iTunes vs Blu Ray

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jasphair, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. jasphair macrumors member

    Dec 22, 2008
    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking to begin a collection of my favourite movies, but am torn between digital (iTunes) vs physical (Blu Ray). iTunes is nice because it works on all of our Apple stuff, whereas the Blu ray only works on the TV/Blu Ray player. But at the same time, it's nice having physical copies as a backup or to lend, etc. If I wanted to bring movies with me (e.g. to travel), I'd have to rip the movie into a playable format and copy it to the iPad/iPhone, or get an external Blu Ray drive and bring it with me for the MacBook.

    What's the better investment you think?
  2. Asuriyan macrumors 6502a

    Feb 4, 2013
    I tend to only buy Blu-Ray media that comes with Digital Copy. The best are the sets like Game of Thrones that include Blu-Ray, DVD, iTunes and Ultraviolet/Vudu copies.

    Decision-making is overrated :)
  3. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    The library is free, and Netflix is only $8 per month. If I were you, I wouldn't even consider iTunes.
  4. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    +1 for iTunes, never scratched a movie (disk) or lost one yet. I can log in pretty much anywhere and watch any of the movies I own without having to carry around 100 DVDs in my luggage.
  5. eliehass macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2008
    I get my movies from iTunes. The video quality is fine for me, and I like being able to watch my entire collection on any of my devices. I can take my laptop or appletv to a friend, connect it to the internet and watch any of my movies. I think that whole icloud feature is what really sold me on iTunes.
  6. GSPice macrumors 68000


    Nov 24, 2008
    Are you kidding?

    I'd go with iTunes as much as possible. The only reason I may get a blu-ray is if it comes with a digital copy, and if its an epic movie that might look and sound better on blu-ray.
  7. grooveattack macrumors 6502a

    Jan 9, 2008
  8. handlemyhansen macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2013
    Id say itunes. Its close to blu ray quality and you can access it from multiple devices without needing to carry discs
  9. mslide macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2007
    I always pick Blu-Ray although I of course prefer the ones that come with the digital copy as well. I want the physical disks and don't want to be tied so closely to Apple for movies. I don't care about having movies available on all my devices. Most of our movie watching is done in our theater and there's a standalone blu-ray player in there. If I want to watch something on our devices, netflix is enough to keep me entertained.

    This is also only for movies that I know I'll watch a lot and I really want to see at the best quality possible otherwise I wouldn't have purchased it to begin with.
  10. cuestakid macrumors 68000

    Jun 14, 2006
    San Fran
    I realized that for me, since the movies I get normally end up in iTunes anyways, it is easierit to just buy directly and not waste time ripping and encoding and tagging everything.
  11. cledet macrumors regular


    Mar 26, 2012
    San Francisco, CA
    I'm also torn between digital and physical media. Both tend to be the same price but with the physical one, you have a backup.

    Personally, I've been purchasing Blurays and ripping them to my Mac Pro then adding them to my iTunes so I can watch them on my iOS devices (via AirPlay) or Apple TV.
  12. Omnius macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2012
    Optical media is dead or dying. Digital media has been more reliable for me.
  13. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    I never buy physical media any more.

    There are pros and cons to each but for those who like the physical "security" of physical media, consider:

    • theft. it's harder for someone to steal your itunes library if they break into your house
    • indexing. i can find digital content in my library within seconds. sorting through DVDs or Blu Rays takes time
    • portability. I can download my digital media from anywhere, and sync it to my devices
    • physical storage - i don't need a shelf to store all my discs in
    • damage - my digital media won't get damaged.

    Yes, if itunes goes away, so does your media. I think it's a reasonable risk/reward trade-off. With modern DRM, blu-ray has copy protection and your playback key can be turned off anyway.
  14. =w= macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2012
    I have a terrible aversion to physical media these days.

    I just bought a PS3 and now have a bluray player.. can't see myself buying a movie on bluray ever.

    I'm not one of those crazy quality freaks where if something isn't perfect on my screen, I get bothered by it.
  15. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    There are those that favour iTunes and similar and those that prefer higher quality.

    iTunes - easy, you simply download and play on whatever device you have that is capable. Of course you are then tied to Apple-likes-it devices.

