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Learn About: Blu-ray Players and Gaming Systems

What is it?
Blu-ray Players Blu-ray players are high-definition media players that playback Blu-ray discs, the standard in high-definition media. There are many standalone players to choose from. The Sony PlayStation 3 gives you the most compatibility as it includes a built-in Blu-ray disc player in addition to a high-def gaming system. A range of desktop and laptop computer models also have built-in Blu-ray disc players. An external player can substitute just as easily. Also, some of these players can function as Blu-ray recorders.


Output
Blu-ray players support the best quality in video output for HDTVs. Though, it gets a bit more complicated with required and optional audio codecs. See More

DVD Up-scaling and Compatibility
A useful feature all Blu-players have is up-scaling, or up-converting for DVDs. This allows for you to play standard definition DVDs on your Blu-ray player. There are Blu-ray players that support other formats outside of Blu-ray and DVD. See More

PlayStation 3
The PS3 delivers high-definition gaming in addition to being a Blu-ray and music player. The system's compatibility is unmatched and stays up-to-date with regular firmware updates. See More

Profile
The profile of your Blu-ray player is important to know. The most current profile is 2.0, allowing online interactivity through BD-Live. If you plan on buying a used Blu-ray player, the player may have an older profile (e.g. 1.0 or 1.1). See More

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Output

Video
For the best in video quality (1080p) a Blu-ray player is necessary. Most programming still does not offer 1080p so getting the best video output lies squarely on the Blu-ray format. Blu-ray players can connect directly to your HDTV with HDMI or DVI cables, though this will limit your ability to display multiple video sources on your screen. If you plan on having multiple high-def devices a receiver can switch between signals.


*Using a receiver is best and easiest way to incorporate your Blu-ray player and other high-def devices into your home theater system. Check out the Speakers/Home Theater Learn About section for more information on receivers.


Audio
Audio is important to consider as well. Does the Blu-ray player have both analog and digital audio outputs? Digital output like HDMI is usually the best way to go, as it carries both audio and video signals. Analog outputs are useful if you don’t plan on using a receiver. Also, some players do not support 7.1 digital surround sound. Check the audio specifications of your player to see if they align with your system.


Furthermore, there are a number of different audio codecs that Blu-ray players can support. Dolby Digital is a required encoding on Blu-ray discs which all Blu-ray players are able to read. There are other optional codecs that players may or may not be able to read. Dolby TrueHD is a common optional codec. Other optional encodings include variations of DTS-HD. Optional codecs are regarded as having better sound quality. Studios can choose to include these audio encodings on a Blu-ray disc, depending on the title.

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DVD Up-scaling and Compatibility

Some Blu-ray players allow you to play standard definition DVDs. These players up-scale, or up-convert DVDs to a higher resolution. This is particularly useful if you want to keep your existing DVD collection and gradually build your Blu-ray library.


There are some Blu-ray players that can also read CD, Super Audio CDs, and burned discs. If you own a lot of media across different 120mm disc formats then a more universal player may be the answer for you.

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PlayStation 3


PlayStation 3
The PlayStation 3 offers consumers a state-of-the-art, high-definition gaming experience in addition to being a Blu-ray and music player. Also, firmware updates help keep this player up-to-date with industry standards. For example the PS3 is now a Profile 2.0 specification Blu-ray player, or BD-Live capable, through downloadable firmware.

The PlayStation 3's removable hard disk drive (HDD) is available in more than one size (40 or 80 GB). All consoles include HDMI and component connectors, which means you can use your console with most high-definition displays as well as conventional or standard TVs. (Note that only some HDTVs only support 1080p signals via HDMI cables, but even if yours isn't one of them, you'll still get excellent results with 1080i output.)

A note about remotes and the PS3: You will need a Bluetooth remote (such as the Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray Disc Remote), as the PS3 won't work with standard universal remotes. There are USB dongles, however, that can convert infrared signals from standard remotes.

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Profile

2.0
Older profiles of Blu-ray players cannot take advantage of BD-Live, a technology that allows exclusive downloadable content and extended interactivity through the internet. Profile 2.0 Blu-ray players will have an internet (Ethernet) port for this feature. Some features of BD-Live include online chat, in-movie messages (send a message to a friend or have a personal message pop-up during a specific scene). These features are specific to individual Blu-ray titles.


1.1
Profile 1.1 Blu-ray players allow Picture-in-Picture but do not have immediate BD-Live capabilities. These earlier players (1.0 and 1.1) may have an Ethernet port for firmware updates, though may not be able to be updated to use BD-Live. Blu-ray players like the PlayStation 3 have the ability to stay current with the industry through firmware updates, meaning support for Profile 2.0 and beyond.


1.0
Profile 1.0 players do not allow PiP or BD-Live and can only play the movie portion of a Blu-ray disc and display the standard navigation screen like you see on most DVDs.


If you plan on buying an old or used Blu-ray player, there is a good possibility that it may be an outdated profile (1.0, 1.1). Be sure it is 2.0 if you plan on using BD-Live.

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