I started experiencing Blu-ray discs (BD) movies early this year when I bought my first Philips BD player. In general, playing a BD is not as speedy as DVD, because its huge amount of data requires more time to load into the player before it can be played. It is expected that some new discs would not start-up properly in your old BD players and may require firmware updates via BD-Live. I also noticed that BD contains a lot of trailers and disclaimers and warnings, so much so that it takes more than a minute to get to the main movie. Tough luck if you accidentally stop the player: there is no "instant resume" like VCD or DVD. I also experienced technical glitches among my separate home theatre equipment linked together with HDMI cables. Sometimes the TV does not recognise the BD signal and I get blue screen, so I had to restart the power to get them working.
It's a no-brainer that BD quality is superior to DVD because the resolution is so much higher. But that doesn't mean that DVDs are unwatchable on your HDTV. It really depends on the DVD compression quality. I did a few visual tests and found that some DVDs (like the Lord of the Rings Trilogy Extended Edition) can playback on HDTV with no visible pixel artifacts, while some BD releases of old movies (like Bram Stoker's Dracula) looked none the better. So, don't replace your existing DVD with BD equivalents, although if you are buying new movie titles , you should consider getting BD if price is not an issue.
Over the months, I have been borrowing BD from friends and buying a few for my collection. Last Friday, I decided to purchase a BD-ROM for my PC. I found that LG is offering a price of $149 for the read-only BD drive with the usual multi-writable DVD/CD features (a rewritable BD drive would cost $199). I have been waiting for the price to drop to a reasonable level and at $149, it's a good price to start owning one (considering the fact that I spent over $600 on the first-gen TEAC 2X CD-Recordable drive in 1997). The model I got is LG CH10LS20 and for the Comex promotion, it comes a 3D-glasses freebie (the normal red-cyan type). Apparently, the included Cyberlink software can convert videos into 3D. I tried and well it kindda works, but I never liked to use these 3D filter glasses that give an awful tint to the images.
The advantage of getting a BD-ROM drive is the ability to watch BD from my PC. Why not from my TV? Well, it's a hassle to even get started: I gotta turn on the TV, the soundbar and the BD player. I gotta wait for over a minute to get to the main movie. Besides that, I have to keep the volume down as the family is asleep so it's hard to catch the conversation.
Now with the BD-ROM installed on my PC, I can easily browse the BD movie or the special features by inserting the BD in the drive, put on my headphones, do some surfing or other PC stuffs while the BD loads up. I can skim the movie by dragging the time bar, or pause the movie as I attend to other stuff on the PC. The $149 price is also reasonable enough to invest in the BD-ROM in view of the general benefits.
If you do purchase the BD-ROM, remember to check that your PC fully supports BD playback. It is very particular about your hardware specs, not to mention all the copyright controls that prevent the playback of content on your monitor. For instance, I had to disable my second monitor before I can play the BD because it's connected via VGA adapter and the system do not recognise the monitor as HDCP-compliant (high-bandwidth digital content protection). I also had to update the Nvidia 9500GT display card driver before I am able to watch the BD movie in full screen without problems.
Labels: Review, Tech