How to Buy a Blu-Ray Recorder and Player

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How to Buy a Blu-Ray Recorder and Player

The first element of a home theatre setup to upgrade once the new HDTV is in place, is the DVD player. DVD is a dying format, and a Blu-ray player is the only thing that can extend the life of a DVD collection by upscaling the picture quality. The only thing stopping a videophile from dropping in at the nearest store to pick up a Blu-ray recorder and player, is the large number of features and specifications in the newer models. While Blu-ray players have dropped significantly in price since the first generation of players came out, Blu-ray recorders are still new enough that they command a premium. Those who are ready to take the leap, should first take the time to understand the specifications of Blu-ray players and recorders. Learning how to buy a Blu-ray recorder and player online also helps a tech-savvy consumer save money and time.

Blu-Ray Player Profiles

There are three types of Blu-ray players that have come out since the initial format was introduced. Each type is called a profile, and each profile improves on the last with new features and capabilities. Make sure the recorder and player chosen belongs to one of the newer profiles, preferably profile 2.0.

Profile 1.0

This is the profile of the first generation players. While any Blu-ray movie plays just fine on a Profile 1.0 player, there is no access to extra online content, and picture-in-picture commentaries do not work. These players are no longer being manufactured, but they are still being sold all over the world.

Profile 1.1 or BonusView

These players include picture-in-picture commentaries because they have secondary audio and video decoders. They also have Ethernet ports to allow Internet connectivity, but 1.1 players only use the Internet for firmware updates. That means no extra downloadable content.

Profile 2.0 or BD-Live

The latest profile, 2.0 players have all the most recent extras and capabilities. Picture-in-picture commentaries, videos and games can be downloaded with the ethernet connection. 2.0 players also have a mandatory 1 GB of local storage. Of course, this is a moot point when buying a Blu-ray recorder and player because recorders frequently have anywhere from 200 GB to 1 TB of hard disk space.

Blu-Ray Recorder Specifications

Blu-ray recorders have a number of specifications in addition to the specifications for regular Blu-ray players. The first one most people look at is the hard drive capacity. However, there are several other specifications that are just as important in a player or a recorder.

Hard Drive Capacity

The hard drive capacity, is the amount of memory the recorder can hold without the need for external memory. This is important because many sources of HD content are copy-protected and do not allow Blu-ray discs to be made. In other cases, only a single disc can be made of HD content. Some Blu-ray players can be connected with an external HDD, thus multiplying the amount of memory available.

The table below gives the hours of video, standard and high definition, that can usually be stored within various amounts of memory.

Memory

Standard Definition Video

High Definition Video

200 GB

100 hours

50 hours

320 GB

154 hours

80 hours

500 GB

250 hours

125 hours

1 TB

500 hours

250 hours

The number of hours that can be recorded depends on many variables, including the format and compression used by the recorder. Always check how many hours of HD and standard video the manufacturer claims a Blu-ray recorder gives.

3D Capabilities

Many Blu-ray recorders and players have 3D capabilities. These require a special 3D HDTV to make use of the 3D capabilities, but the difference in picture quality is enormous. Certainly anyone with a 3D TV should look for a 3D-capable Blu-ray player to match, in order to make the most of the TV. Beware of Blu-ray players that are '3D-ready'. This usually means that the player can be made 3D-capable with a firmware update from the manufacturer, but there is no telling when that update is available.

Some 3D-capable Blu-ray players convert regular 2D to 3D. While this kind of conversion does not result in true 3D video, it is close enough to be a completely enjoyable experience, especially when it is done to home movies.

BD Media Types

Blu-ray players automatically play most kinds of DVD and CD formats, but there are also several BD formats to look out for. Not all recorders and players can play or record all kinds of Blu-ray discs. Most recorders can write to, and read from, BD-R single, dual layer discs, and BD-RE single, and dual layer discs. Not all Blu-ray players can read discs made in a Blu-ray recorder, so be sure to check compatibility if the plan is to make home movies that can be distributed.

