What to look for in a Blu-Ray player

(KHNL) - Do you remember the first time you saw a movie on DVD? It was a big improvement over VHS, right? Well you can have that feeling again with Blu-ray, the latest high quality video format for home theater systems.

If you already have a high definition television then getting a Blu-ray player is a no-brainer. It takes advantage of your TV's capability to display stunning video to improve your home theater experience. However there are many brands and players to choose from. What should you look for?

Most Blu-ray players are identical, only some have more features than others. Other than playing DVD movies, those added features may only make sense depending on how you want to use your system. If you're only interested in watching Blue-ray discs and DVD's then any player will do. However you unusually get what you pay for. Well known brands such as Sony, Samsung and Panasonic will generally perform well in the long run, interface better with your television and provide years of quality service.

A good example of a "fully loaded" Blue-ray Player is the Samsung GD-P4600. It's unique design makes it easy to wall mount and keep your entertainment system clutter free. Not only does it play Blu-ray disks and DVD's, but can use your home's wired or wireless Internet connection to stream free music from Pandora.com and watch Netflix movies on demand.

It also supports a feature called BD-Live, something not available on all Blu-ray players. This allows the unit to download additional content for the movie you're watching and have access to features beyond what came with the disc. For example, for the new Batman movie "The Dark Night" BD Live users can record their own video commentary by attaching a webcam to their Blu-ray player. Then anyone else who owns the movie on Blu-ray can view that commentary while watching the film. BD Live is available on many Blu-ray titles and continuously gives you a new experience with each film as new features are always being added.

In summary, if you already have a flat screen or high definition TV then adding a Blu-ray player to your home theater is a worthwhile investment. Since all Blu-ray players can also play DVD's and CD's, they can replace the DVD portion of your current system. Most will even upconvert your standard DVD videos to 1080p so they look even better than before. Regardless of which model you choose, be sure to check regularly for software updates to ensure that the latest discs are compatible with your player. Although Blu-ray players are not cheap, they have come down significantly in price and can entertain your family for years to come.