What Type of TV Is Best to Use With a Blu-Ray Disc Player?

How Blu-ray Disc players connect to TVs

Panasonic TC-50AS530U
Panasonic TC-50AS530U.

Panasonic Corporation

For anyone with a home theater system, it's worth asking the question: Are you getting the best possible picture quality from your Blu-ray Disc player? Answering that question requires an understanding of resolution formats — namely, standard definition (SD), high definition (HD), and ultra high definition (UHD/4K).

Blu-ray players made before 2013 can connect to any TV that has composite video inputs, which includes a lot of old standard definition (SD) TVs.

To access high definition (HD) resolution, the Blu-ray player must connect to a TV with a display resolution of at least 720p or 1080p. (This may include LCD, Plasma, and OLED TVs.) The connection must be made using an HDMI cable or a DVI connection with an HDMI/DVI adapter. In some cases, you may be able to use a component video connection, although that format has been discontinued.

UHD content, again, requires full compatibility from end to end, including the Blu-ray player, the Blu-ray discs, and the television. These TVs, although increasingly common, are quite expensive and require an HDMI connection.

How to Find the Best TV for a Blu-Ray Disc Player

Here is how to determine the best type of TV to use with a Blu-ray Disc player.

  • If your Blu-ray player has a composite video output, you can connect it to any TV that has a composite video input. However, you will not be able to access HD Blu-ray quality from Blu-ray Discs, nor video upscaling when playing DVDs.
  • If your Blu-ray Disc player has a set of component video outputs, you can connect it to any TV has a set of component video inputs. However, even if your TV is an HDTV, you may not be able to access high-definition Blu-ray quality. It depends on when the Blu-ray player was manufactured, and if the Blu-ray Disc you are playing is encoded not to play in HD when connected to a component video input. And no matter when your Blu-ray Disc player was made, you may not be able to access video upscaling when using component video connections.
  • If your TV has an HDMI input, use the HDMI output connection on your Blu-ray Disc player for access to high definition video resolutions, as well as DVD video upscaling from DVDs.
  • If you have a 4K Ultra HD TV, it likely has the ability to upscale 1080p Blu-ray Disc content, providing a better image than what you would see on a 1080p TV.
  • If you want access to 3D Blu-ray content, you will also need a 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc player and a 3D-enabled HDTV compatible with the 3D Blu-ray Disc standard. 3D is only available via the HDMI connection.

Production of 3D TVs was discontinued in 2017, but 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc players are still available, as they can also be used with video projectors that include a 3D viewing option.

The 4K/UHD Factor

Many TVs are now capable of real 4K display resolution. Although Blu-ray is a 1080p-capable format, there are three factors that make using a Blu-ray Disc player with a 4K Ultra HD TV possible:

Ultra HD (UHD) is, technically, a little over 3.8K but it's easier to just refer to it as 4K. Also, UHD is 4 times the number of pixels as 1080p.

  1. All 4K Ultra HD TVs have the ability to upscale lower resolution video for display. This means that Blu-ray Discs have the potential to look better on a 4K Ultra HD TV than on a 1080p HDTV.
  2. Some Blu-ray Disc players provide 4K upscaling for DVDs and Blu-ray Discs for better compatibility with 4K Ultra HD TVs. This may seem redundant if the TV also has this capability, but the user can determine which option provides a better result.
  3. The Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format was introduced in 2016, which offers real 4K resolution Disc playback. Although new players are required to play Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs, they are able to play all DVD and Blu-ray Discs as well. To get the full benefits of Ultra HD player capabilities, you need a 4K Ultra HD TV equipped with HDMI version 2.0 or 2.0a inputs.

Although you can use an Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc player with a 720p or 1080p HDTV, you will not get the full benefit of the player's capabilities. Some people may buy a new Blu-ray player before getting a new TV, but If you don't have any intention of upgrading from an HDTV to a 4K Ultra HD TV, a standard Blu-ray Disc player is the best option.

What About Component Video?

Until 2011, it was possible to watch HD content on a Blu-ray Disc player with a component video connection, but this was by no means standard. Since January 2011, discs may be encoded to only allow access to HD resolution via HDMI or DVI.

This is because video signals traveling through component connections are more easily pirated than those through the digitally copy-protected signals of an HDMI or DVI connection.

Since December 31st, 2013, Blu-ray Disc players no longer come with either composite or component video outputs.

About HD-DVD Player Owners

Although officially discontinued in 2008, HD-DVD players and discs are still sold and traded by enthusiasts on the secondary market.

If you own an HD-DVD player, it can be connected to any TV that has at least composite video connections. However, just as with Blu-ray, connecting an HD-DVD player to at least a 720p or 1080p HDTV using the HDMI connection will provide much better results.

The Bottom Line

Using the above guidelines, your choice of TV depends on budget and preferences. Beyond resolution and connection compatibility for Blu-ray players, factors like screen size, screen shape (flat or curved), and overall picture quality should be taken into account.

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