It’s a fact of life that media formats become obsolete. While we don’t think DVD and Blu-rays are outdated just yet, their future is inevitable. So, is a disc player still worth buying?
Well, if you want a DVD or Blu-Ray player, you might as well buy one. You don’t need anyone’s permission. But if you’re undecided, you might need some reasons why a disc player is worth your hard-earned cash. Lucky for you, there are still plenty of good reasons to buy a disc player.
A Novel Concept: Owning What You Pay for
As physical media slips into the abyss, we’re starting to run into an interesting problem. You can’t own movies anymore. You either pay $12 a month to watch a select library of content that changes every month, or you shell out $15 for access to a specific movie on a particular website (to be fair, Movies Anywhere helps solve this issue). And, as we’ve seen from Ultraviolet’s failure, access to digital content can disappear at a moment’s notice.
If you want to own movies and TV shows, you’re going to need a DVD or Blu-ray player. There are still a few outlets where you can purchase and download movies, but it’s often cheaper to buy the discs. Need an example? A new Blu-ray copy of Aliens is just $11, while a digital license (which might disappear one day) costs $15.
Blu-Ray Quality Is Still Better Than Streaming
By now, most people recognize DVD as a low-resolution format. The highest resolution achieved on DVD is only 480p—less than your average YouTube video. Blu-Ray, on the other hand, supports uncompressed 4K video, along with multichannel, uncompressed audio. Believe it or not, that’s still higher quality than you’ll find on any streaming service.
Sure, services like Netflix and Amazon Video are making a slow crawl toward 4K. But at this moment, most of the video on these websites is still in 1080p—four times smaller than 4K. Additionally, streaming platforms have to compress 4K video and audio to prevent lag and buffering. This compression leaves behind undesirable digital artifacts, like banding and ghosting effects (which, to be fair, you might not even notice).
If you’re obsessed with quality, though, you should pick up a Blu-ray player. We’re not saying you should totally ditch streaming and commit your life to discs, but there’s no harm in going the extra mile for good video and audio—especially for your favorite flicks.
Some Movies Aren’t Streamable
For film buffs and fans of international movies, the age of streaming is a curse. Streaming services seldom offer rarer films or arthouse titles and, when they do, the fun doesn’t last long. This problem extends from the streaming business model, and it makes DVD and Blu-ray players an attractive prospect.
To build up their libraries, streaming sites sign expensive contracts with movie studios and media corporations. But the audience for “artsy” films is narrow. Understandably, Netflix and Hulu aren’t willing to sign expensive contracts for films that will go unwatched, and movie studios aren’t willing to license their movies for cheap (they have to stay in business, after all).
To see this in action, look at how the Criterion Collection is handling its transition to streaming. For a short while, the entire Criterion Collection was available on Hulu. Evidently, that didn’t work out, and the Collection moved to a WarnerMedia service called FilmStruck. Nobody wanted to pay for FilmStruck, and it failed. Now, Criterion films occasionally crop up on Mubi (a service that rotates between a few titles a month), and the studio plans to build yet another streaming service. To make matters worse, most of these rare films aren’t available for digital purchase on Amazon or Google Play.
DVDs and Blu-rays offer an obvious solution to this problem. Instead of waiting for a movie to pop up on a streaming service for a month or two, you can buy the disc and own it for eternity. You’re welcome, movie buffs and film majors.
Discs Are Cheap and Getting Cheaper
Blu-rays and DVDs are already cheaper than digital licenses and downloads. We went over this earlier, but it’s time for an extreme example. The Blu-ray Toy Story Collection, which includes three movies, sells for only $26. But if you want to buy digital access to these three films through Amazon, you’d end up spending $42.
As time goes on, the price of Blu-rays and DVDs will continue to decrease. As we’ve seen from the history of physical media, there comes the point where people and retailers start to purge their collection of obsolete media in favor of the newest format. This means two things: fire sales and cheap used discs.
You can already see this purge happening on some websites (and at garage sales). Just check Craigslist for Blu-rays. You’ll find no shortage of “expensive” movies (Ghibli movies, collectible box sets, and so on) selling at bargain-bin prices. Even if you aren’t interested in owning physical copies of high-resolution video, it’s worth having a disc player just to pick up cheap copies of movies.
If You’re Going to Buy One, Buy It Used
For some reason, new DVD and Blu-ray players are still expensive. An average DVD player sells for around $50 and Blu-ray players for about $80. So, if you’re on the market for one of these, we suggest buying one used. We also recommend skipping the DVD player altogether and buying a Blu-ray player as they’re fully capable of playing regular DVDs.
It’s possible you already own a DVD or Blu-ray player. The PS4, PS3, and Xbox One all play DVDs and Blu-rays. If you don’t own one of these consoles, it might be worth buying one for watching movies and playing games.
So, where’s the best place to buy a used DVD or Blu-ray player? Here are some options:
- eBay: If you’re looking for a specific model or brand of player, you’ll probably find it here. If not, though, you should probably skip eBay—the used disc players here are surprisingly overpriced.
- Goodwill: Your local Goodwill probably has more than a handful of DVD players. If you’re patient, you’ll eventually find a Blu-ray player at Goodwill for under $10. You can also shop online at the ShopGoodwill website.
- Craigslist: Disc players are cheap and abundant here. Most Blu-ray players are listed between $10 and $25, and DVD players are even less expensive.
- Facebook Marketplace: Generally, the prices for disc players on the Facebook Marketplace are identical to the prices on Craigslist.
- Letgo/OfferUp: These apps are the “easy” versions of Craigslist. You can usually find disc players between $10 and $25.