DVD vs Blu-ray vs Digital File: Which One Is Better for Movie Watching

[Latest Updated: Nov. 21, 2018 by May Watt to Tips & Glossary]

DVD vs. Blu-ray vs. Digital

Struggling with how to choose the best format to watch favorite movies/TV shows among DVD, Blu-ray and digital file? Here's review of DVD vs Blu-ray vs digital file comparison to help you make a decision.

Not only questioners, but ourselves fall into confusion whether it is better buy movies on DVD, Blu-ray or (HD) digital file online. It is known that Blu-ray costs more money but have far-preferable image and audio quality over DVD and digital file. On the other hand, digital file receives lots of votes for it can be played on portable devices anytime anywhere and has no restrictions. Well, this article presents review of DVD vs Blu-ray vs digital file comparison for reference to pick the best format for watching movies and TV shows.

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DVD vs Blu-ray vs Digital File Comparison

The biggest difference between DVD, Blu-ray and digital file is that DVD and Blu-ray are real discs while digital file is virtual goods. In the following, let's go to in-depth comparison of DVD vs Blu-ray vs digital file through their definitions and pros/cons for watching movies/TV shows.

DVD: DVD we usually mention is a DVD disc using DVD-video and DVD-audio formats to store video and audio, like MPEG-2 video up to 9.8 Mbit/s and Dolby Digital (AC3) audio up to 448 kbit/s for commercial DVD movies/TV shows. There are two dominated DVD video standards NTSC (720/704X480 pixels at a display rate of 29.97 frames per second) and PAL (720/704X576 pixels at a display rate of 25 frames per second). >> NTSC vs. PAL

Basically, there are restrictions for protecting DVD copyright, CSS, Region codes, UOP and other special securities (Sony ARccOS, Disney X-project etc.). DVD can be played with DVD players, DVD-ROM drive on computer and video game DVDs can be played on game consoles, such as Sony PlayStation series, Microsoft Xbox series.

* It is cheaper to get (either purchase or rent) than Blu-ray and HD digital file.
* DVD can be sold if you don't like or want to have this movie any more.

* It has lower video quality than Blu-ray and HD digital release.
* It cannot be directly watched on phones/tablets (unless you rip DVD to a digital file).
* It is fragile to be scratched or broken unless under extremely careful protection.

Blu-ray: Successor to DVD, this DVD format is capable of storing high-definition video with up to 1920X1080 resolution at 24 frames per second, 16:9 aspect ratio and 54 Mbit/s bit rate for movie. Comparable to MPEG-2, H.264 becomes modern video format used by Blu-ray to reduce cost, improve ease of use and free storage for bonus contents, which may be encoded in different format (MPEG-2 as example). Blu-ray uses 7 primary audio format, lossy Dolby Digital (AC3), DTS, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD and lossless Linear PCM, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio. The encryptions of Blu-ray include DRM, AACS and region codes which are verified by player software not optical drive (for DVD region codes).

* Blu-ray has superior audio and video quality than DVD and digital release. Even HD digital offers the same resolution as Blu-ray, but more compression used for delivering contents over internet.
* It offers bonus contents, a digital copy of movie, games, BD-Live interaction content etc.
* Blu-ray is cheaper to rent than to purchase HD digital file and can be sold as DVD.

* Blu-ray player, HDTV or Blu-ray drive and special software on computer are needed to deliver stunning video and audio. Otherwise, there is no difference with playing a standard DVD.
* It cannot be directly watched on portable devices.
* It is fragile to be scratched or broken unless under extremely careful protection.

Digital file: Digital release of movies and TV shows are popular today, which can be accessed from iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Vudu, YouTube etc, for they can be watched on a diverse of devices, PC, Mac, Apple/Android/Windows mobiles, Xbox and so on by downloading or streaming. At present, HD digital has been released reading 1080p resolution as Blu-ray. Unlike DVD and Blu-ray protected by region codes, digital release is available to everybody and restrictions-free.

* HD digital release has higher quality than standard DVD and the same video quality as Blu-ray.
* You can download digital movies/TV shows (offline) or stream (online) from lots of websites for playback on PC/Mac/mobiles.
* Digital release is available to everybody and restrictions-free.

* It may not deliver HD quality if devices only supporting standard definition videos.
* Sometimes, not all episodes of TV shows are provided online so that an alternative way is necessary for enjoying whole TV show.

Bottom Line

Blu-ray has better audio/video quality than DVD and digital but needs more money and specific devices or software to play, for example Blu-ray player, Blu-ray drive on computer, HDTV.

DVD discs are cheaper and easier to access, play.

Digital movies and TV shows can be downloaded and streamed to computer/smartphones/tablets directly but rely on internet. Sometimes, the downloaded HD digital movies, TV shows may be in other formats, like MKV incompatible with portable devices and a video converter is probably in need for smooth playback on phones or tablets.

In a nutshell, the answer to which format is best for watching movies/TV shows depends on your needs, to pursue the highest video/audio quality or to have a movie/TV show enjoyment on any devices with no limitations.

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About the Author

   May Watt@may_w1209

May Watt is a member of Digiarty. She offers a bunch of tips of how to handle multimedia files (DVD, video files, music etc.) and keeps her focus on tech news about Apple, Google, GoPro, Drone and more.

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