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Are Blue-Rays Better Than Downloads?

Are Blue-Rays Better Than Downloads?

One of the biggest questions movie fans face today is whether they want to create a physical or digital movie set. We will explore the key speaking points for each option to help you answer this question yourself.

We often refer to 4K Blue-Rays and iTunes movie downloads because they are so popular. But we do the same for other physical disks and digital stores.

Physics and Digital Movies: Video and Audio Quality

A roll in which the film collapses

Most movies are available in 4K video with some kind of Dolby Surround sound for both Physics Blu-ray purchases and Digital iTunes purchases. If you think video and audio quality are the same in both formats you will be mistaken.

Movies from iTunes and other digital stores do not match the quality you receive with 4K Blu-ray.

Typically, a Blu-ray movie takes up about 25GB to 35GB of storage. This is too much data for most people to stream or download using iTunes, so Apple shrinks movies to one tenth of that size.

Apple’s summary is very good – you still get 4K definition and high quality audio and you lose some details compared to 4K Blu-ray. This is most evident in dark images and color gradients, where abstraction results in flattened textures or banding.

The same goes for audio, where Blu-rays provide lossless audio quality and a much wider dynamic range than you get through iTunes.

However, just because Blu-rays offer higher video and audio quality than iTunes does not mean you will actually notice a difference.

Digital iTunes movies still look fantastic, and most people have to make direct comparisons using expensive home theater equipment to find any differences between the two formats.

Digital Movies vs. Physics: Facility

Digital Movie Collection on iPod

Many people enjoy creating a collection of physics movies. They stack entire bookshelves with blue-rays, which act as a monument to their love of film. When you can’t fit in your latest purchase the Blue-Rays bookcase will quickly become an obstacle or you need to find a way to move it to a new home and save it.

Digital movies are not affected by any of these issues.

A digital movie takes up no space and if you do not download all your movies, you do not need any digital storage to stream it. What’s more, all your movies will always be with you and you can get them online from anywhere in the world.

No need to wake up to disk replacement in Blu-ray player. If you want to watch a digital movie, all you have to do is select it in your library and tap Play. Waiting for the download or stream buffer to set up is sure to cause some delays, but it’s much faster than changing the disk and waiting for the Blu-ray to load.

Physics vs. Digital Movies: Availability

Physics movies in a store

Not only is it quicker to watch a digital movie compared to a physical movie, but it is also quicker to buy one. Almost every movie you want to watch is available for instant purchase on iTunes.

Conversely, to buy a physics movie, you have to put it in an online queue and wait for delivery or get your shoes and go to the stores. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person.

If a movie is a few years old, you may struggle to find a new copy copy of it, but iTunes will never run out of stock.

Occasionally, you will find a movie that is not available in digital stores like almost every studio Kipli movie. But for the most part, digital movies are much easier to find than physical movies.

Studio Kipli-Pictures

If you look at sales, even digital movies can snatch big deals.

On the other hand, if you are happy with buying pre-owned Blu-rays, you can save even more money by looking for a second hand market that is not possible for digital movies.

Physics vs. Digital Movies: Bonus Features

ITunes Movie Extra Page

You can get bonus features with physical and digital movie purchases. However, you will get more bonus features through Blu-ray than you get through iTunes and other digital stores. This is especially true for commentary tracks, which seem to be a rarity for digital movie purchases.

Of course, this will vary for the film.

If you are interested in bonus features, you should always check what you get on the back of the Blu-ray box or in the iTunes Extras section of the iTunes Store. It is common for the best bonus features to be reserved for special edition releases, which usually cost more than the standalone movie.

It is common for special edition releases to be released by default only.

Not everyone cares about bonus features, but if you are a movie fan who wants to start a lifetime set, they are definitely the ones to think about.

It is also worth remembering that one of the most common “bonus features” for blue-rays is actually the digital download code. So if you choose what you buy wisely, it is completely possible to avoid having to choose between physical and digital movies.

Digital Movies vs. Physics: Future-Verification

VHS tape with player and remote

As technology advances, we will see new advances in film formats. Already, movies have switched from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray. Each time, it leads people to recreate their collections from scratch. This is only a matter of time until we see a similar change from Blu-ray.

It’s true that change is only a matter of time, but when that happens, you will no longer notice your Blu-ray collection.

In contrast, as 4K became more popular, Apple upgraded thousands of movies in its library from HD to 4K. If you already have one of these movies, Apple has upgraded you to 4K for free.

Apple is not the only retailer to do this, as Google has upgraded people’s movies to 4K.

Free updates are not going to happen again in the future, but they may happen. Whereas you can definitely not upgrade a Blu-ray collection for free.

As we talk about checking your movie collection in the future, it is worth mentioning the rights as well.

As a lot of people want to point out, when you buy a digital movie, what you actually buy is a license to watch that movie through that digital store. For example, if Apple loses the right to distribute a particular movie, it will disappear from your library, no matter how much you pay for it. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen occasionally.

With Blu-ray, you can always see whose rights you have. But as time goes on, you have to worry about keeping your blue-rays at work. Any problem from itching to wet flooding can stop your blue-rays from working.

Related: How to fix common CD, DVD and Blu-ray drive errors

An added bonus of Apple owning all your movies is that it is Apple’s responsibility to keep them in action. You can count on Apple to keep backups of all movie files on its servers, but not to manually back up your Blu-ray collection.

How to choose between physical and digital movies

If you are still struggling to decide between a physical and digital film set, here are some hard and fast rules to help.

Then select the physics movie set:

  • You want the highest quality picture and sound.

  • You want to show your movies in your home for everyone to see.

  • You want to save money by buying and selling second hand blue-rays.

  • You should see all the bonus features and listen to all the comments.

Choose a digital movie set from:

  • You don’t want to dedicate space to hundreds of Blu-ray boxes.

  • You want to be able to switch between movies instantly without changing the disk.

  • You want to access your entire movie collection anywhere, on any device.

  • You want to buy and watch almost any movie without going anywhere.

We have provided a comprehensive overview of all the major talking points when comparing physical and digital movies. However, as you can see, there is no clear winner. The debate intensifies, and it is up to you to choose where your priorities are.

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