Blu-ray FAQs


Q: What's the difference between DVD and Blu-ray Disc?
A: They look alike, physically, because both are based on the same 12cm optical disc -- but that's where the similarity ends. Blu-ray Discs are encoded and read using blue lasers, whose shorter wavelength affords a storage capacity up to 5 times greater than that provided by DVD's red laser technology. This enhanced storage capacity translates to more digital video and audio information for a more complete entertainment experience.

DVDs were designed with standard-definition TVs in mind. While they look great on standard-definition sets, their limitations become more apparent when viewed via the superior resolution of an HDTV. This is especially true when images are highly magnified, as with today's larger flat-panel sets and home theater projectors.

Blu-ray Disc, with its higher storage capacity, is a true high-definition disc format designed to maximize the viewing experience available from today's HDTVs. Blu-ray Discs and players deliver dramatically improved picture and sound quality, along with a number of new conveniences and interactive features. To learn more, see The Blu-ray Disc Advantage.

Back to top

Q: Can I play a Blu-ray Disc on a DVD player?
A: No. Blu-ray Discs play only on Blu-ray players, PlayStation 3 systems and computer Blu-ray drives. They will not play on DVD players.

Back to top

Q: Can I play DVDs, CDs and MP3 discs on a Blu-ray player?
A: DVDs will play on all existing Blu-ray players (with 1080p upconversion via HDMI in most cases); most current players will play DVD-R/RW recordable discs as well. Some early models lacked the ability to play CDs, but virtually all current models support CD playback (including homemade CD-Rs and CD-RWs). Many current models also support MP3 playback, but be sure to check individual product specs carefully for this feature if it's important to you.

Back to top

Q: Can I play discs that I make on my computer's Blu-ray drive on my home Blu-ray player?
A: Many late-model Blu-ray players are compatible with the recordable BD-R and/or BD-RE formats (provided you also have the necessary authoring software needed to create discs in the standard video formats required by stand-alone players). However, this feature is optional at the discretion of the manufacturer. If it's important for your needs, carefully examine the specs to be sure the player you buy is compatible with BD-R and/or BD-RE discs.

Back to top

Q: If I play a DVD on an HDTV, isn't that HD?
A: No. DVDs cannot store enough information to reproduce a high-definition picture. Playing a DVD on an HDTV will produce only a standard definition picture (albeit enhanced in the case of an upconvert DVD player). In order to see a true high-definition picture, you need a Blu-ray player and HDTV (connected via HDMI, DVI or component video cables), plus true high definition content from a Blu-ray Disc.

Back to top

Q: I have a DVD player that upconverts to 1080p. Will a Blu-ray player look significantly better on my HDTV?
A: Absolutely. An upconvert DVD player simulates a high-definition picture (1080p or, in some cases, 1080i) by analyzing the existing pixel information on the disc and crunching a lot of numbers to intelligently predict what the surrounding pixels should look like. The resulting picture, though noticeably improved when compared to a standard DVD picture, isn't truly high-definition because the content on the DVD is not high definition. No DVD player is capable of matching the picture quality of Blu-ray Disc.

Back to top

Q: What if I already own a 720p HDTV? Do I need to buy a 1080p HDTV to watch Blu-ray?
A: No. Blu-ray players allow you to select an output format that's appropriate for the TV you have. While your 720p (or 1080i) HDTV won't fully resolve the native 1080p picture of your Blu-ray Discs, you'll still enjoy an outstanding high-definition picture. You'll notice a significant improvement in picture quality over DVD and other non-HD sources.

Back to top

Q: Must I own an HDTV to enjoy Blu-ray Disc movies?
A: Technically, no, but the Blu-ray Disc format is intended and optimized for high-definition display. You can watch Blu-ray Disc movies on a standard-definition TV as well, provided it has HDMI, DVI or component video inputs. However, even with a Blu-ray player and Blu-ray Disc media, no standard definition TV can produce a true high-definition picture.

Back to top

Q: Will an HDMI cable deliver the best possible picture and sound from my Blu-ray player?
A: Absolutely. If you want to experience the finest 1080p high-definition resolution, an HDMI cable has to be your choice. It is the first and only industry-supported, uncompressed, all-digital audio/video interface, and it packs its power within one convenient cable. It is without question the gold standard for connecting HDTVs and high-definition components like Blu-ray players.

Back to top

Q: Do I need an Internet connection to watch Blu-ray Discs?
A: No. You can enjoy the superior picture and sound benefits of Blu-ray Discs without connecting to the Internet. However, an Internet connection is required to take advantage of additional features afforded by BD-Live, as well as the audio and video streaming capabilities provided by the latest Blu-ray players. A PC with an Internet connection also enables you to easily update the firmware of your Blu-ray player to take advantage of the latest features and performance improvements.

