The streaming world is blowing up. The options are plentiful with Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney + all offering great 4K titles. You can also purchase great movies from iTunes and Google Play. Each of these have amazing video options with 4K / Dolby Vision and many titles have Dolby Atmos Height enabled audio. So why would anyone bother purchasing a physical Blu-Ray or 4K disc? Let me tell you.
Now I will be the first admit that the convenience of streaming and buying digital media is tough to argue with. I will state however that if you are going to purchase a movie, that purchasing the disc is still by far the best way to go.
The best way to describe the difference in picture is to use the analogy of painting a wall. You need a certain amount of paint to cover a certain amount of surface area properly (regardless of the quality of the paint). Covering a large room would be tough if you only had 1 can of paint. A smaller room would be easier and may even be able to do a second or third coat. Video works the same way. The more information you have coming out of your source (Blu-Ray/4k player or streaming device), the better that information will fill the space in your TV or projector. You need more information/data to cover a larger screen surface. Netflix and Apple TV 4K require 25 Mbps (megabits per second) in order to stream 4K content. This number is be fine for a TV that is a normal size of 42”-55”. Once you get in to larger screens or projectors at 120”, that 25 Mbps gets spread pretty thin. A 4K Blu-Ray disc transfers at 128 Mbps. In this case you are getting over 5 times the amount of data or ‘paint’ to cover your surface with. The colour tones, the sharpness and the dynamic range are all filled with substance and it is very noticeable.
For the audio comparison we are going to use the analogy of a garden hose. A Dolby Atmos track on Netflix or Apple TV transmits anywhere from 448 kbps (kilobits per second) to 768 kbps. If you are using the speakers on your TV then this will do just fine. Your garden hose is running water no problem. If however, you have invested in a receiver, separate speakers and a subwoofer you will notice that your sound is lacking a certain depth or ‘punch’ if you will. A Blu-Ray 4K disc can max out at 18,000 kbps of audio data being sent through your sound system. This is the equivalent of hooking your garden hose up to a pressure washer. You will instantly notice more depth in voices as well as enhanced depth in surround effects and deeper / more accurate bass response.
There is a misconception out there that not only is digital more convenient but also less money; So let’s break this down.
There is no doubt that renting digital copies of movies is not only easier but the only option with he disappearance of renting movies at Rogers or Blockbuster. Although purchasing these titles is super convenient, there is a lot of value purchasing the actual disc. These movies give you the digital copy as well as the capability to enjoy the movie to its fullest potential with the actual disc.