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post #1 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 04:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Giving Up on Blu-Ray: Why I Switched to The Cloud



About a week ago, I decided to get rid of all my Blu-ray discs. It was not a large collection, only 110 titles. Still, the discs represent an investment of about $2000, and I bought most of them over the course the last 18 months. Although I've watched Blu-rays since the format first came out, I started buying them on a regular basis when I started writing comparisons of Blu-ray with online delivery formats here on AVS forum. A recent poll by Scott Wilkinson showed that three quarters of AVS members prefer to get their movies on Blu-ray. With over 1000 votes, it might not be a scientific poll, but it is indicative of how the broader AVS community feels about Blu-ray versus cloud-based HD movie formats. In past articles, whenever I suggested that the online-delivery formats come close to matching Blu-ray in overall quality, it has triggered a lot of debate. 
My Vudu HDX movie collection replaced my Blu-ray collection 

When I first started with the format comparisons, it was not uncommon to see a big difference between Blu-ray and online formats such as iTunes HD and Vudu HDX. But as time went by, the overall quality of those online delivery formats improved. It's not because of an increase in allotted bandwidth; the specs for iTunes HD and Vudu HDX are the same as they've been for the last few years. I believe it's because the content providers have improved the quality of their product. Ultimately, results matter—cloud-based HD movie formats now look very good, even on a large screen. In 2014, the main reason I continued to buy Blu-rays was for 3D. While I enjoy 3D on occasion, I don’t enjoy wearing glasses to experience it. Recently, several factors led me to a change of heart about watching movies in 3D on my Vizio M3D550KD, a 1080p, passive-3D, LED-edgelit LCD. The first disrupting factor was a two-month trial of a TV featuring Ultra-D glasses-free 3D; you can read about that experience in this thread. After spending those months watching 3D without having to wear glasses, I can't go back to watching my Vizio or any other TV that requires spectacles in order to experience the illusion of depth. The Ultra-D TV along with my (former) collection of 3D Blu-rays 

The second disrupting factor was my very recent purchase of a Samsung PN60F5300 plasma. For $799 (on sale), it offers 60 inches of plasma image quality—including the ability to calibrate color using 10-point grayscale controls. What it does not have is 3D. When I compare the experience of watching actual 3D on my Vizio versus 2D on the plasma, there's no question that the plasma wins out. Even a movie like Gravity benefited more from plasma's intrinsic deep blacks and high motion resolution than it did from its award-winning 3D special effects. Now, before you suggest that I should have purchased a plasma with 3D capabilities, I should mention that I bought the Vizio M3D550KD because I could not stand watching active 3D using shutter glasses. Prior to the Vizio, I owned a Panasonic plasma (VT30) that featured active 3D. As sharp as that VT30 was in full-HD 3D mode, it was also too dim to watch, and it suffered from crosstalk. It hardly matters what the problems were, because I accidentally broke the screen on that plasma—don't ask how, suffice to say it was my fault. The replacement for that panel was the Vizio; at the time, I found passive 3D on an LCD TV was much brighter and easier on the eyes. Also, I was so excited about 3D that I was willing to forgive many of the image-quality flaws of edgelit LCDs. Those factors came together in my decision to get rid of all my Blu-rays. Almost on a whim, I took my stack of discs down to the CEX store on South Street in Philadelphia and waited as the employee inspected and scanned each disc. After almost an hour, the deed was done, and I accepted a cash payment of $340 in exchange for my stack of discs. I had expected to get less out of the transaction, so I was happy with the result. Prior to stopping at CEX, I tried to sell the discs at a used movie/bookstore where the owner looked mortified that I wanted money for my collection. Given that, and the fact that Amazon was only offering a pittance in credit for the same titles, I was perfectly happy taking the money from what amounts to a glorified pawnshop. On June 3, 2014, 300: Rise of an Empire came out as a digital early release. The sequel to the R-rated blockbuster 300 is a completely ridiculous, exploitive, gratuitous, and violent movie full of in-your-face 3D special effects—it's the sort of movie I buy on 3D Blu-ray. This time, I looked at the options available on Vudu and decided to buy the combo pack that included the 2D and 3D versions in HDX format, which include special features. It was not cheap; after tax, it cost me $35. The 2D version looked and sounded great, with only a few banding artifacts creeping into deep shadows, but 99% of the time it looked fantastic. The 3D version of the movie was quite a surprise—it looked as good as any 3D Blu-ray I've seen, with nary an artifact to spoil the effect. 300: Rise of an Empire is available for online delivery—in 2D and 3D—with special features. 

