Though compatibility varies by model, music (MP3) and other video formats including DiVX and AVCHD (see next section) may also be playable.
What is the AVCHD format, and why should it excite me?
It stands for Advanced Video Coding High Definition, and you’ll want to know the format better if you own a high-def consumer camcorder. If your camera saves video to internal memory (solid state or a hard drive) or a removable memory card, you’re halfway there. You then transfer the video to your computer for editing (or not) and burn your movie to inexpensive DVD-R media. The discs will play in high-def on an AVCHD-compatible Blu-ray player hooked up to your big-screen HDTV. (AVCHD discs will not work in a DVD player.) So, getting a Blu-ray Disc player with AVCHD playback allows any household with a high-def camcorder and a DVD burner to leverage its investments. If the camera records to an SD card, and the player has an SD slot, you may not even have to create a disc because some Blu-ray players have built-in card readers.
What are the Bonus View and BD-Live features?
Besides touting the higher resolution, promoters of Blu-ray Discs have distinguished the format from DVD with these two features. Bonus View is bonus content that plays in a picture-in-picture window. For example, it could show the director in a corner of the screen explaining through the secondary audio track how the scene was made, as it plays. It could be actors watching the movie together with the audience and commenting about what was going through their minds at the time.
BD-Live is Bonus View with an Internet connection. So, instead of the bonus content playing from disc, it’s streaming from the studio’s server. It could be a live event.
With a BD-Live player and a BD-Live-compatible title, viewers can enjoy special online benefits such as downloadable trailers, live transactions and social interaction centered on specific films. Also, the firmware in players can be upgraded using the Internet connection. To download bonus content, the player needs storage memory. More expensive players may ship with 1 Gigabyte or more of internal memory, but most players require you to plug a flash memory stick into one of its USB ports.
One disc is nice but what about a mega changer?
If removing and returning discs to their jewel cases is too much trouble whenever you want to play a BD, DVD, or CD, consider a 400-disc mega changer. There may even be a “rental slot” for quick-loading one disc when it must be returned.
Are multi-region and multi-system Blu-ray players available?
Yes, but most viewers in the U.S. will see no benefit by paying extra for such players. As with DVDs, Blu-ray Discs are released by the studios to specific regions of the world. If you plan to watch discs distributed to foreign markets, you’re a candidate for a multi-region player. If the player will be used in certain countries overseas or you own a multi-system TV, you may want a Blu-ray player that supports multi-system television displays.
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