Video technology has seen significant advancements and improvements in quality over the years. With the amount of different hardware and software choices available, it can be a bit confusing deciding what's best.
We all want a balance of quality and convenience when it comes to watching our favourite shows and movies. So as 4K and Ultra HD progresses, it's only fair to ask, are discs or streaming services better? Turns out a number of things can influence this decision.
4K streaming is extremely good. In technical terms, you get four times the pixels of a Full HD 1080p resolution, 8.3m pixels to be exact. With remarkable sharpness and clarity, it's hard not to love 4K. However, as with streaming any video, it comes with some downsides, including higher compression and low bitrates.
Comparing 1080p Blu-Ray to 4K streaming, the colours are richer and more sold. You might not get the sharpness of a quality stream, but you're getting maximum resolution the minute your video begins. Then we come to 4K on disc which is an entirely different story. The video quality of UHD Blu-Ray is exponentially better than 4K streaming and normal Blu-Ray. The picture is crisp and has astonishing clarity. One of the best things about UHD Blu-Ray is the high dynamic range which strengthens colour range, contrast and brightness, to name a few. The picture you get is simply gorgeous.
Blu-Ray 1080p Blu-Ray UHD
This is an area where streaming is not the front runner. Most people who use streaming services do not watch videos using a surround sound system. Those streaming tend to get compressed Dolby Digital Plus, and while there are a few titles that offer it in 7.1, it's mostly a 5.1.
With Blu-Ray you're getting uncompressed Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio, regularly in 7.1. The scale, detail and dynamic range on a Blu-Ray disc is more intense, offering a far more cinematic experience. Comparing regular to 4K Blu-Ray, the nuances in sound quality is hard to differentiate.
Many of us are quite happy to sacrifice quality for convenience, and with the instant and expansive access you get with streaming, it makes up for its minor downfalls. Not only do you have access to more titles than you could fit in a bookshelf, but streaming services are far cheaper than buying individual discs and forking out for a Blu-Ray player.
However, Blu-Ray and 4K Blu-Ray aren't accompanied with issues associated with Wi-Fi, such as bandwith caps set by internet providers. Blu-Ray sources provide a robust system that always performs to a high standard, independent of factors such as stormy weather conditions and the number of people online.
So what's the verdict?
While some of us might prefer the pride in ownership that comes with building a Blu-Ray collection, others might just consider convenience and cost and choose 4K streaming. While each of these sources has differences in content, picture and sound quality, individual preferences matter when picking a favourite. It all boils down to what's most important to you.