrade to Blu Ray. Prices of Blu Ray media have come down so far that it’s just as affordable as DVD was 3 years ago. In fact, in a few cases, I’ve seen the price of Blu Ray new releases be lower than DVD counterparts on Amazon.com. (Ohh yea, and you need an amazon prime membership too, free 2 day shipping, lowest prices on new releases, and money back incentives on video game purchases). So go hook yourself up with a home theater. It’s well worth the money.
[and I highly recommend purchasing a Logitech Harmony Remote Control. You program everything on your computer and sync the remote via USB. Consolidates all of your remotes and can even control things you had no idea you had control over…]