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When HDTV sets first started arising on the market in late 90s consumers were amazed at the clarity HDTV delivered over regular television screens. Since that point millions of men and women have bought new televisions to take advantage of wide screen pictures with DVDs and high definition cable and satellite programming. While many people still haven't made the jump, a technology breakthrough has made even HDTV fans take notice. Developed by Sony, Blu-Ray has pushed screen quality to a higher level. Just a few years gone, no one knew what standard would become the successor to DVD, but now Blu-Ray has won and I'll tell you why you should think about adding Blu-Ray to your home entertainment system.

Though research commenced almost ten years ago, Sony and its partners did not present a final commercial product until mid 2006. The name Blu-Ray derives from the blue laser that is used to read information from a Blu-Ray formatted disc. This is in opposition to the red laser used to scan regular DVD discs. But why is Blu-Ray better than existing DVD formats? Although Blu-Ray discs and players don't appear any different than normal DVDs, they can save much more info which means clearer picture, better audio, and more special features. DVDs can hold up to 8 gbs. of data while Blu-Ray discs can hold fifty gigabytes. Huge difference. The max resolution of a DVD is 720x480 lines whereas Blu-Ray has a max of 1920x1080 (also known as full HD). If you have spent $1000 or more on a 1080p television, you are essentially not making use of all the TV can deliver when viewing standard DVDs.

On release prices for Blu-Ray players were way beyond what a typical home user wanted to spend. Prices between $700 and $1000 were common for the first Blu-Ray players. Plus, there was another competing standard on the store shelves that made plenty of confusion. Toshiba and NEC produced their own DVD successor with the delivery of the HD DVD standard. HD DVD, with a capacity of 15 gigabytes, was an advance over regular DVDs but couldn't meet the specs of Blu-Ray. However HD DVD did have some market benefits. First, they made it to the market three months before Blu-Ray. Second, HD DVD devices where a little cheaper to produce and had a cheaper price tag as a result. Finally, HD DVD had more Hollywood studios on signed up at launch than Sony did which meant more flicks were at first available while Blu-Ray stayed rare.

Sony had one huge trick up their sleeve that quite possibly saved Blu-Ray from a Betamax destiny. Sony included a Blu-Ray player into their highly anticipated PlayStation 3 and sold the whole device for a little less than most stand alone players were going for at the time. Quickly, Blu-Ray commenced making strides until soon it outsold HD DVD 2-to-1 by late 2007. More and more movie studios started to sign on to the Blu-Ray standard totally, beginning with Warner Brothers in early 2008. Right after Toshiba stopped making HD DVD players and recorders. By years end rental firms Netflix and Blockbuster, as well as major shops, announced they would no longer carry HD DVD movies. Currently all major studios release their movies on Blu-Ray. A couple still produce HD DVD and Blu-Ray releases at the same time.

Costs have fallen seriously over the past few years as well. Many big name brand Blu-Ray players from firms 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 quickly. For anyone that enjoys watching movies from home and has invested in a high definition television, now is a great time take a 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 home entertainment store and ask for a Blu-Ray demonstration. The picture sharpness and audio fidelity from Blu-Ray is really superb.

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