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Five Things You Don't Know About Blu-ray

With Blu-ray players more affordable than ever, there's no reason to spend an arm and a leg to get a theater-quality experience in your living room. Blu-ray players allow you to do all of that and more.

1. You don't have to throw away your DVD collection.

You've been building your DVD library for years and don't want to let all that time and money go to waste—fair enough. Not only can you keep those cherished films, but you'll be able to give them a much-improved second life thanks to a Blu-ray player. In fact, Blu-ray players up-convert DVDs, meaning you'll get to see your all-time favorite movies with improved picture and audio quality nearing HD levels. Thanks to the player's ability to sharpen the picture's resolution, scenes appear clearer and free of the dust and darkness that sometimes make it difficult to enjoy older films. That's right—you don't even need to have Blu-ray media to utilize a Blu-ray player. Win-win.

2. It's the smartest "smart" option.

Are you lost without your Netflix account? Maybe you need Hulu Plus to wind down after a long day's work. A smart Blu-ray player will allow you to make the most of your subscriptions to those services, while still rediscovering those cult films you love. And if you don't think you can quite afford a smart TV, you can easily transform any regular HDTV into a smart one with an Internet-ready Blu-ray player. Get excited, because the days of watching Netflix on your tablet while that big screen collects dust are finally over.

3. Enjoying your home movies has never been easier.

So you've just had the most amazing vacation...ever. As usual, it was way too short, and the only thing keeping you from going into an utter post-vacation meltdown is reliving those good times by watching your videos and photos. Or perhaps you're just feeling nostalgic for the good old days and long to dig out some home movies. It's simpler than ever with a Blu-ray player, and you won't need to fool around with any messy cables (remember those?). Getting your photo and video collection onto your TV is as simple as taking these three easy steps. First, take the photos and videos on your computer and save them to a USB drive. Second, plug the USB into your Blu-ray player's USB input—a common feature in most models. Third, make some popcorn and relax.

4. It's the new home stereo.

Looking for the perfect playlist for that big themed party you're throwing? How frustrating is it that you hardly ever get to listen to that great music now stuck on old, maybe even scratched, CDs. You might still listen to your iTunes, but let's face it, you're now mainly tuning into streaming services such as Pandora. You love these services which allow you to discover new music, but what about all of those groovy old tunes you invested in? You can actually solve this problem by upgrading your old boom box or outdated stereo equipment to a (drum roll) Blu-ray. And just like that, not only will you rediscover all of that music you thought you'd lost, but with its sophisticated lasers, Blu-ray will play your old and forgotten CDs (scratched and all) with clearer sound. Most Blu-ray players have a stereo output, so you won't even need to invest in a surround-sound system to utilize your music, either. Plus, with an Internet-ready Blu-ray player, you can still access your Pandora or Spotify accounts. What more can you ask for to create the ideal party playlist?

5. You can lower your on-demand bill.

This all must be extremely expensive, right? Wrong. With your smart Blu-ray player, you can rent all-time classics as well as new releases through your cable provider's on-demand service for a reasonable price using services like the Sony Entertainment Network, VUDU, and Amazon Instant Video. Not only that, but as more movies and TV shows become readily accessible via streaming, a Blu-ray player allows you to binge-watch your favorites whenever you want, disc or no disc.