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Master Geek
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Topic # 58796 19-Mar-2010 13:13
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I have decided NOT to purchase any more blu-ray disk titles.  I will be sticking with standard definition DVD.  Why?  Well, because of ongoing problems with the technology.  For example:

1.  Definition.  There are Blue-Ray DVDs commonly being sold in NZ with a picture definition that is not HD.  Many are in SD and give no better picture quality than can be obtained from the same title on standard definition DVD.  I have a couple of blu-ray titles in front of me now that exhibit this problem:  Bruce Springsteen "Live in Dublin" and "Robin Hood Prince of Thieves".  Both are inferior in this regard.

2.  Picture format. I am sick of the blu-ray picture being shown in letterbox format (with the infamous black bars top and bottom of the picture).  This gives a wider screen than 16:9 format but the vertical size is smaller (not distoreted though) and makes it harder to see.  Standard DVDs do not exhibit this problem.

3.  Dolby Digital surround sound.  This feature was supposed to be one of the main selling points of blu-ray.  But blu-ray disks with this feature appear to be few and far between.  I have seen disks that state on the packaging that they are recorded in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and they are quite clearly not.  The second of my examples above is a case in point.

4.  Pricing.  I expect that when a blu-ray disk is sold at a premium price it should contain sound and picture quality that is appreciably better than standard DVDs commonly available at half or less the same price.  So why should I spend the extra money to get a blu-ray disk that is quite clearly not up to the required standard.

I should add that all the blu-ray disks I have evaluated were purchased in NZ from authorised retail distributors.  My blu-ray player is a Sony BDP-S350 and TV is a Toshiba 42 inch full HD.  The AV receiver is an Onkyo TX-SR806.  All connections are HDMI and, yes, it is set up correctly.

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  Reply # 309109 19-Mar-2010 13:26
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2. Picture format. I am sick of the blu-ray picture being shown in letterbox format (with the infamous black bars top and bottom of the picture). This gives a wider screen than 16:9 format but the vertical size is smaller (not distoreted though) and makes it harder to see. Standard DVDs do not exhibit this problem.

There are many DVD's that are the correct aspect ratio as the director intended. I suspect you have your DVD player setup to "stretch" or "zoom" the image to full screen. http://www.cnet.com/aspect-ratio-guide/

Also did the SD blu-rays say they were full HD - or just SD on Blu-ray format.




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  Reply # 309143 19-Mar-2010 14:11
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"'Bruce Springsteen and the Sessions Band: Live in Dublin' comes to Blu-ray in a 1080i/AVC MPEG-4 transfer framed at the presentation's original 1.78:1 filmed aspect ratio, and typical of many shot-on-HD productions, it has a clarity and dimensionality that can be picture perfect. However, 'Live in Dublin' is not the best HD transfer I've seen on Blu-ray.

On the plus side, general clarity is strong and there are no source defects. Blacks are consistent and deep, while contrast has nice pop without blowing out. However, overall the transfer looks a little dark -- either the stage lights just weren't bright enough, or somewhere along the way the encoding dulled luminance levels. Subsequently, shadow delineation is subpar, and I often had trouble making much out in the way of fine detail. Overall sharpness is also just fair, with the transfer looking afirly soft throughout. Colors can look a bit noisy, too -- reds in particular are usually not very clean, and fleshtones are weak. To be sure, 'Live in Dublin' doesn't look bad, it's just not a particularly striking presentation."

"The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track audio mix on this disc adds much to the experience, adding a much needed blast of dynamism to a movie that honestly comes off as a little square in this day and age.

Dialogue sounds good and is always audible, rising above the sonic landscape even in the most cacophonous situations. It's not wonderful, by any means, but it is well prioritized in the mix.

The rest of the track, in terms of immersive surround activity, is pretty stellar. 'Robin Hood' features zooming arrows (sometimes from the arrow's whooshing point of view), runaway carriages, and clanging sword fights. As such, the surround sound is consistently working - and working well.