I know that giving up Blu-rays won't work for many people—access to adequate bandwidth is a major issue in many areas, and some people feel that physical media offers more security—that a disc represents ownership and a license to a cloud-based product does not. I've read many comments along the lines of, "What happens if the cloud-based movie service goes out of business?" That's probably the most contentious aspect of my decision—are my UltraViolet-licensed titles going to be accessible forever? I don’t have a good answer for that, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.I fully agree with anyone who claims that Blu-ray currently offers the very best 1080p image quality that's available to consumers at a reasonable price. In my own comparisons, I've never seen an online format such as iTunes HD, Amazon HD, or Vudu HDX beat Blu-ray in terms of picture quality. Nevertheless, I've also seen those formats—and especially Vudu HDX—come incredibly close to Blu-ray's picture quality time after-time. The quality difference is no longer enough to keep me on the physical-disc side of the fence. I strongly prefer having my library readily available on multiple devices. In addition, before anyone even asks—I flatly refuse to rip Blu-rays. It's a shame that the laws are what they are, but that doesn’t mean I'm ready to break 'em. Going forward, I'll probably buy 3D Blu-rays when they go on sale. The price of 3D via online delivery is often higher than the Blu-ray version, and as I discovered, 3D Blu-rays retain at least a bit of resale value. Buying, then selling, 3D Blu-rays allows me to view a movie in 3D for half the cost of 3D on Vudu HDX, and I still end up with an UltraViolet license that I can redeem for a 2D HDX copy of the film. Is it the best of both worlds? It is for me, at least for now. When it comes to 2D movies, I'm considerably less motivated to buy Blu-ray in the future. I've grown comfortable with paying $15 for a license to an iTunes HD or Vudu HDX version of a movie. For me, the plusses outweigh the minuses. Part of what makes it work for me is that I already have fast Internet access, and my viewing habits don't put me at risk of exceeding my bandwidth cap. I fully acknowledge that adequate Internet bandwidth is a pre-requisite to successfully making the transition to cloud-based content delivery. For me, the time to make that switch has arrived. I'm sure that other AVS members will have a different take, so whether you think I'm crazy, impatient, savvy, or just plain dumb for selling off my Blu-rays, please chime in and let me know your thoughts on this controversial

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Last edited by imagic; 06-12-2014 at 04:14 AM.
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post #2 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 06:41 AM
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In addition, before anyone even asks—I flatly refuse to rip Blu-rays. It's a shame that the laws are what they are, but that doesn’t mean I'm ready to break 'em.

I guarantee that you break laws every day. Speed limits, jaywalking, connecting to open wifi networks without explicit permission (your phone likely does this automatically as you walk around town), singing Happy Birthday in public...

If you don't want to rip your own discs for other reasons then that's fine. But to refuse because of a law is just silly.
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post #3 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 06:48 AM - Thread Starter
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In addition, before anyone even asks—I flatly refuse to rip Blu-rays. It's a shame that the laws are what they are, but that doesn’t mean I'm ready to break 'em.

I guarantee that you break laws every day. Speed limits, jaywalking, connecting to open wifi networks without explicit permission (your phone likely does this automatically as you walk around town), singing Happy Birthday in public...

If you don't want to rip your own discs for other reasons then that's fine. But to refuse because of a law is just silly.

I do not break any of the laws you mentioned on a regular basis, mostly because I do not own a car, I do not commute, and where I live (center city Philly) pedestrians have the right of way. And I do not sing happy birthday in public. I turn my phone's WiFi off when I walk my dog, and whenever I leave home.

I even buy all my music.

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post #4 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 07:12 AM
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I do not break any of the laws you mentioned on a regular basis, mostly because I do not own a car, I do not commute, and where I live (center city Philly) pedestrians have the right of way. And I do not sing happy birthday in public. I turn my phone's WiFi off when I walk my dog, and whenever I leave home.

I even buy all my music.

Those examples were just a quick illustration. I could list literally hundreds of silly or obscure laws that 'honest law abiding' people break every day.

