What Type of TV Is Best To Use With a Blu-ray Disc Player?

Panasonic TC-50AS530U
Panasonic Corporation

Blu-ray Disc has been with us for over a decade, and, like DVD, has definitely made an impact in the home theater landscape, but are getting the most out the picture quality afforded by the Blu-ray Disc format on your TV.

Although Blu-ray Disc players made before 2013 (more on this later) can be connected and used with any TV that has at least Composite video inputs the only way to access high definition content and resolution is by connecting to a TV (for example, an LCD, Plasma, OLED) with 720p or 1080p display resolution through either the HDMI (or DVI via an HDMI/DVI Adapter) connection, or possibly, Component Video connections (the component video option has been discontinued).

Up until 2011, access to high definition resolution had been possible with the Component Video connections of a Blu-ray Disc player that had them, but this is at the movie studios' discretion. From January 2011 going forward, discs may be encoded to allow access to high definition resolution only via the HDMI or DVI connection.

The reason for this that although they allow owners of older, pre-HDMI, or DVI-HDTV-equipped, HDTVs to enjoy the benefits of Blu-ray in high definition, video signals traveling through component connections are more easily pirated than those that travel through the digitally copy-protected signal traveling through an HDMI or DVI connection. Needless to say, the move to restrict the transfer of HD resolution via the component video connection is very controversial.

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

Notes For HD-DVD Player Owners

HD-DVD was officially discontinued in 2008. However, there are still some HD-DVD player owners, and HD-DVD players and discs are still being sold and traded by enthusiasts on the secondary market.

If you still own an HD-DVD player, it can be connected and used with any TV that has at least composite video.

However, just as with Blu-ray, for best results, connect your HD-DVD player to at least a 720p or 1080p HDTV using the HDMI connection option, as that will insure you are able to access a high-definition signal.

The 4K Factor

Since the introduction of Blu-ray, TVs have been introduced that are capable of 4K native display resolution. Obviously, Blu-ray is a 1080p-capable format - However, there are now three factors that actually make using an Blu-ray Disc player with 4K Ultra HD TV a viable (and desirable option).

First: All 4K Ultra HD TVs provide the ability to upscale lower resolution video signals for display on their screens. This means, especially with 1080p content, that your Blu-ray Discs have the potential to look better an 4K Ultra HD TV than they do on a 1080p HDTV.

Second: There are a growing number of Blu-ray Disc players that have built-in capability to upscale DVDs and Blu-ray Discs for better compatibility with 4K Ultra HD display capabilities. Of course, this may seem redundant if the TV also has this capability - but this gives the user the ability to determine with option provides the better viewing experience.

Third: There is also an Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format that was introduced in 2016.

Although this format requires new players to play the anticipated flow of Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs, the players 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.

On the other hand, using a Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc player with a 720p or 1080p HDTV is be possible (some consumers may want to buy the new player ahead of changing out their TV), but you will not get the full benefit of the player's capabilities. In other words, if you don't have any intention of upgrading from a current HDTV to 4K Ultra HD TV, a standard Blu-ray Disc player is the best option.

The Bottom Line

To review, here is what you need to know with regards to the best type of TV 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 high-definition 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, or may not, be able to access high-definition Blu-ray quality depending on when the Blu-ray player was manufactured and/or if the Blu-ray disc title you are playing is encoded not to output high definition when played via component video connections. Also, no matter when your Blu-ray disc player was made, you will not be able to access video upscaling when playing standard DVDs if 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 from Blu-ray discs, as well as DVD video upscaling from standard DVDs.
  • If you also want access to 3D Blu-ray content, you will also need, in addition to a 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc player and a 3D-enabled HDTV that is compatible with the 3D Blu-ray Disc standard. 3D is only available via HDMI connection. Note: Production of new 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 the 3D viewing option.
  • If you have a 4K Ultra HD TV, that is also a desirable option as 4K Ultra HD TVs have the ability to upscale 1080p Blu-ray Disc content so that its better than it would on a 1080p TV.

Check out a visual reference for Blu-ray Disc player connections.

Using the above connection guidelines, what specific brand/model LCD or OLED TVs available as of 2017, your ultimate choice depends on your additional needs. Beyond resolution and connection compatibility for Blu-ray disc players, factors such as screen size, screen shape (flat or curved) and overall picture quality need to be taken into account.

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