All channels are busy - front channels handling dialogue, rear channels adding an extra thwack to the heavier action sequences and general atmosphere of the piece. From front to back, you will be in the forest with the merry men or feel the Sheriff's blade swing close enough to your face to shave a few whiskers off your moustache. While directionality doesn't necessarily seem like a top priority, the rest of the mix is very effective."

These are for US discs probably, have you noticed something different on your ones? Everything I've read suggest Robin Hood is Dolby TrueHD?

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 309157 19-Mar-2010 15:01
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login:
1.  Definition. 

I'm yet to find a bluray disc that wasn't in 1080p.  I believe the format specs do allow for other resolutions but I haven't seen one yet.  Whether the source was 1080 or better is another story though, some blurays have the equivalent of an upscaled DVD quality picture, but again these seem rare.

login:
2.  Picture format.

Bluray and DVD most often present the movie in the aspect ratio the director shot it in.  You're trying to recreate the cinema experience in your own home, so you want the original aspect ratio, not some cropped or stretched copy.  How can one honestly complain about picture quality when you're happy to lop half of it off?  If it's too small, sit closer or buy a bigger TV.

login:
3.  Dolby Digital surround sound.  

Assuming it is all set up properly you should be hearing surround sound obviously.  In my experience the HD audio seems more immersive.  'Dolby Digital' is the old compressed DVD sound.  You're after the Dolby True HD or DTS Master Audio track options for the real deal.  On a lot of players/discs you have to turn these on in the menu's before watching the movie, so that's a good place to check.

Do be aware though that a lot of blurays I've seen in the Warehouse have only got the old Dolby Digital or DTS audio tracks.  Oceans 11 is one such bluray release.

login:
4.  Pricing. 

It's newer and better, so it costs more.
I can easily see the difference between a bluray and a DVD now, for me there was no going back.



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 309169 19-Mar-2010 15:23
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Jaxson:
It's newer and better, so it costs more.
I can easily see the difference between a bluray and a DVD now, for me there was no going back.


In many instances I am not seeing any improvement over the older DVD SD format.  It costs me more and I'm not seeing the benefit.  It's not because of an incorrect setup.  I have checked, rechecked, experimented with different settings and checked again.  It's because some blu-ray disks contain sub-standard content and it's not necessarily indicated on the cover so you can see before you buy.  It's only apparent when you get it home and play it.  So there will be no more blu-rays purchased by me until the manufacturers sort out the problems.


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  Reply # 309179 19-Mar-2010 15:54
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A lot of the first blu-ray titles to the market only came with Dolby Digital 5.1. Nowadays, I'd go so far as to say it's virtually impossible to find a recently released movie title that does have DD5.1 - it's all either Dolby TrueHD or DTS, and PCM to a lesser extent.

As mentioned above, a lot of the blu-ray quality depends on the quality of the source used to film, as well as the quality of the transfer. There are many titles out there that are truly excellent. As an example try watching Batman The Dark Knight or the recent Star Trek film on blu-ray and then see what you think - a visual and audio feast!!

This is a good site for reviews on blu-ray titles: http://www.blu-ray.com/

The important thing to remember is that not every blu-ray title is created equal!

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  Reply # 309191 19-Mar-2010 16:06
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I find myself at odds with your suggestions of inferior quality. I have a library of about 50 blu ray titles at home, and I've been impressed by every one of them. Sure, some transfers are better than others, but I've not once come across a disc carrying SD format material that isn't directly labelled as such. The worst I've seen has still be clearly better than the DVD offering. Lets say I'm yet to be let down by a purchase.

