Is It Time to Buy a Blu Ray Player?

I have avoided getting a Blu-ray player for years.

Why I Avoided Blu-ray All These Years

Almost a decade ago, I bought a laptop that just happened to have a Blu-Ray player in it and someone loaned me the first Despicable Me film on a Blu-ray disc, so I played it. Given the small screen size, the only thing I really noticed was that it loaded really slowly.

But there was another reason I preferred DVDs over Blu-Ray discs: DVD Shrink.[1] My preference is to put a disc on a hard drive and then just put the disc in my cabinet. I hate having to find any particular disc.

Is It Time to Buy a Blu Ray Player?

Digital Copies Don’t Cut It — Yet, at Least

I know: I can get digital copies. And as soon as digital copies come with all the extra features that the discs do, I’ll switch. But they don’t.

(Regardless, this is very important: don’t steal films. I could hardly give a jellybean for the lost revenue of Hollywood. But especially now, psychotronic filmmakers can only make films if we all buy them and don’t make or download illegal copies.)

As a result of this, Blu-ray was not a technology that I was keen on.

What Got Me Interested in Blu-ray

But I was at our only remaining video store (and the only one that was ever good), Video Droid. They were playing some film I don’t care for too much (which is unusual, because they have good taste). And I noticed that it looked particularly good on their enormous screen. So I asked the clerk, “Is that Blu-ray?” And she said, “Sure. The players are the same price as DVD players.”

That got me thinking.

There had been a little problem I’ve been running into recently: films on Blu-ray discs are often cheaper than films on DVD. And sometimes, you can only get things on Blu-Ray.

For example, Something Weird Video released The Blood Trilogy on Blu-ray (it says multi-format, but it isn’t — typical Amazon). That’s Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs!, and Color Me Blood Red on a single disc! And when I bought it, it was only $9.99!

Well, that was it! I needed to buy a Blu-ray player. So I went over to Amazon and bought a refurbished Blu-ray player for just $36.99.

My Personal Blu-ray Problems

It turned out to be a bit more complicated for me than I had hoped. I had a monitor with a VGA and two HDMI inputs. So I figured there would be no problem. There was — but just one.

My monitor was so old that it didn’t have speakers in it. So I could watch Blu-rays, but I couldn’t hear them. So I bought a better monitor, with sound, for half the price I paid for my old monitor.

Success!

I was happier than a psychotronic film fanatic with The Blood Trilogy on Blu-ray and nothing to do all Memorial Day.

The great surprise is that even on my little 20", the picture quality is notably better. The sound is not as good as it could be, but sound on the films I most watch is usually the lowest quality aspect.

If You Can, You Should Get a Blu-ray Player

If you are poor, well, you’re poor. But if you aren’t, it’s time to trade in your old DVD player for a Blu-ray player. (Make sure it also plays DVDs, because sometimes — very rarely — they won’t, given it does require an extra laser.) It gives you more options.

And if you buy as few as a dozen films on disc per year, you will likely make your money back within too long. For example, right now, a new release of Bubba Ho-Tep on Blu-ray is available for half-the price of the original DVD. And it has a number of new extras, including a commentary track with Joe R Lansdale, who wrote the original short story. The price difference is well over half the cost of my new Blu-ray player.

DVD Is King — For Now

But yes, you can buy used copies. I’ve just had problems with used discs. People treat them like hell and they often skip or won’t play at all. And there is no point sending them back, because if you purchased a disc used, it’s because it was cheap. Are you really going to spend all that time and effort to send it back just to net $2.00?

DVDs are still king. And for the time being, you can often get very good deals on used copies. Used Blu-ray discs are still unacceptably expensive, but that will change.

I don’t care what the format is. My main problem with VHS is that almost all films were panned and scanned (the edges were cut off on anything other than films shot in 4/3 aspect ratio). Also: very rarely did they have any extras. Otherwise, whatever. You still need a VCR!

The Future Is Blu-ray

But I’m afraid Blu-ray is the future. And it’s reached the point where it will often save you money or allow you to get a film that you couldn’t otherwise.

A Blu-ray player is a good investment. And if you need to replace a DVD player, there’s no question: get a Blu-ray player.


[1] Be very careful if you try to download DVD Shrink. Most sites are just scams. You can spend hours trying to find the link to the program and only be taken to every other site imaginable offering you every kind of software imaginable.

