5 things to look for in a Blu-ray player

It’s easy to understand why some people are confused over the difference between Blu-ray and DVD. The discs are exactly the same size and, aside from the Blu-ray logo on top, look identical. But while both Blu-ray and DVD players use lasers to read the data stored on their discs, that’s where the similarity ends. Blu-ray squeezes more than six times the amount of information onto a disc as DVD can, and it allows you to view higher-resolution video. (It’s called Blu-ray because the laser is actually blue in color; DVD lasers are red.)

All Blu-ray disc players support high-definition video playback via HDMI with 1080p resolution. They can also play both DVDs and audio CDs, so you can hang on to your existing collection. But your new Blu-ray player can do a lot more than play back great-looking movies. Here’s a look at some of the advanced features that make Blu-ray an all-around fun machine:

1. Access apps

Want to watch Netflix movies or listen to Pandora right from your TV? Some Blu-ray players allow access to a library of apps that let you play games, watch movies, listen to music and much more.

2. Get online

The action isn’t just on the disc now; it’s also on the Web. Some Blu-ray players can access the Internet directly, letting you download software updates and watch video online. You can even access Internet-specific features during movie playback, such as the ability to participate in live commentary track sessions during the film.

3. …Without wires

Most players have an Ethernet port, but some players can connect wirelessly to the Internet via Wi-Fi.

4. Audio options

Now you can surround yourself with as many as eight speakers pumping out audio tracks in a variety of formats, including Dolby® True HD and DTS HD. Some Blu-ray players can decode these tracks and output them to your A/V receiver or TV.

5. One more dimension

The glasses have moved from the cinema to the living room. The latest feature to come to Blu-ray is the ability to watch movies in 3D, such as with the Samsung BD-E6500. (Note that the movie must be stored on the disc in a 3D format and the Blu-ray player must be connected to a 3D TV.)

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