As for aspect ratio, having black bars is just a way of life - you will have to live with it. Movies are usually either in 1.78:1 ratio (16:9, and will fill your entire TV), or 2.35:1. 2.35:1 content is very common with modern films, particular in action/thriller/adventure type movies. Now because your TV is 16:9, the creators of 2.35:1 material have two options. Option 1 is extract a 16:9 subset of the original material, which means it will fill your TV, but you will be missing a section of the picture and not getting the full experience as the director intended! The other option is to deliver the content in 2.35:1 as originally intended and getting black bars on your screen. To be honest, I know which I would prefer and that is to see the whole picture, without any missing parts!

Movies are made for the cinema; 16:9 is the best compromise for television set aspect ratio, as content made for television is either filmed in 4:3 (not so much anymore), or 16:9. 2.35:1 in film is a really wide aspect ratio, but I gotta say I enjoy it when I'm at the movies. But making TV sets that wide is not really practical.

Unless I've gone off on a tangent and misunderstood what you were getting at, DVDs DO exhibit this exact same problem.

As for sub quality audio, Dolby Digital is a pretty archaic format these days, Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio (Or even PCM bitstream) is what you should be looking for these days; again, the majority of titles I see around generally offer at least one of the newer formats.

Do you have any other particular titles that you are unhappy with? I have not had any experience with the two you have mentioned.

Concert material will often be of lesser quality than a huge movie release purely due to the equipment used to record the concert originally - it'll often be interlaced video as opposed to the usual progressive video you would find on feature films. It should still be considerably better than what you would find on a DVD though. Now I'm not sure what sort of content you've been buying but by and large I purchase movies, so maybe there's a lot of concert/music material out there that is not in HD.

In terms of price, I do agree they are expensive, however I've been finding more and more really great prices on blu rays at the Warehouse of late. But I dont agree with your statement about not getting premium quality material; I feel that in the majority of cases we are.

I can appreciate where you're coming from, but I can't say I've experienced any of these issues.



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 309213 19-Mar-2010 16:38
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I have to admit there are currently only 20 or so blu ray disks in my collection and the two I mentioned are the worst examples mentioned here of those I have so far watched.  And none of the disks I own are labelled SD, it's only when I play them that the lack of HD video or HD sound is apparent.  What's also annoying is that the "Robin Hood Prince of Thieves" movie is preceded by a promo extolling the virtues of HD video and sound on blu-ray when the movie is clearly in SD.  It's odd though that the movie credits at the start are in HD whereas the rest of the movie is not.

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 309220 19-Mar-2010 16:58
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What's also annoying is that the "Robin Hood Prince of Thieves" movie is preceded by a promo extolling the virtues of HD video and sound on blu-ray when the movie is clearly in SD.  It's odd though that the movie credits at the start are in HD whereas the rest of the movie is not.


Haha that is bizarre when they do things like that. I came across a totally crazy example last night which you can find on the big bang theory season 2 disc 1 (just a normal DVD in this case), which has a promo for blu ray on it advertising the superior picture quality and what not, you know the ones. What got me about this one was that the advertisement itself was created for 16:9 display, but it had been encoded as a 4:3 video - leading to serious 'postage stamp' effect! So it was advertising the supposedly high quality blu ray format by utilising about half of my TV screen space. Following that, the rest of the DVD is in 16:9, so go figure ???

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  Reply # 309221 19-Mar-2010 17:00
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CapBBeard: Movies are made for the cinema; 16:9 is the best compromise for television set aspect ratio, as content made for television is either filmed in 4:3 (not so much anymore), or 16:9. 2.35:1 in film is a really wide aspect ratio, but I gotta say I enjoy it when I'm at the movies. But making TV sets that wide is not really practical.


There are actually 21:9 TV's on the market. Philips launched these about 18 months ago and I heard rumors earlier this year that the brand would be appearing in the NZ market again with built in Freeview|HD tuners.

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  Reply # 309223 19-Mar-2010 17:09
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sbiddle:
CapBBeard: Movies are made for the cinema; 16:9 is the best compromise for television set aspect ratio, as content made for television is either filmed in 4:3 (not so much anymore), or 16:9. 2.35:1 in film is a really wide aspect ratio, but I gotta say I enjoy it when I'm at the movies. But making TV sets that wide is not really practical.