Playback Audio

While Blu-ray players and recorders offer unmatched audio quality, one can only hear this level of audio with the correct audio setup. Blu-ray offers two lossless surround sound formats. These are Dolby Digital True-HD, and DTS-HD Master Audio. Ideally, one can connect the Blu-ray player to the AV receivers with an HDMI cable. If the AV receiver has no HDMI input, it needs to be connected with 6 or 8-channel line audio cables. In this case, the Blu-ray player converts the audio to an analogue format. Make sure the player is capable of doing this before connecting a Blu-ray player to speakers using analogue cables.

Twin Tuners

Several recorder models boast twin HD tuners. These allow a viewer to record shows on two different channels while watching recorded programming at the same time. This is not specifically a Blu-ray function, but it is a feature included in many Blu-ray recorders.

DLNA Certified

A Blu-ray recorder can also act as a DLNA Certified home server. Brands like Panasonic, are including this feature in their Blu-ray recorders so that all home theatre devices can be networked through a single device. This means videos stored on the Blu-ray recorder can be watched on a DLNA-capable TV in another room.

Playable File Formats

Being able to use the Blu-ray recorder as a hub, means that it should be able to play various video formats that might be used on the computer or on a camcorder. These formats include: MP3, MPEG-2, DivX, DivX HD, WMV, JPEG, MKV, and AVCHD among others.

Quick Start

Anyone buying their second, or third Blu-ray player, knows that the single most annoying characteristic of Blu-ray players is the lengthy time they typically take to load. Since Blu-ray discs contain so much information, even simple actions like loading a movie can take a relatively long time, compared to DVDs or other formats. If this is an issue, look for Blu-ray players with a Quick Start feature.

How to Buy a Blu-Ray Recorder and Player on eBay

Blu-ray recorders and players can be found at brick-and-mortar shops as well as online. Brick-and-mortar stores often have a smaller selection and higher prices, making the internet a popular place to find stand-alone Blu-ray recorders, as well as Blu-ray movies and blank discs. However, the biggest concern with online shopping is finding a reputable dealer. For this reason, many people choose to take advantage of eBay's security features as well as its advanced search functions and wide selection.

Advanced Searching

Finding Blu-ray players, recorders, and accessories is as simple as doing a search from any eBay page. Simply enter a term in the search bar with keywords like 'Blu-ray recorder', to see all the Blu-ray recording devices listed at the time of the search. Be aware that many Blu-ray burners and related computer accessories may also show up. To find stand-alone recorders, choose the appropriate subcategory to see only Blu-ray decks intended for home theatre systems. Other search criteria like price, condition, and brand helps you narrow down the search quickly.

Relying on eBay

It is always important to know the details of the returns policy and the warranty before making a purchase. Reputable dealers always post their terms clearly so make sure you read the entire listing and ask any questions you might have, before making a payment. You can find reputable sellers online by looking for those who have a ribbon icon denoting 'Top-rated seller' status. These are eBay sellers with a long history of excellent feedback from customers.

Conclusion

A Blu-ray recorder and player makes the HDTV experience complete. Blu-ray is the next big video format, and it is quickly replacing DVD as the main movie format for home entertainment. Blu-ray players are completely backwards compatible, meaning that they not only play older formats like DVD and CD, but they also make them look and sound better. When shopping for a Blu-ray player and recorder, it is important to know about the three different profiles of these devices. Choosing a player with the latest profile means the user can take advantage of special features like picture-in-picture commentaries and downloadable content. One should then know about the various specifications and capabilities of different Blu-ray recorders and players, in order to find a device that gives the most value for money.

Many Blu-ray players are DLNA certified and can act as a hub for all the entertainment devices in a household, allowing them to share content. By knowing about this and other Blu-ray features available on recorder and player models, anyone can find a future-proofed Blu-ray device that provides enjoyment for several years to come. Blu-ray recorders and accessories can be found easily, and at competitive prices on eBay, the world's leading online marketplace.

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