Blu-ray players are the next generation of home entertainment, with a sharper HD picture and the ability to incorporate more interactive features than previously possible with standard DVDs and DVD players. Still, though Blu-ray discs are needed to get the most out of your player, don't get rid of your DVD collection yet, Blu-ray is designed to play standard DVDs as well.
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Blu-ray players and discs were introduced to the U.S. marketplace in mid-2006. The name comes from the blue laser used to read the discs, as opposed to the red laser of standard DVD. Single layer Blu-ray discs can hold 25 GB of data, five to 10 times greater that that of DVDs.
Blu-ray players were designed to be backward compatible, meaning they can play standard DVDs and CDs. Manufacturers knew people would be adverse to purchase the new format if it meant making their DVD collection obsolete.
The compatibility between Blu-ray and DVD only works one way--standard DVD players do not have the capability to play Blu-ray discs, though JVC is working on a disc that can play in regular DVD players, but still have an HD version for Blu-ray.
Current models of Sony's PlayStation video game systems are produced with Blu-ray technology, making them able to play Blu-ray and standard DVDs along with the HD-quality video games.
Blu-ray players also have the ability to "upconvert" regular DVDs, providing a better picture when connected to an HDTV than when played by a standard DVD player, though still not at Blu-ray quality.