There are actually 21:9 TV's on the market. Philips launched these about 18 months ago and I heard rumors earlier this year that the brand would be appearing in the NZ market again with built in Freeview|HD tuners.


Oh really? That would be great for movie watching for sure!

Of course, in terms of black bars you dont really get anywhere; now you'll be getting black bars on the sides for 16:9 content. Just cant win, projector is the only way!! :P

Interesting snippet of info there though :)

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 309230 19-Mar-2010 17:49
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@login

LOL, I bet you said the same thing about DVD over VHS. 8)

Look, there are a few reasons why you are not seeing (or hearing) the benefits of bluray.

1. Your screen is small.  To see any difference you'll need at least a 32".
2. The title is crap, like your concert title recorded at low quality and upconverted to 1080p.  Try renting a recent movie, like the Dark Knight, on bluray and see the difference.
3. Hardware settings, e.g. TV is at shop settings.

Not only bluray has a much sharper image but better contrast, deeper colour and original studio sound.  Thats why i have 140 titles since 2007, a 40" inch LCD, PS3 as player, and a receiver that can output lossless PCM sound.
Cheers 



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 309237 19-Mar-2010 18:50
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Kiwipixter: @login

LOL, I bet you said the same thing about DVD over VHS. 8) - ->  No, I didn't.

Look, there are a few reasons why you are not seeing (or hearing) the benefits of bluray.

1. Your screen is small.  To see any difference you'll need at least a 32".  -->  Mine is 42" LCD full HD with absolutely no problems with HD from other sources like FreeviewHD and MySkyHDI.

2. The title is crap, like your concert title recorded at low quality and upconverted to 1080p.   --->  Yes, indeed this is my very point.

3. Hardware settings, e.g. TV is at shop settings.   --> Checked, re-checked and experimented with all possible settings to no avail.


Thanks to all for comments.  I think we all agree that there are some crappy blu-ray titles out there and that we should not necessarily believe the marketing hype.  The only thing I wish I could overcome is the black bands top and bottom.

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  Reply # 309239 19-Mar-2010 18:55
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login:
Kiwipixter: @login

LOL, I bet you said the same thing about DVD over VHS. 8) - ->  No, I didn't.

Look, there are a few reasons why you are not seeing (or hearing) the benefits of bluray.

1. Your screen is small.  To see any difference you'll need at least a 32".  -->  Mine is 42" LCD full HD with absolutely no problems with HD from other sources like FreeviewHD and MySkyHDI.

2. The title is crap, like your concert title recorded at low quality and upconverted to 1080p.   --->  Yes, indeed this is my very point.

3. Hardware settings, e.g. TV is at shop settings.   --> Checked, re-checked and experimented with all possible settings to no avail.


Thanks to all for comments.  I think we all agree that there are some crappy blu-ray titles out there and that we should not necessarily believe the marketing hype.  The only thing I wish I could overcome is the black bands top and bottom.


The black band issue won't be fixed because it's not actually a fault. As explained above it's the reality that most movies are typically filmed in 2.35:1 aspect ratio, if you remove the bars to get a 1.78:1 (16:9 ratio) parts of the image will be chopped off.

A few years ago it used to be normal to to a 16:9 transfer for DVD, now I'm seeing a lot of DVD content is 2.35:1 as well.

If it annoys you your TV probably has a zoom mode that will remove the bars and chop off the left and right of the image. This gives you the choice of removing the bars if you want and lets everybody else view the movie as it was intended to be seen.

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  Reply # 309253 19-Mar-2010 19:47
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i think you've been buying the wrong bluray titles! totally disagree in every respect. sorry.

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  Reply # 309254 19-Mar-2010 19:48
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or if you've been buying the right titles, your equipment is of the wrong type!

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