It might seem ridiculous to consider buying a Blu-Ray here in 2020. The discs are expensive, take up space and can be damaged. Add to that, you can stream just about any movie or show that you want so long as you subscribe to a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, or you’re willing to rent or buy it on-demand from your cable provider. You might be surprised then that a recent report conducted by the NPD Group showed that a lot of people are actually still buying Blu-ray discs and Blu-Ray players. You might be tempted to think they’re all dinosaurs, but you know what? They’re actually onto something.
The quality of Blu-Ray is guaranteed. Streaming quality is not.
A Blu-Ray’s quality isn’t necessarily better than what you can stream these days. Most streaming services offer shows and movies in 4K resolution, and the newest streamers (like the Apple TV 4K and Xbox One X) are also able to play 4K content as well, which is the same as what you’ll get out of an Ultra HD Blu-ray (and which is better than an older HD Blu-ray). The difference is that a 4K stream requires a connection that is not only fast in general, but fast when you want to watch your movie. If your home’s internet speed and bandwidth aren’t up to snuff — or there is a lot of congestion in your region when you are looking to stream — your video might not be in its highest resolution or it might hit you with a bunch of pauses and load screens while you’re watching. A Blu-ray disc obviously doesn’t rely on the internet, so its quality is always perfect even if the internet is completely down.
A Blu-Ray is forever, and it comes with a digital copy too.
One of streaming’s biggest advantages is that it allows you to watch a movie or show pretty much anywhere you want and on any device. With physical media like a Blu-Ray or a DVD, you’re much more limited, needing both the disc and a media player to play it. A few years ago a bunch of Hollywood studios launched Movies Anywhere, a free movie streaming service (similar to Netflix) that lets you enter a redeem code that comes with a purchased Blu-rays and DVDs, and then you can watch that digital copy whenever you want.
Movies Anywhere also acts as a resting place for the movies and shows you’ve purchased from other streaming services, like iTunes, Amazon Video and Google Play, and aggregate them with the digital copies of your Blu-Rays or DVDs so that everything is in one place. Movies Anywhere is a free app that you can download on your iOS or Android devices; it’s also available on most smart TV platforms including Android TV, Chromecast, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
But best of all, if you have a physical Blu-Ray, you never have to worry about your favorite movies “leaving” the streaming service where you watch them. No matter what happens to the digital rights of your favorite film now or years in the future, you will be able to put your disc in a player and go. It’s a degree of security that the modern streaming world, for all its up-to-the-second convenience, just cannot match.
The analog experience is still king.
For the same reasons that people are still buying vinyl, CDs and cassette tapes, they’re also buying Blu-rays and DVDs — it’s the nostalgic analog experience. There’s nothing quite like taking a disc out of its case, placing it your media player and hearing (and watching) the technology work. It’s visceral. There’s also the fact that you feel more of an attachment to things that are tangible. When you’re able to hold a physical copy of something, whether that be a Blu-ray or a book, that ownership helps you form a sort of bond with the material that a digital copy can’t replicate. Whether that’s actually important to you personally may come down to a matter of taste, but you can’t argue that there are plenty of people who appreciate the appeal.