When’s the last time you bought a physical copy of a movie?
While it seems like streaming digital movies are the future of home video, reports of the death of physical media, to quote Mark Twain, “have been greatly exaggerated.” You may have noticed the selection of DVDs and Blu-rays shrinking on store shelves, but there are very real advantages to purchasing Blu-rays even now, especially with 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays becoming more common. Here are some good reasons to make the jump to 4K Blu-ray:
Picture and sound quality
Don’t get us wrong — streaming movies online, even ones purchased for your personal movie collection, are certainly convenient. But there are a lot of factors that seriously impact the quality that reaches your TV. No matter how robust your Internet speeds are, there is a lot of compression applied to get it down the pipe. It may not be obvious in every scene, but you are more likely to notice less vibrant colors, pixelation or blocking and other compression-related anomalies with streaming titles. Sound is often also highly compressed in streaming formats.
4K Blu-ray preserves the picture and sound quality intended by the filmmakers, often rivaling the presentations found in your neighborhood movie theater. The picture quality is four times sharper than standard Blu-ray (and many times that of DVD), and high dynamic range (HDR) more closely recreates the range of brightness and color the human eye sees. Newer lossless audio formats like DTS-HD Master Audio and “object-based” surround sound formats like Dolby Atmos further heighten the realism and rival the real theater experience, truly immersing the viewer in three-dimensional sound. Older “lossy” formats found on DVDs and streaming platforms sound pale in comparison.
With most titles, and especially classics shot on film, 4K really brings out the depth and detail of film that you’ve never seen at home before. In fact, many recent 4K Blu-ray restorations present the film even better than when it was first projected in theaters. When studios go back and scan original negatives for a 4K Blu-ray release, you are seeing more clarity than you’d find in a highly-duplicated film print in theaters. That gives you a true representation of what the filmmaker intended you to see (and hear). 4K is truly a cinephile’s dream!
4K titles improve upon older masters
It was often true that in the early days of both DVD and Blu-ray, the first titles out in those formats didn’t necessarily look or sound as great as they should have. Sometimes they used older masters, employed older compression techniques like MPEG-2 (versus more efficient and higher-quality MPEG-4 AVC H.265/HEVC codecs) or used older lossy sound formats like Dolby Digital. Sadly, sometimes these early release cycle titles don’t necessarily get remastered later in the life cycle of formats, even Blu-ray. Studios often re-package titles with older masters in new packaging when they re-release them in stores.
Upgrading to 4K gives these neglected titles a new lease on life because in most instances the studio has to go back and remaster them for the 4K format. One major example of this was Mission: Impossible, a title that came out early in the age of Blu-ray. The newer 4K Blu-ray is a vast improvement over the older muddy-looking Blu-ray with lossy sound. Studios will also bring the original filmmakers in to consult on the remastering and HDR grading of new 4K Blu-rays, which means you are truly seeing these films the way they were meant to be seen.
Title selection is growing quickly
Every time a new format is adopted, it seems like the studios are slow to roll out titles, especially beloved catalog titles like The Wizard of Oz. But 4K Blu-ray is established enough now that title selection is really picking up steam. Most new popular titles are available in 4K Blu-ray, and more and more classic titles are being announced all the time. Storied classics like Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey look absolutely stunning in 4K Blu-ray, while modern titles like Star Wars: The Last Jedi and movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe offer definite upgrades over their DVD and Blu-ray counterparts. Almost every title you watch in 4K Blu-ray is like seeing your favorites for the first time.
Pricing is affordable
Now that 4K Blu-ray is a few years along, pricing of both the players and the discs themselves are coming down drastically. A new 4K Blu-ray player is well within the price range for most movie lovers, and its a great upgrade to future-proof your home collection. It will play not only 4K Blu-rays but standard Blu-rays and DVDs, upscaling the older formats to 4K resolution on your 4K TV. It’s amazing how good many older discs look when upscaled on a well-made 4K Blu-ray player.
Movies are also coming down in price substantially. Many titles can be found as low as $10, and more local stores are carrying a wide selection of new release and value titles.
Most titles are combo packs
The value of buying 4K titles in physical form often far outweighs simply buying titles digitally, because the vast majority of 4K Blu-rays today come as combo packs. They often include not only the 4K Blu-ray but also a standard Blu-ray for backward compatibility, as well as a digital copy redemption code so you can also add the movie to your digital streaming collection on Movies Anywhere, iTunes or Vudu. Buying these combo packs gives you the freedom to watch your movie virtually anywhere, both in high-quality 4K Blu-ray as well as conveniently streaming on the go. Even if you don’t yet upgrade to a 4K player, buying movies in 4K gives you a Blu-ray for viewing today and a 4K copy to enjoy in the future.
Ownership is just plain better
It’s no secret by now that titles come and go from streaming services like Netflix pretty regularly. Even though it may seem like a deal to pay $10 per month for an ever-present library of movies, you’ve probably run into the situation where you have the urge to stream a favorite title one night and it’s not available to stream anywhere. Even on purchasing platforms like Vudu and FandangoNow, titles often fall off the service if the licensor chooses to no longer offer them for digital sale. Titles like the Indiana Jones movies have been known to briefly disappear from the iTunes store for various reasons. Now it’s unlikely – but not out of the realm of possibility – that a title would disappear from your collection after you bought it, but owning a physical disc is your best bet that the movies you love stay in your possession forever. And there’s another very good benefit to owning a disc – you can still play it when the Internet goes down!
Have you experienced the difference that 4K Blu-ray makes for yourself? Stop into the showroom at Suess Electronics in Appleton, WI to see for yourself, or call us at (920) 733-6464 to learn more.