The last release is version 3.2.0.15, although the install program will just say 3.2. Even Wikipedia, as I write this, lists a scam site for DVD Shrink. It is free software. If someone is trying to sell it to you, it is a scam. They will likely take your money and there is no assurance you will even get the software.

The link I provided is good as of the day this was published (27 May 2018). There is a simple link to “Download DVD Shrink 3.2.” If that page has become spam, use the Archive.org link on The Wayback Machine.

Note that DVD Shrink stopped development back in 2004 for legal reasons. So there is no point paying to “support” its development. Also, there are discs it won’t work on. What’s more, it’s use is illegal in some countries. It shouldn’t be. People don’t outlaw garden rakes just because you could commit a crime with them. But this is typical of the power that Hollywood has and our totally out of control copyright system.

3 replies on “Is It Time to Buy a Blu Ray Player?”

  1. James Fillmore says:

    And the thing is, these stupid copyright restrictions can drive people to piracy. A couple of years ago, I was really into a current TV show, and more than happy to pay $1.25 per episode (or whatever it was) for the final season rather than wait for DVD release at the library.

    So I bought the first episode through ITunes, figuring I could transfer it to a flash drive and watch it on my nice TV. Uh-uh! What’s bought in ITunes, stays in ITunes. So I had to watch it on my crummy little laptop screen. I have a nice TV and stereo setup for a reason; that’s how I enjoy watching things. (YMMV, as the kids type.)

    After that, I simply got pirated downloads of the subsequent episodes. I can move those around as I wish. And they were better quality video/audio. I haven’t gotten anything pirated since. I was simply furious that after paying legal price for the show, I couldn’t watch it as I pleased.

    The best thing about Blu-Ray is the audio, but if you’re not into that, enjoy that most Blu-Ray releases are brand new transfers. A really well-transferred DVD looks almost as good as Blu-Ray, but most of the time the transfers were pretty lazy. I don’t know if there’s a cost/technical reason for that.

    • Frank Moraes says:

      Yep, that’s true. And it’s sad. (Although licensing software has gotten better.) It also bugs me that the film and music industry count pirated copies as lost sales, as if any more than 10% of those people would have actually bought them. And then, they never give credit for the way that illegal copies act as advertising. Here’s just one (of many) personal examples. A friend showed me the first five minutes of an illegal copy of The Brothers Bloom. I ran out and bought the DVD. Usually, I’ve watch entire films and then went out and bought the movie.

      I like Peter Norton’s idea about how software copyright should go. You should be able to make as many copies as you want, as long as no two copies can be used at the same time. He also said that software should be like a book: you should be able to pass it from person to person. I have a bunch of films copied on my hard drive — not because I stole them, but because I have a really big DVD collection, and I don’t want to have to go looking for a movie. And the way I live, it can take hours to find a film. They aren’t all in one place because I don’t have one place big enough to fit them all.

      I won’t buy streaming movies. I occasionally rent them, as I just did with Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather Of Gore because I knew I just wanted to watch it once to get some information. If I had wanted to have it, I would have paid $15 for a disc and not $10 for permanent streaming. (For one thing, the disc probably has extras and streaming copies never do, which I don’t understand because there’s no reason they couldn’t.) Although at least in that case, I could watch it anywhere I could login to my Amazon account. But licensing is BS. Of course, so is copyright. If there were no copyright, JK Rowling would still be rich — not as rich, but who cares? She didn’t write the books to become rich anyway. She wanted to be a professional writer, she wasn’t looking to get rich. No creative ever is. Being able to do what you love full-time is the ultimate dream, not having houses around the world.

      I’m so sick of our entire system. All copyright does is push huge amounts of money toward making art that appeals to teenagers. If no film was ever made again, teenagers would be just fine. If no Hollywood film was ever made again, they’d be better off. And so would society.

      I’m sorry I haven’t responded to your comments. I didn’t know you were. I’ll get to them as soon as I can.

      • James Fillmore says:

        Don’t worry about the responses, I’m not a real film buff. I do enjoy reading these posts, though.

        I think you’re right about “lost sales.” Most people pirating video wouldn’t buy the thing, they just want to see the latest movie/show their friends are talking about.

        I’ve long thought the second-run theater model (lower ticket prices) would be more sustainable in the long run, especially now that people watch so much at home. But you can’t make your investment back on a $250 million CGI action film with cheap tickets. (And the more expensive the movie, the more expensive the advertising, so that $250 mil film needs to break $500 at least.)

        Movies are in trouble. Then again, people have been saying that for 100 years…

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