It is hard to admit that our middle daughter and her husband were the ones to introduce us to our first real experience with a Blu-ray player. I, in turn, introduced them to the Redbox service, which they continue to enjoy. The first movie I watched was played on their new Samsung Blu-ray player and then displayed on their new Samsung LED HDTV that my son-in-law had purchased to replace his old DLP HDTV. What was surprising to me at the time was that, despite their recent purchases, they had not taken advantage of them by renting a Blu-ray movie. That fact led to a conversation with my daughter who stated that, on a recent airline flight, she had seen the movieĀ The Town with Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner. She stated that she had really enjoyed the movie and thought we would as well, so I asked her where the nearest Redbox location was located. It surprised me to learn that she had never used the service, so I went online to set up an account for her. Luckily, the local Redbox had the movie The Town and it was in Blu-ray.

(If you are not familiar with the Redbox service or haven’t used it for a while, it may surprise you to learn that you can now reserve a movie online and that it will be held for you at the desired Redbox location. The one caveat you need to be aware of is that you must use the same credit card at the Redbox location that you used to place your order online — meaning that if you need someone to pick it up for you, they need to have your credit card or a companion card with the same number.)

Later that evening, after picking up the movie, we were in for a treat. Not only was the movie great, but the picture quality was superb. In fact, my wife and I put a Blu-ray player on our list of must-haves once we saw that the clarity of the picture made us feel that we could actually reach in and touch the actors.

Why You Still Want a Blu-ray PlayerThis Christmas, we decided to indulge ourselves by purchasing our newest and, as of today, greatest toy. Of course, it helped us make the decision when we received an alert from Decide.com that Amazon was selling the Samsung BD-D5700ZA for only $99.72, with no tax and free shipping. My new toy arrived on December 23, 2011, and while I was anxious to set it up, I waited until Christmas Day since a buddy of mine wanted to help set it up. With his experience and help, setup was a breeze, taking less than 30 minutes including network setup, registration, firmware, and software updates. We were then able to pop in the movie Captain America and I was amazed at how eye-catching the picture was despite it being played on my older 720p plasma HDTV.

What I quickly learned the next day, however, were that other treats awaited me including support for Netflix and Hulu Plus, which made for a pleasant surprise. Mildly disappointing, however, was that the Blu-ray doesn’t support my Roku’s Amazon Prime account. That isn’t too much of a problem, though, since Samsung offers hundreds of different apps., some free and some paid, which I will be exploring over the 2012 New Year’s weekend.

So, if you are like me, you are probably asking yourself why you need a Blu-ray player especially since your old DVD is working and meeting your needs. And if I were still using an SD television hooked to my DVD player, I would have to agree with this assessment. However, if you have just gotten a new HDTV for Christmas or have one sitting in your home, you need to take the time to view the difference in picture quality. Best Buy, or any other electronics-oriented store, will be only too happy to demonstrate how a movie plays on Blu-ray. However, unless you can see it simultaneously with a movie played on DVD, it may be hard to get the most out of the experience.

Another advantage to upgrading to a Blu-ray player is that Redbox is starting to offer more and more new releases on Blu-ray and can be rented for a mere $1.50 a night. I believe this is a very good deal, for those of us on a fixed income or those wishing to watch their cash outflow, since cable and satellite providers charge double or triple that amount for an evening’s rental. Additionally, while cable movies cannot show you a movie with Blu-ray clarity, your Blu-ray player will up-convert a standard DVD to 720p. This increase in resolution is quite noticeable when the two are compared by viewing the same content.

I have verified my assumptions in my own home due to the fact that it’s equipped with a home theater system with a combo amplifier / 5 DVD player. I am using the amplifier in conjunction with my HDTV, Roku, and now with the new Blu-ray player. With this technology I was able to, several evenings ago, play the movie Avatar on both the DVD player and Blu-ray player, making it obvious that the Blu-ray’s quality was far superior.

At this time, however, I would like to note the following comment from one of the management team here at Lockergnome. He states:

I’m probably a hard sell in this market because I went from being a huge acquirer of DVD media to owning virtually no discs of any kind, in large part because my Comcast connection plus my Xbox replaced the need for having things on a disc. More recently I dumped cable because I wasn’t watching it, but haven’t found a need to fill the gap with Blu-ray because Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes have all the entertainment I need. So having those features is important to some of us.

I had to admit, on reading this, that I have also been contemplating the exact same thing and plan on eliminating my satellite service once my contract has expired. I recently wrote an article about my intention to build and use a homemade antenna system to receive over-the-air broadcasting.

I made this decision when I saw the clarity of over-the-air broadcasting on my friend’s HDTVs. This was the carrot that convinced me I could live comfortably while eliminating my satellite provider. However, this decision also influenced my decision to get a Blu-ray player since there are stations that my wife and I would like to receive outside of the locals. To get these stations, I therefore opted to replace my older laptop system with one that supported Blu-ray and also had 720p support along with having an HDMI output. Purchasing this system allows us to enjoy programming from cable networks like TNT, A&E, Lifetime, History, and others that my wife and I enjoy watching. I also wrote an article about the new laptop system I received and that I will be reviewing next week.

So why will you still want a Blu-ray player? At around $100, the price point for this Blu-ray player is very reasonable. The unit I purchased came with wireless connectivity, USB port, HDMI, component connections, as well as, digital audio out. The unit can also be hard-wired to your network if need be. Additionally, the remote is full featured and provides the user with an ample assortment of controls to access all of the additional features that come with Samsung”s solid foundation of applications including two of the most popular: Netflix and Hulu Plus. For those of you who prefer to listen to music while you work or to just have it as an option, one of the available applications includes Pandora, (another of my favorites).

But the single most important reason — and the answer to my boss’ question — is that in a household composed of numerous individuals, one or more of these people can use the gaming console to play games on, while someone else can watch a Blu-ray movie, Netflix, Hulu Plus, or other programming on the Blu-ray player attached to their HDTV.

Comments welcome.