Blu-Ray players are available from as little as £60.00 - do you really get anything better when you pay more money?
With so many really cheap machines available from Tesco's and the like it seems a bit foolhardy to buy an expensive machine that probably does just the same. However the golden rule of getting what you've paid for has never seemed more relevant than here. Quite apart from the reliability issues there is a huge gulf in performance between the 'Happy Shopper' models and even just a relatively cheap quality brand. Even bigger leaps are possible as you climb further up the quality ladder. Picture and sound are both vastly improved. Much better a lower spec quality machine than a fully loaded cheap brand. With Blu-Ray movies, your player needs to load from the disc the mini-program that makes the menu system for that disc work, which is why on cheap players you'll notice that the load time is very long in comparison to better quality machines.
Blu-Ray players will play your current DVD titles also, and in the process, it will up-scale them to a higher resolution such as 1080P. But not everything that glitters is gold and up-scaling certainly falls into this category. It's true that scaling up to 720 or 1080 through HDMi can give you an improved picture, but some bargain players make the DVD look worse than if it was played back at a normal resolution.
Coaxial or optical digital?
On most occasions now, your audio will be going down the same HDMI lead that carries your picture, which is why a good quality lead is essential since it not only effects picture but sound. However, there may still be instances when you may wish to use a separate digital interconnect instead of the DHMI, and this question is an very easy one to answer. It's Coaxial. Optical is a great idea, for instance in medical uses where the signal is converted using high quality light emitting diodes and then travels down glass connector leads, the signal can run a very long way without any kind of degradation. Unfortunately that simply isn't the case on most players. The digital signal is supplied from the laser (and then dealt with as necessary) and then sent to a light emitting diode of dubious quality, it is then sent down an optical lead, usually made of a plastic resin (that if you held a five metre run up to the light and could look through it you would find it is far from perfectly clear), it then hits a light receiving diode (again of very dubious quality) and is turned back into an electrical signal. In a coaxial interconnect, the signal travels down an electrically shielded lead and gets to the other end. Provided the cable is of good quality (and good quality Coaxial's are much more affordable than Optical's) then it's easy to see why Coaxial is far superior.