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Home Theater/Blu-Ray, is it worth it?


QUESTION: Someone wants to barter their Blu-Ray (Samsung BD-P1600) in exchange for a Sharp LC-HDTV I am advertising. However I am not sure as to whether or not I am properly equipped to install it?
Our provider is Verizon FIOS, with our 24" Toshiba HDTV hooked up to Verizon's main DVR box. I know I would have to pay Verizon extra to hook me up to yet another box in order to view HD. Would I have to do the same for Blu-Ray, or is it a stand-alone system?
Also, do you think Blu-Ray would be less effective on a 24" screen, or is it visually more effective on bigger screens than this?
Bottom line: I don't know if this would be a good trade to make.
Any feedback would be welcome and most appreciated.

ANSWER: I'd like to address your question as two questions, the first being "is this a good trade?" and the second being about Blu-ray more generally.

In response to the first, I'm going to plainly say that no, this is not a good trade. The BD-P1600 is a ~4 year old Blu-ray player, and unless your Sharp TV is very inexpensive as a device (is it worth less than $50 to you?), it isn't a fair overall trade.

In response to the second, I think there might be some misunderstanding of what Blu-ray is and isn't. Verizon would have no relationship to the player, and you can essentially conceptualize Blu-ray as a bigger, better quality version of DVD. While DVD stores video in a 480i format, Blu-ray can store video in a 1080p format (which is HD resolution); Blu-ray also has expanded features like Blu-ray Live (which is a network enabled feature you can use on some titles), and generally includes more special features than a standard DVD release of the same movie. In terms of it being worth it for you - players are relatively inexpensive ($50-$100), will be backwards compatible with DVDs and CDs, and many offer additional features like Netflix or Pandora streaming (you can buy stand-alone streaming devices for this kind of thing, if you don't need a disc player). The only "rub" is that you have to buy movies on Blu-ray to enjoy the benefits of the higher resolution and extra features; generally I don't suggest re-buying content that you already own, unless you're a big fan (for example if you're a big Star Wars fan, and own Star Wars on DVD, re-purchasing it on Blu-ray might make sense, but if it's a movie that you'll only watch once a year or so, buying a second copy (even a higher quality one) probably isn't worth it).

Screen-size does matter to an extent; but with an HDTV you will still be able to enjoy the higher resolution offered by Blu-ray over DVD, as well as the extra features that Blu-ray releases tend to include (some are, however, very sparse - but generally speaking there are more interactive features and menus with Blu-ray titles (especially new releases, for example Tron: Legacy)).

As far as hooking it up, it's as simple as plugging in an HDMI cable from the player to the TV. If you have a surround sound system or other external audio system connected to the TV, you may need to make additional connections, but generally the complexity level here is no worse than hooking up a DVD player or VCR.

If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: >In response to the first, I'm going to plainly say that no, this is not a good trade. The BD-P1600 is a ~4 year old Blu-ray player, and unless your Sharp TV is very inexpensive as a device (is it worth less than $50 to you?), it isn't a fair overall trade.<

I failed to say that the Sharp I'm selling is 19" LC-HDTV and a "perk" Verizon FIOS threw into the stew to get me to switch from Comcast 3 years ago. I looked up comparables on eBay and today most are being sold for anywhere between $75 and $125. I am selling mine for $75. To date, I haven't received any offers - except for the guy who wants to trade me his Blu-Ray for it.

Just to confirm what you're saying: It sounds like I'd be better off declining this guy's proposal and get a more up-to-date Blu-Ray for under $100 at Best Buys, etc. Are you also saying that I don't need to pay extra on my Verizon bill to get an HD box installed in order to watch HD on my Toshiba 24" HD tv, but can watch Blu-Ray all the same without it?
If so, it sounds like it would really enhance our viewing experience for those movies and other programs formatted in Blu-Ray.

Last question: Presently are there programs in our TV listings that are Blu-Ray? And is "Blu-Ray Live" a feature you would have to pay a monthly subscription fee for?

Thanks again for shedding more light on the subject for me.

If the Sharp TV isn't worth a lot (and 19" TVs generally aren't - especially if it was a "gimme"), the trade isn't as bad, but it still isn't equivalent value from my perspective. That said, if you really want the player, it sounds like a way to get one for "free." I would still suggest though, as you alluded to, purchasing a more modern player if it's something you're interested in.

Regarding Blu-ray and Verizon - they're completely separate and unrelated things. Blu-ray is a media format, like DVD, or VHS, or Laserdisc, or CD; you have to buy physical media and an appropriate player to run that media. Verizon's HD service likely does require additional hardware, but that's completely unrelated (as it's broadcast television). There are no broadcast "Blu-ray" programs either (there are HD broadcasts though).

Blu-ray Live does not require any fees by itself, but it does require a high speed Internet connection (FIOS should most definitely qualify).

Here's more information about Blu-ray as a format, from HowStuffWorks:

Again, you can think of it as a better version of DVD, if that helps. It is unrelated to Verizon's service, and will not require any additional hardware or fees from Verizon.


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