News

Blu-ray discs offer superb picture, sound

Doug Nye
McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)

High-definition DVDs have been around for more than a year, but there hasn't exactly been a stampede to buy them. For many consumers, the biggest stumbling block has been the high-def format war between the Blu-ray disc camp and the HD-DVD backers.

But gradually more and more people are tempted to take the plunge once they see the quality of the dazzling pictures and the crisp sound provided by both formats. Such temptations seem to be even greater during the holiday season.

So if you are tempted, which format do you chose?

The pick here is Blu-ray. Why? It has twice the capacity of HD-DVD and its surface is more durable. In addition, Disney and Steven Spielberg have thrown their weight behind Blu-ray. That's about as good an endorsement as one can find.

There are now dozens of titles available on Blu-ray, and it's not just the new films that look terrific. An older movie such as "The Searchers" (Warner, 1956, $28.99) starring John Wayne is a knockout on Blu-ray, with Monument Valley, Utah, looking stunning as the backdrop for director John Ford's classic Western.

Blu-ray players aren't cheap; they range anywhere from $399 to $799 (and up). But consider that videotape players cost nearly $1,000 in the early days of VCRs. So in comparison, the Blu-ray price tags don't look quite as imposing. Besides, most in the industry expect the prices to continue to drop.

Those who purchase a Blu-ray player will be delighted to find it also plays regular DVDs and makes them look even better. Blu-ray would make a prefect Christmas gift for any movie fan.

Here's a small sampling of what is currently available on Blu-ray:

Science-fiction/fantasy: "Close Encounters of The Third Kind" (Sony, 1977, $49.95); "The Day After Tomorrow" (20th Century Fox, 2004, $39.98); "The Shining" (Warner, 1980, $28.99); "Blade Runner" (Warner, 1982, $39.99); "2001: A Space Odyssey" (Warner, 1968, $28.99)

Action, adventure: "Die Hard Collection" (20th Century Fox, 1988-2007, $129.95); "Rescue Dawn" (MGM, 2007, $39.98); "The Patriot" (Sony, 2000, $28.99)

Superheroes: "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" (20th Century Fox, 2007, $39.98); "Spider-Man Trilogy" (Sony, 2002-07, $92.95); "X-Men: The Last Stand" (20th Century Fox, 2006, $39.98)

Family: "Cars" (Disney, 2006, $34.99); "Ratatouille" (Disney, 2007, $34.99); "The Santa Clause 3" (Disney, 2006, $34.99); "Night at the Museum" (20th Century Fox, 2006, $39.98)

Western: "Wyatt Earp" (Warner, 1994, $28.99); "Rio Bravo" (Warner, 1959, $28.99); "Unforgiven" (Warner, 1992, $28.99)

Television: "Prison Break: Season 1" (20th Century Fox, 2005-06, $99.98); "Tony Bennett - An American Classic" (Sony, 2006, $29.88)

For day-to-day details on the Blu-ray and HD-DVD format, go to www.thedigitalbits.com.

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