Suffice to say I guarantee you break some laws, we all do. So please come down off your high horse. If you won't rip discs for other reasons (cost, lack of technical knowledge etc.) that's fine.
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post #5 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
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I do not break any of the laws you mentioned on a regular basis, mostly because I do not own a car, I do not commute, and where I live (center city Philly) pedestrians have the right of way. And I do not sing happy birthday in public. I turn my phone's WiFi off when I walk my dog, and whenever I leave home.

I even buy all my music.

Those examples were just a quick illustration. I could list literally hundreds of silly or obscure laws that 'honest law abiding' people break every day.

Suffice to say I guarantee you break some laws, we all do. So please come down off your high horse. If you won't rip discs for other reasons (cost, lack of technical knowledge etc.) that's fine.

No high horse. You can accept my reason at face value, I respect copyright law. I certainly have the technical knowledge. What does cost have to do with it?

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post #6 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 07:46 AM
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imagic,
I hate to say it but I have been slowly going the same way as you. I have far more HDX movies than the 89 I think I saw you had in the screenshot and I haven't bought a Blu-ray disc since Desolation of Smaug 3D came out. On my 70" Elite screen at my viewing distance of ~14' I just can't see a huge difference. I admit that the sound is often superior on my blu-rays but with children in my house now I can't crank it up when I want to watch a movie at night and at my typical listening volumes it just doesn't matter as much as it used to for me. I only buy Blu-rays at this point if there is a ridiculously good sale on something I have wanted for a while, if it is a truly demo worthy reference disc, if it is a 3D movie I am interested in or if it is a kids movie since I like when my son looks a the shelf to pick a movie out smile.gif
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post #7 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 08:55 AM
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@imagic
Interesting rationale and a huge jump to make. The whole streaming landscape is evolving with respect to license restrictions and cost structures -- especially cost structures. There are a lot of people with their hands out looking to make as much as the market will bear -- from the people who create the content, to the people who deliver it, to the people who own the pipes it is shipped over. It will be interesting to see how you feel about it in a couple years when the dust has started to settle. In the mean time you run the risk of getting burned, but you already said you acknowledge and accept that risk. Good luck. It's just not for me and never will be.

I'm curious. You had no problem finding multiple outlets to sell your used BluRay disks. Digital licenses are not cheap. Do you have the same ability to sell and transfer your digital licenses.

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post #8 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 09:12 AM
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I am willing to help you. Just send me your BD player, It is the least I can do.....wink.gif
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post #9 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 09:16 AM
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No, he doesn't. The rightsholders do everything to prevent the right of first sale apply to digital goods. Concerning losing access to your collection due to servers being turned off: it has happened before.
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post #10 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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I am willing to help you. Just send me your BD player, It is the least I can do.....wink.gif

Now hold on there... my BDP S5100 is my preferred streaming device. biggrin.gif

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post #11 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 09:27 AM
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imagic,

I've considered doing something similar but I can't get past the idea of watching an inferior quality product to blu-ray - even if the difference is getting smaller and smaller.

Also, personally I'm too invested in blu-ray to dump my collection and start over, I literally started collecting day one of the format and I'm now sitting at over 1,000 titles. Having said that, if disc-to-digial becomes more widely available at a reasonable price in Canada (presently we only have DVD to HD available in Canada not blu-ray to HD) I would pay to put it all in the cloud just for the improved accessibility. Although it would result in some compromise in quality it beats having to rip all your titles and maintaining your own server. Also, that would be the best of both worlds, for that rare time when I really want to see a blu-ray in full quality I'll have the comfort of knowing I have the disc, for other occassions the UV HD copy would do.

Hopefully D2D takes off in Canada, if I'm not mistaken the cost in the U.S. is a very reasonable $2 to convert a blu-ray into an HD UV title.
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post #12 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 09:31 AM
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Now hold on there... my BDP S5100 is my preferred streaming device. biggrin.gif

Can't blame a guy for trying. rolleyes.gif I can use my Oppo for the same thing but I usually use my Hopper.
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post #13 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 10:00 AM
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No, he doesn't. The rightsholders do everything to prevent the right of first sale apply to digital goods.
Of course they do. One would expect no less of them. So lack of ability to resell and uncertainty as to how long you will be able to retain access to the title makes it little more than a very expensive rental. Like I said, the landscape is evolving.

