• Why do We Need Blu-rays and DVDs in the Age of Streaming

    Posted on January 6th, 2017 Henry | No comments

    About a decade ago, gift giving of DVDs between friends who love movies was very commonplace. But in recent years, as Internet grew in popularity, the sales of DVDs and later Blu-rays started to drop and video streaming services started to replace the physical media. Buying Blu-ray or DVD discs has become more of an uncommon thing because online video streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime or others provide us with libraries with thousands of movies and TV shows for a monthly price less than the cost of a single movie on Blu-ray disc. If a choice had to be made, most people would probably go for online movie streaming rather than a Blu-ray disc.

    Although streaming is the mainstream right now but some of you might not know that physical media still remains superior to streaming in almost every way regarding technical aspect.

    Even the best streaming can’t surpass physical media in picture and sound quality

    The most basic elements of the home viewing experiences are the picture and sound quality. And the current gold standard in home video is 4K. The standard resolution of 4K is 3840*2160, which is way higher than the old HD standard of 1080P and in theory, it should be able to provide denser and sharper image. But according to the A/V enthusiasts at WhatHiFi.com who compared the 4K content offered by Netflix and Amazon to the traditional 1080P Blu-ray disc, the viewing experience of the streaming 4K was basically the same as 1080P Blu-ray. More surprisingly, the contrast and color of the Blu-rays are significantly better than the 4K streaming. Ultra HD discs, in the meanwhile, shows obvious advantage over the two.

    Another advantage that physical media has over streaming is in surround sound technology. Blu-rays are able to contain the Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio standards capable of producing supreme seven-speaker sound. With the right setup, these audio formats are able to make the big movie scenes more dynamic and immersive.

    What’s dragging streaming down is compression: the picture and sound quality has to be compromised to be sent efficiently over the internet. Although effects have been put into retaining the quality from compression, quality loss is still inevitable. Darker scenes tend to suffer the most from quality loss. Some specific scenes, like sunsets or rooms lit by firelight, would become chunky and pixelated.

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