It's Not Just the PlayerBlu-ray players do offer significantly improved audio and video, but the first thing a consumer needs to consider is the home theater system they plan to watch movies on. If you are yet to switch to a high-definition TV, you will get very little out of a Blu-ray player. That's because a standard-definition television is not capable of displaying full Blu-ray quality.
Great Audio Requires a Great SystemBlu-ray audio is superior but, as with video, you will only get top quality if you have a sound system capable of decoding all the information on the discs. The better your home theater amplifier and speakers, the more likely you are to reap the full benefits of Blu-ray sound. People who don't have their system set up with an outside amplifier (i.e. folks who use the standard television speakers) aren't likely to notice much difference between DVD and Blu-ray sound.
How Good Is It?
Blu-ray offers the best possible video signal you can bring into your home. Depending on the quality of the source transferred to disc, the picture can be considerably better than standard DVD. But the leap from DVD to Blu-ray may not seem as dramatic as the leap from standard- to high-definition television. That's because upscaling DVD players make standard DVDs look quite good.
The bottom line is that the switch from an upscaled DVD to Blu-ray is more of a baby step than what we saw with high-definition television, but it's a worthwhile baby step.
Is It Worth the Price?That depends. For me, Blu-ray is worth the money, but I'm one of those guys who loves to have the best possible audio and video and winds up being an early adopter of all sorts of new media. I have friends who are perfectly happy with the audio and video quality they're getting from DVD and have no interest in upgrading. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what type of quality you're happy with.
Should You Buy It?
For the average person, it makes sense to jump to a Blu-ray player if you already own a high-definition television. The prices have come way down in the last couple years, so you can find nice players for as little as $150 and budget models for even less.
If you're still using a standard-definition television, I wouldn't upgrade to Blu-ray now. Your regular DVD player will look just as good, and chances are the price of Blu-ray players will drop a little more by the time you switch to HDTV.