Industry Insights: Future-Proof By Design27 Jun, 2016 By: Thomas K. Arnold
Thanks to innovations like the Disney-pioneered combo pack and players that connect to the Internet, the Blu-ray Disc can grow with technology.
One of the smartest aspects of Blu-ray Disc, both on the software side and on the hardware side, is the format’s future-proof design.
“When we were developing Blu-ray Disc, we wanted to create a format that had flexibility and extendability — something that could adapt as entertainment technologies continued to evolve,” said Victor Matsuda, chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) Global Promotions Committee. “From the evolution of the players, to giving consumers the ability to enjoy films on mobile devices, to the newly released 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format, we’ve done exactly that.”
Indeed, the guiding vision was that entertainment is constantly changing, and the format needs to accommodate what at the time was already perceived as an increasingly connected future.
It could, and would, grow with technology.
Early on, the combo pack, introduced by Walt Disney Studios with Sleeping Beauty in October 2008 to provide transitioning consumers with both a Blu-ray Disc and DVD of the same movie, became a bridge to digital delivery as well, with the inclusion of a “digital copy,” also on disc, that could be transferred to a computer for digital play.
This ultimately transitioned into a code for UltraViolet and Disney Movies Anywhere, the two cloud-based “digital storage lockers” that allow consumers to watch their purchased content, at any time, on any device. UltraViolet is available through all the major studios, except for Walt Disney, whose Disney Movies Anywhere was launched in February 2014 and now counts as its partners such prominent players as iTunes, Amazon Video, Walmart's Vudu, Microsoft Movies and TV, Google Play and Comcast.
Blu-ray Disc is also the primary entry point for consumers wishing to make the jump to 4K Ultra HD, due to its enormous data capacity as well as the public’s familiarity with consuming entertainment on a five-inch disc — a habit introduced with the CD back in 1982 and intensified with the 1997 launch of the DVD, still the most successful product bow in consumer electronics history.
Blu-ray Disc players, too, are a conduit for other viewing options. Blu-ray Disc players also allow users to stream Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, among other choices. Most players offer Wi-Fi connectivity for streaming Internet content, automatic notification of firmware updates, internal decoding of lossless audio formats, social media apps, and more. As noted on the Blu-ray.com website, “BD players have evolved over the last few years into a versatile home theater component capable of filling many entertainment roles.”
Consumer Reports recommends consumers choose Blu-ray Disc players over all other streaming media players, for five key reasons. First and foremost: “They offer streaming options galore. Many of the latest Blu-ray players offer the same video services as dedicated streaming devices. Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, Amazon Instant Video, CinemaNow, YouTube, and a slew of others are pretty common. You’ll also find many models with apps for Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, as well as music services such as Pandora and Rhapsody. A growing number of players have built-in Web browsers, too, along with access to the manufacturer’s app store.” Blu-ray Disc players, according to Consumer Reports, are also “versatile and easy to use”; “offer great connectivity options”; are priced low and thus give consumers “the most bang for the buck”; and have one additional advantage other streaming media players don’t: they play Blu-ray Discs, which according to Consumer Reports continue “to have the best … picture quality and sound you can get at home.”