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When HD sets initially began surfacing in stores in late 90s folks were amazed at the clearness HDTV delivered over standard television sets. Since that point millions of people have upgraded their TVs to enjoy wide screen pictures with DVDs and high definition cable and satellite channels. While many folks still haven't made the jump, a technology discovery has made even HDTV backers take notice. Developed by Sony, Blu-Ray has pushed screen quality to the next level. Just a couple years back, no one had a clue what format would become the inheritor to DVD, but now Blu-Ray has take the crown and I'll tell you why you should consider adding Blu-Ray to your home entertainment system.

Though research began almost a decade ago, Sony and its partners didn't present a final commercial product till mid 2006. The name Blu-Ray comes from the blue laser that is used to read data from a Blu-Ray formatted disc. This is in opposition to the red laser utilized to read regular DVD discs. Yet why is Blu-Ray better than current DVD formats? Even though Blu-Ray discs and players don't look any different than regular DVDs, they can save much more info that means sharper picture, better audio, and more special extras. DVDs can hold up to 8 gigs of info while Blu-Ray discs can hold 50 gigabytes. Huge difference. The maximum resolution of a DVD is 720x480 lines while Blu-Ray has a max of 1920x1080 (also known as full high definition). If you've spent $1000 or more on a 1080p television, you're essentially not exploiting all the set can deliver when viewing standard DVDs.

Originally costs for Blu-Ray players were well beyond what an average consumer wished to spend. Costs between $700 and $1000 were not unusual for the first Blu-Ray players. And, there had been another competing standard on the market that created a lot of perplexity. Toshiba and NEC produced their own DVD follow-up device with release of the HD DVD standard. HD DVD, with a storage capability of 15 gigs, was an advance over regular DVDs but couldn't match the specs of Blu-Ray. But HD DVD did have some market benefits. First, HD DVD was on store shelves three months before Blu-Ray. Second, HD DVD devices where a little cheaper to make and had a cheaper price tag as a consequence. Finally, HD DVD had more movie studios on signed up at launch than Sony did which meant more movies were initially available while Blu-Ray remained scarce.

Sony had a gigantic trick up their sleeve that quite potentially saved Blu-Ray from a Betamax fate. Sony made use of a Blu-Ray player into their highly anticipated PlayStation three and sold the whole device cheaper than many stand alone players were being sold for at the time. Quickly, Blu-Ray began making strides till soon it outsold HD DVD 2-to-1 by late 2007. More and more Hollywood studios began to sign on to the Blu-Ray format totally, starting with Warner Brothers in early 2008. Straight after Toshiba stopped making HD DVD players and recorders. By years end rental firms Netflix and Blockbuster, as well as major shops, said they would no longer carry HD DVD flicks. Now all major studios release their movies on Blu-Ray. A few still produce HD DVD and Blu-Ray releases at the same time.

Prices have fallen dramatically during the last few years as well. Many name brand Blu-Ray players from companies like Panasonic and LG can easily be found between $150 and $250. Blu-Ray disc recorders are in the $200 - $400 range and dropping just as fast. For anyone that enjoys viewing films from home and has invested in an HDTV, now is a fabulous time to look into adding a Blu-Ray player to your setup. Even those who may be skeptical about Blu-Ray's improvements over DVD owe it themselves to go down to their local electronics store and ask for a Blu-Ray demonstration. The picture sharpness and audio fidelity from Blu-Ray is really excellent.

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