Despite Netflix Streaming, Blu-ray and DVD Still Make Sense
"The Dark Knight Rises FX" app syncs with the Blu-ray version of the movie to offer additional content.
CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures
As Netflix's streaming video outage on Christmas Eve showed, moving solely to online entertainment can leave you looking for a good book to read. That may be one of the reasons that people continue to buy Blu-ray discs and DVDs.
Despite industry predictions that discs would go the way of VHS tapes, research firm Nielsen reported that 37 percent of Black Friday shoppers bought a movie on a disc, while 13 percent opted to purchase download or streaming versions of movies. In fact, Blu-ray sales were up 13 percent in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the same time in 2011, according to industry association Digital Entertainment Group (DEG).
New features entice viewers
Most Blu-ray players offer the best of both worlds by incorporating Wi-Fi connections and apps for accessing streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. "Connected" models from companies like Sony, Panasonic and Samsung often sell for less than $100 — even for some that can play 3D movies. The units can also play DVDs and CDs.
Many Blu-ray discs now support UltraViolet, a technology that provides a code for accessing an online copy of the movie or show. Once you've got the video in your UltraViolet account, you can stream it or download it to play on your computer or mobile device.
UltraViolet files include digital rights management technology, however, which means you don't have free reign. For example, UltraViolet's site indicates that while you can stream a movie, you might have access to the streaming version for only a year after you activate the code.
Some movies, like "The Dark Knight Rises," also offer free "second screen" apps that tie in to what you watch on disc. If you download the app to your tablet and sync it when you play the movie, you can get extras like behind-the-scenes videos and blueprints of the Batcave. [See also: Choosing the Right Home Theater]
Streaming video offers a good compromise of cost (an all-you-can watch Netflix plan costs $8 a month) and convenience, with access to thousands of movies and TV shows at any time. But for the time being, discs remain a big part of home entertainment.