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Are 4K Blu-rays Better Than Streaming?

by Ronald Elias

You’ve got your new 4K TV, you’ve got your 4K Blu-ray player -- what’s next?

Well, not only are you about to enjoy movies in stunning 4K resolution, you might be trying to decide how you are going to watch said movies. As more and more people turn to streaming options, they often ask us about those. What’s the point of Blu-rays, or a Blu-ray player, if Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ can broadcast in 4K? Is physical 4K media even worth it anymore?

It’s a fair question! And since streaming is cheaper, it may seem like it is obviously the better option.

Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. This week on the blog we are going to take a look at the difference between streaming 4K content and watching it from a 4K disc, and how that difference can impact your viewing experience. 

Well, what is 4K?

Before we head into the digital weeds and look at the difference between 4K that is streamed or 4K that is being watched from a physical disc, we first should fully explain what 4K actually is. 

4K – or Ultra HD – is a resolution, much like 1080p or 720p before it. Unlike those other two, 4K can be a bit confusing of a nomenclature. The previous two standards had the resolution right in their names, but 4K isn’t actually 4000 pixels: 4K is 3840 x 2160 pixels resolution, exactly four times the number of pixels than 1080p has. Round up the 3840p to 4K, and you’ve got yourself what everyone refers to as 4K resolution!

So, are 4K Blu-rays better than streaming?

The short answer? Yes.

The long answer? Also yes. 

While streaming is a convenient option, and can at times seem the better option because it means you can easily hop between a bunch of movies at once without ever needing to get off the couch and fetch a disc, it does come with its drawbacks in quality.

For example, when compared directly, an Ultra HD Blu-ray is going to have at least five times more data on it than a streamed version of the same film. This means that you are going to have less detail in a streamed movie, which could manifest itself in a variety of different ways.  

The same goes for audio, as well. Streaming services need to push giant amounts of data around as fast as possible, so the audio you are getting over the internet is compressed. Put this up against the lossless audio on a 4K Blu-ray, and it’s no challenge – the Blu-ray is always going to sound better. 

The 4K Finale 

Of course, in a battle of convenience versus picture quality, which one truly reigns supreme is going to come down to preference. But, if you want to break it down and just look at the numbers, 4K Blu-ray is always going to give you the best quality picture and sound over streaming, at least for right now. 

And remember, whether it’s helping you go home with a brand new 4K TV and player, helping you adjust your TV’s settings to make sure you are getting the best picture and sound possible, or if it’s just helping you get used to using the smart technology around your home, we’re here to help! Give us a call or swing on over today!