This is simply not for me.
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post #14 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 10:06 AM
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Hi imagic,

I'm glad you have a setup that works for you. Previously when reading about people who did similar things either with iTunes or UVVU or even just people who lease streaming access to Netflix and call it a day, I was ready to put up my dukes and try to convince them my way was better. My way, collecting Blu Rays, is actually better so there isn't any reason for discussion like that.

That said,... with so many shelves full of glorious blu rays, I wanted to convert dvds and even a few laserdiscs to UV copies but couldn't get the process started because most of the stuff I still have in those formats simply isn't available in any form from UVVU. So,... one thing you will have to contend with is only having access to things UV decides to offer. I did convert a couple of DVDs to HDX copies if the movie wasn't available for purchase on Blu ... but a few of those wound up coming to blu and I was happy to re-buy them again... I do tend to really be "attached" to my movies.

Perhaps being more "with it," my wife and kids have really taken to streaming for things they watch..My wife likes to stream TV series from Amazon prime and my kids like to stream videos from youtube, vevo and other online sites. It occurs to me that it's possible for 4 or 5 people in my house to try steaming something HD at the same time... I would not be able to cope with this if I was watching one of my movies in the HT and suddenly got dumped to a lower quality steam due to net traffic overload. Not to mention people who want to check email and suddenly feel like they are on dial up with all the streaming going on.

Some people think streaming is the next thing and "the future" while maybe not realizing ... there's going to be a next thing after that also...I used to worry about it, like what if Blu Ray disappeared... I don't worry about it anymore. I'm happy with my collection which is still growing. I find the scratch resistant layer makes it easy to buy used copies that always look as new.

I've been at AVS over a decade and hope to be here for a few more ... it will be interesting to see this "future" and see how various solutions to owning movies holds up over time.

-Brian
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post #15 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 11:11 AM
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How does vudu hdx look on 110"+ projection?

I would gladly drop discs if only I could download full quality BDs. Not even close to that where I live unfortunately. I always seek maximum quality and streaming/download does not provide that yet for me in my country.
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post #16 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 11:27 AM
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Hi, why did you decide to sell a $2,000 investment for $340 instead of keeping the library but not buying any new ones? smile.gif [Perhaps you mention it in the article, only skimmed it through fairly quickly as I am at work and am supposed to be getting my coffee right now.. :P ]
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How does vudu hdx look on 110"+ projection?

I would gladly drop discs if only I could download full quality BDs. Not even close to that where I live unfortunately. I always seek maximum quality and streaming/download does not provide that yet for me in my country.

It looks pretty good, I have to say. But I have only rented a couple of movies that way yet, not bought. I do think on a big project screen Blu-ray wins plus I like having the physical copy anyway.
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post #17 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
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How does vudu hdx look on 110"+ projection?

I would gladly drop discs if only I could download full quality BDs. Not even close to that where I live unfortunately. I always seek maximum quality and streaming/download does not provide that yet for me in my country.

It looks very, very good at 115" 1080p. As good as a Bluray? No, but for most films it looks better than good enough. I've pretty much switched to the cloud as well. I've upgraded most of my DVD collection to HDX files on Vudu and 95% of new purchases are through iTunes or Vudu. (I will admit, however, that instead of dumping the physical discs, they've gone into boxes in the attic.)

I'm a professional video editor by trade, so quality is my thing. For the majority of the content I watch, the difference between streaming and Bluray is negligible. Not worth it. For the rest, I'll buy the bluray.

Oh, and you can download full quality BDs from Kaleidescape, but the cost of entry is pretty steep and not all studios have signed on.
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post #18 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 11:37 AM
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Of course they do. One would expect no less of them. So lack of ability to resell and uncertainty as to how long you will be able to retain access to the title makes it little more than a very expensive rental. Like I said, the landscape is evolving.

This is simply not for me.
These are my thoughts exactly. Even if streaming quality eventually surpasses bluray quality, I will not spend my money on a very expensive rental. Not when I could spend that money on a hard copy that I am free to use as I see fit, essentially forever. Plus when your internet connection goes out, which it's bound to do for everyone occasionally, is exactly when you're going to feel like watching a movie.

I'm not into "thumbs upping" or "liking". Don't take it personally. Just assume that I found your post helpful. Unless it wasn't.
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post #19 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 11:39 AM
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I have seen Gravity and know that all of the Sat's could disappear at any time...............(multiple ways this could happen). No Sat's likely means an end to any Cloud and downloads etc.

