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Can You Play a Blu-Ray Disc on a Regular DVD Player?

Once the media playback device of choice, top-quality DVDs were introduced in 1995 with improved video and sound quality as well as extra storage. They effectively replaced CDs in the market until Blu-ray technology was developed and released in 2006, which ushered in a new era of home entertainment. With a capacity of up to 25 GB — as opposed to 4.7 GB in DVDs — it is capable of storing high-definition videos (in 720p and 1080p). 

Even though Blu-ray has largely been overshadowed in the current age of online streaming, it is far from becoming obsolete. Blu-ray discs are still used for storage, and sometimes the fluctuating speeds of internet connections make it easier to install a file from a disc instead. 

So where can you watch a Blu-ray movie? Do you need a specific player for it or is it compatible with most players? Neo-Online addresses these questions below.

 

How Does Blu-Ray Work?

The high visual and audio fidelity experienced with Blu-ray is attributed to the way the players read data from the disc with the use of blue/violet laser (hence, the name) of 405-nanometer wavelength. Data is stored on the disc in microscopic ‘pits’ and the laser emits a light beam to read all the embedded video and audio information. 

Image of Blu Ray linked page

Why DVD Players Can’t Play Blu-Ray

To address the question at hand, DVD players are, in fact, unable to play Blu-ray discs. It is due to the same reason why a CD player can’t play DVDs — the formats are incompatible. 

This is due to differences in technology. The grooves and pits in DVDs, where data is stored, are much larger and wider than those on Blu-ray discs. DVD players use red laser technology (of 650-nm wavelength) to scan that information on the disc. However, the red laser cannot read the vast amount of data compressed onto a Blu-ray disc as that function only requires the blue laser of shorter wavelength. If inserted into a DVD player, a Blu-ray video will just be choppy or the disc might not even be recognised. 

On the other hand, Blu-ray players are usually built with both red and blue lasers, enabling them to play Blu-ray discs, DVDs and CDs. This is because, when there are technological advancements, they are backwards compatible. This means that the manufacturers designed the new Blu-ray players in such a way that it is able to support older formats. They can scan DVDs to simulate HD quality. 

 

What You Can Do

 

picture of a CD Player

 

So does that mean your old DVD player is useless now? Surprisingly, no. Although DVD players are not equipped to support Blu-ray technology, there are still some possible solutions to make this happen. 

For instance, up-to-date DVD players usually come with USB inputs so that flash drives (that have media files) can easily be inserted. In this manner, you can access the files through the device’s main menu, and view them on the screen. Thus, you can transcode Blu-ray into a digital format (that is supported by the DVD player) and then watch the ripped Blu-ray movies from the USB flash drive on the DVD player. This digitisation of Blu-ray files also allows you to save up on storage space and avoid the risk of your discs getting damaged or broken.

It is important to read the manual of your particular DVD player beforehand so you are aware of all technical specifications, including its compatible formats. For example, most DVD players accept MPEG-2 in a standard VOB format, while others can play MPEG-4 videos. Secondly, any 4k MKV files cannot be played on DVD players. Plus, AVI files can only be played if they have been encoded with another codec, such as Divx, WMV, Xvid etc. 

You can find many third-party Blu-ray ripping and converting softwares online. All you would need is a computer device with a disc drive that can read Blu-ray discs. 

 

The Bottom Line

It should be noted that you cannot expect the same audio and visual clarity of a high-quality Blu-ray disc from a compressed Blu-ray file on a DVD player. In addition, Blu-ray disc players have become much cheaper now, so you can invest in one if you are not willing to go through the hassle of watching a Blu-ray disc on a DVD player. There are a wide range of Blu-ray devices that are available in the market, made by Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, Pioneer, LG, Dell, HP etc. 

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