Video technology is better than ever before, and the number of hardware and software choices available is quite staggering. However, in the age of streaming, is there any good reason why one should still opt for an old-fashioned disc?
You might be surprised to know that 4k and Blu-ray discs — and even DVDs — are still sold in modestly high numbers. While Blu-ray discs were especially designed to replace their predecessors, 4k has currently become the dominant standard for high-definition viewing.
Neo-Online provides a detailed comparison of them below.
What Is Blu-Ray?
Blu-ray is a digital optical disc that is used for data storage. Designed by Sony and its partners, it replaced the DVD format when it was released in the market. A high-quality Blu-ray disc is capable of storing high-definition videos (in 720p and 1080p). It is also used to store video games by PlayStation and Xbox. The large storage capacity is due to its shorter-wavelength blue laser, as opposed to the longer-wavelength red laser of DVDs.
What Is 4K?
The latest and most sophisticated disc format up till now, 4k refers to any resolution with a 4000 horizontal pixel count. It uses a new video codec, HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding), to provide better compression than Blu-ray.
Different 4k resolutions are now commonly used for digital television and cinematography. 3480×2160 is mostly used in television and consumer media, whereas 4096×2160 is used in the movie production industry.
It has gotten more popular in recent years due to the widespread use of 4k streaming on a smart TV or through streaming devices like Apple TV, Chromecast etc.
Major Differences Between Blu-Ray and 4k
Up to 25 GB of data can be stored on a single layer Blu-ray disc, and about 50 GB on a dual-layer disc. That is around 5 times more storage capacity of a DVD.
On the other hand, 4k UHD discs come in three sizes: 50 GB, 66 GB and 100 GB.
4k UHD has a maximum video bitrate of 128 Mbps, in contrast to 40 Mbps of Blu-ray — meaning it has remarkable clarity and much richer colours, providing an immersive viewing experience.
The sound quality is uncompressed when it comes to both Blu-ray and 4k UHD. In fact, most 4k UHD discs now support Dolby sound, Dolby Atmos and DTS.
A complete set of 4k equipment, including the discs, television/monitor and player, can be quite expensive. On the other hand, Blu-ray discs are much cheaper, and more variety (including both old classics and new releases) can also be found in this format.
While Blu-ray disc players are not able to play 4k UHD discs, 4k UHD players can play all formats.
Video game consoles like Playstation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 or Xbox one can also play Blu-ray discs. Current-generation gaming consoles, like Playstation 5 or Xbox Series S or X, can play 4k UHD discs.
In a Nutshell
The following table outlines the main differences between Blu-ray and 4k discs.
||Up to 100 GB|
|Video Quality||1920×1080 resolution||3480×2160 resolution|
|Video Codecs||H.264, MPEG-2 Part2, VC-1, H.264 MVC (3D)||H.265, VP9|
|Audio Channels||Up to 8||Up to 32|
|Laser Technology||Blue laser (405 nm)||Blue laser (405 nm)|
Similar to how vinyl records and top-quality CDs manage to coexist, Blu-Ray and 4k UHD discs can also stay in the market simultaneously. Hence, even though 4k is the presiding format in the high-resolution market, it does not make Blu-ray obsolete.