I'm keeping my disc's.smile.gif
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post #20 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 11:43 AM
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Lossy sound = :P
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post #21 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 11:43 AM
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Even if picture quality is getting close, it seems like sound quality is worlds away from reaching blu-ray quality levels.
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post #22 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 11:43 AM
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Oh, and you can download full quality BDs from Kaleidescape, but the cost of entry is pretty steep and not all studios have signed on.

Wow, never heard of that before - just looked at it, individual movies are indeed fairly expensive but not much more so than a new movie on first release Blu Ray would be.. other some other costs (Did not have time to explore the site much)? So you just download to a hard-disk? [Ah, now see there are some boxes to buy too. smile.gif ]
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post #23 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 11:44 AM
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If I could download blu ray quality material on a storage device at home, I would stop buying blu ray discs. I'm not talking about the overpriced Kaleidescape device, but something closer to $500 with a interchangeable hard drives so I can store thousands of future purchased blu ray and 4K downloads if I choose. I would keep the blu rays I have, along with my OPPO, but another stand along device for future purchases would be ideal. I know that will not happen as streaming is the future and companies are becoming more and more hesitant to produce new physical media devices anymore. I wonder how much longer OPPO will last.
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post #24 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 11:44 AM
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If you can live without the best quality possible (both video AND audio), then ditching BD isn't such a bad idea. But BD is still the best quality out there.It simply can't be beat. Granted, a lot of the streamed stuff these days looks pretty impressive, but more times than not the audio is still nowhere near comparison values, and to me the audio is just as important as a quality picture.

I just can't see ditching BD anytime in the near future. At least not until the streamed audio quality gets better.
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post #25 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 11:50 AM
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I currently have a library of around 500 movies. I would love to shrink it down and not take up a wall of movies. But my Internet is just not that reliable. I have comcast and its 50mb, but it is always slowing down or losing connection. I swear my house is made of lead.
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post #26 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 12:00 PM
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But buying blu-ray discs for the 1080p video quality is only half of the story. By streaming, aren't you missing out on the HD audio that the blu-ray also provides. I know I don't get 7.1 surround from my cable provider on the premium channels and you hear stories of how the red-box movie audio is degraded in some fashion when compared to the retail version.

Does anyone have comparisons of how the audio from streaming sources stack up to the blu-ray version?

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post #27 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 12:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbarney View Post

If you can live without the best quality possible (both video AND audio), then ditching BD isn't such a bad idea. But BD is still the best quality out there.It simply can't be beat. Granted, a lot of the streamed stuff these days looks pretty impressive, but more times than not the audio is still nowhere near comparison values, and to me the audio is just as important as a quality picture.

I just can't see ditching BD anytime in the near future. At least not until the streamed audio quality gets better.

Totally agree. Every time I watch a broadcast TV show or listen to a Netflix stream I can't help but notice the significant difference between the lossy sound and my beautiful sounding Blu-rays. Some movies/shows just don't have great sound design and in those instances I can see going digital. However, I still don't like the idea of having to remember with each piece of content whether it is a disc or not. Rather just stick with the disc. All it amounts to is physical space which I am not worried about.
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post #28 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 12:11 PM
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Scenario's were this method fails.

VUDU loosing rights due to renegotiation. You will loose all the movies you purchased through that studio.

Your internet goes down.

Internet prices or only going to up and caps down.
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post #29 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 12:16 PM
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Internet prices or only going to up and caps down.
I'm thinking more along the lines of tiered service plans. The days of "unlimited bandwidth" will eventually come to a close.

No one will lose money here -- except the consumers.
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post #30 of 706 Old 06-10-2014, 12:39 PM
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Great discussion. I have been moving slowly over. I still buy the blurays -if they have digital copies. For me, I have the necessary speed and all hard-wired (kinda goes against the cloud in a twisted way, lol). But, for me, it comes down to convenience v sound. If I really want to blast the room and hear all the details, then it's definitely bluray. If it is passive watching, even new releases, I will generally stream it before waiting for it to come out. I use the streaming as a pseudo preview for purchase (again, because of sound and digital copies that sometimes follow). I don't see the need to keep pressing out DVDs to put in the pack with a Bluray and digital copy though.
my 0.02

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