Whenever new technology comes along, we get caught up in the excitement of the new offering and then almost immediately turn our thoughts to what we could possibly see next.

First it was video, then we saw the future with DVD, and then Blu-ray came along shortly after as its higher tech sibling. But what's next after the Blu-ray? Is there a worthy competitor to its crown of being the ultimate in home entertainment?

The growth of streaming

Blu-ray (PD)Many have decried Blu-rays in recent months as a result of the boom in online streaming activities. Discs seem to be becoming less desirable as websites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer allow us to catch up with great films and television with a couple of clicks. While this method is quick and easy and doesn't clutter up your house with multiple disc cases, it doesn't necessarily mean that Blu-ray's demise should be announced – in fact, quite the contrary.

Blu-rays still offer some fantastic features. For example, extras available on the disc format tend not to be found through streaming websites. Those that love to check out the director's cut, the outtakes, or a "Making of…" documentary simply can't do so through online channels. The Blu-ray is more than just the film itself, it also offers an amazing range of additional content.

Furthermore, a Blu-ray player is a great way to stream TV and movies through a bigger screen than your laptop and hence enjoy enhanced picture quality. For example, the impressive Toshiba BDX5500KB Blu-ray comes with built-in WiFi, which means that you can use it to get the shows and movies you want to watch straight to your TV.

Improved TV quality

The launch of new Ultra HD TVs onto the market might have put people off buying Blu-rays exclusively. Offering up to four times the quality of HD, the need for higher picture definition on Blu-rays might not seem as necessary thanks to the images these new TVs kick out.

However, the two actually work in harmony for fantastic pictures. A Blu-ray player with Ultra HD capabilities used with a 4K TV will help to boost picture quality. Playing a regular DVD or watching a show through your new, high-definition TV will certainly help to increase the clarity and colour, however using a TV and an Ultra-HD Blu-ray player together is the only way to get the pinnacle picture quality on the small screen.

Improved value

As with any new technology, Blu-rays were seen as expensive when they were first released. Many consumers couldn't yet see the benefit of switching from cheaper, more accessible DVDs to the next level in home entertainment. However, as Blu-rays have become more common on the market, the values have started to drop. For example, you can pick up a great Blu-ray player for around £50 on sites like Amazon. Some of these will even have DVD compatibility, meaning you can enjoy both forms of hardware.
It might seem exactly like the time when you made the switch from video to DVD; once you discover the impressive quality of Blu-ray over its predecessor – it's unlikely you'll ever go back.

So has the Blu-ray really had its day? Not just yet. As long as players continue to boast impressive features, and discs are stocked with a whole range of extras, it's unlikely they'll be going anywhere for a while.

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