Back to top

Q: What is upgradeable firmware?
A: Firmware is a type of computer program that resides inside your Blu-ray player and makes it possible to play movies and access other features. Just as the software on your PC periodically needs to be updated for optimal performance, your Blu-ray player's firmware requires occasional updates to provide access to the latest features and performance enhancements. In essence, firmware "future-proofs" your player (to the extent that the player's hardware can support it) by letting you add updated features that weren't available when it was originally manufactured.

Firmware updates can also fix problems in the original feature set of your player — minor "glitches" in performance that may impede your enjoyment of certain features. Like computer software makers, the manufacturers of Blu-ray players routinely gather feedback from customers to help them identify such problems and develop solutions. Upgradeable firmware provides a convenient means to improve functionality without the need for the owner to seek professional technical assistance.

For more information, including a list of manufacturer websites where you can download updated firmware for a wide range of players, see The Blu-ray Disc Advantage.

Back to top

Q: I already own a Sony PlayStation 3. Do I need to buy a separate Blu-ray player?
A: As you probably know, the PlayStation 3 (PS3) doubles as a full-featured Blu-ray player. For greater convenience, a dedicated remote control (similar to a DVD remote) may be purchased separately. However, no current model of the PS3 supports interactive BD-Live functionality, so you may wish to consider a dedicated BD-Live player if you want to enjoy these enhanced features.

Back to top

Q: What are BonusView and BD-Live?
A: BonusView is a feature found on Blu-ray players introduced after October 31, 2007, and optionally implemented on select Blu-ray Disc titles. It allows the player to play two different audio and video streams simultaneously, allowing for picture-in-picture functionality. BonusView is often used for director's commentary. The player displays the movie in its original, full-screen form while simultaneously displaying a smaller, inset frame playing video commentary from the film director or other artists involved in the film.

BD-Live refers to interactive features included on select Blu-ray Discs and supported ONLY by specially equipped BD-Live compatible players. While these features vary from disc to disc, they typically range from behind-the-scenes videos to additional bonus content and online games you can download via your broadband Internet connection. BD-Live-capable players include an Ethernet port, and must also support at least 1GB of flash memory (either internal or via a removable storage device such as a USB drive or SD memory card) for storing downloaded content.

Back to top

Q: How should I connect a Blu-ray player to my TV or home theater receiver for the best possible picture and sound?
A: We recommend the player's HDMI output for the best picture and sound quality. This noise-free, all-digital connection carries both video and audio signals for a convenient, single-cable solution. Because it carries signals digitally, HDMI is impervious to interference and allows a perfect bit-for-bit transfer of picture and sound information. Its exceptionally high bandwidth makes HDMI the only connection that can deliver Blu-ray's top video resolution of 1080p. It's also the only connection that can deliver the audio benefits of Blu-ray's enhanced Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio surround formats (in combination with a "built for Blu-ray" audio system).

All Blu-ray players, and virtually all late-model HDTVs and home theater receivers, feature HDMI connections. If you have an older HDTV with a DVI connection instead, you can buy an adapter to convert the HDMI output from your Blu-ray player or receiver to a DVI input. However, since DVI carries only video data, you'll need to use separate connections for the audio signal in this case.

If your HDTV lacks HDMI or DVI connectivity, component video cables are your best choice. Due to the bandwidth limitations of component video, you won't be able to view Blu-ray's maximum 1080p resolution, but both 1080i and 720p are supported. In this case, too, you'll need to make separate arrangements (preferably optical or coaxial digital audio cables to a home theater receiver) for the transfer of your audio signals.

Back to top

Q: Why aren't Blu-ray Disc movies available in "Full Screen" format?
A. "Full Screen" movies have been modified to make them fill the nearly square dimensions of a standard-definition TV screen. Blu-ray Disc movies are intended primarily for display on HDTV screens. Therefore, since all current HDTV screens are designed for the 16:9 theatrical aspect ratio, Blu-ray Disc movies are delivered in that aspect ratio. In essence, 16:9 is the "full-screen" format for HDTV screens, so 4:3 "pan & scan" versions are unnecessary. However, since many films are originally shot in aspect ratios wider than 16:9, you may still observe black bars at the top and bottom of the screen when viewing certain movies.

Back to top

Q: What is a "region code"?
A: As with DVDs, Blu-ray Discs are digitally encoded with a "region code" (A, B, or C, sometimes referred to as 1, 2, or 3) that allows the disc to play only in a Blu-ray player with the same region code. This system was developed to enable studios to control various aspects of a title's release (content, date, price, etc.) according to region. A "region-free" disc is one that can play in all players around the world.

Back to top

 
 
 
 
 
CLOSE