    Streaming via Netflix, Amazon or Vudu - works well enough but like iTunes it can be limited. Amazon and Vudu offer up purchases as well as rentals and Amazon for Prime users, offers some "free" streaming.

    Blu Ray - two top advantages remain: better quality image and audio. None of the above can match the ability to play HD audio such as DTS-Master. None of the above can match or surpass in video (presently).

    I have used all of the above. I find that I prefer buying and renting Blu Ray discs and at times DVD. I have some iTunes stuff and also use Amazon and Vudu. It really is a matter of tastes and your home set up. If you don't care about highest quality then iTunes is not a bad way to go if their library of movies is enough for you. Same with the other services.

    In AVForum's site, there are a few contrast and comparisons between services and Blu Ray. I think for most people, iTunes works very well but for me, I have a 65" plasma TV and a receiver that is HD audio capable and it does make a difference for me. My neighbors are quite happy with DVD level surround sound which is what many of these services offer (regular Dolby surround etc.) so they don't need for audio what Blu Ray provides. Then again, they seem to love coming over for movie marathons so that might too, tell you something.

    I first started out by renting movies and if I knew I was going to want to see the movie again, I bought locally or via Amazon. Over time, I find I buy less movies as I have about 80 Blu Ray movies that I repeat watch (Lord of the Rings extended being a good example as friends love to watch that at my place). For TV shows and such, iTunes makes perfect sense unless it is something like Game of Thrones which really looks excellent on Blu Ray.

    Sorry if I don't give you a solid answer but just know that if you have the audio equipment, Blu Ray offers better audio that is noticeable. If you have a large quality screen, same can be said for the video. If you have a typical set up, all of the options are good options and do again look at AVForum's site for contrast and compare.
  16. Thraun macrumors regular


    Dec 18, 2008
    Abbotsford, BC
    Good arguments from both sides, but I'm a little confused by the people that mentioned they prefer physical media because they have a 'backup'. Isn't it kind of the opposite? If you have physical media and it breaks or gets scratched or whatever, that's the end of it, you'll need a new copy.

    With iTunes and other digital media, you own that file and if all your devices end up stolen or burned or exploded or whatever, just log into iTunes and download it again. Or stream it to a portable device anywhere in the world you have internet connection.

    Physical media is dying, I think it's a poor time to invest in that.
  17. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020


    Jul 21, 2004
    If you actually care about the quality of the movie watching experience at home you'll go with the best thing available, and that is bluray. iTunes looks like crap in comparison and doesn't have extra features.

    Physical media is far from dead, those that think otherwise don't live in reality with the rest of the world. Some people don't have access to hi speed, or internet at all.
  18. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    As stated, many Blu Ray come with ultra-violet... digital copy and also, some people back up their discs to drive. I have stored media all the way back to VHS days. I don't find the argument about destroyed media to be the case but rather the exception if one is reasonably careful. I'll continue to enjoy HD audio over DVD quality audio that iTunes offers. Something about seeing items like Lord of the Rings (any of the 3 movies) in extended version with HD audio and premium video.
  19. nrc2112 macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2013

    Optical media is dead and if you think not, just look at what CISCO is predicting for IP traffic in 2017.
  20. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    I always get Blu-ray. Despite people proclaiming that "optical is dead", Blu-ray still offers superior quality, no download time, and no restrictive DRM. I can shop around for the best deal instead of being limited to just Apple. I can get a second-hand movie for cheap. I've only bought one movie from iTunes (it was some sort of "iTunes gets it first" deal) and found the sides cut off to make it fit a 16:10 screen. Sigh.

    This is on the verge of turning into a rant so I'll stop there!
  21. jwjsr macrumors 6502


    Mar 15, 2012
    Fairhope, Alabama
    audiophiles and videophiles use something like the Oppo 103/105. I have the oppo 103, it is not as simple/ convenient as itunes etc but I've had a lot of fun messing with it.
  22. tgi macrumors 65816


    Aug 29, 2012

    Number 1 reason why I go the Blu Ray route. Sure iTunes is convenient on multiple devices, but I can't justify paying MSRP. You can find used Blu Rays on Amazon and eBay for ~$5. You can rip the Blu Ray if you want it on your iTunes and you can lend it out to a friend if you want.
  23. mwebb macrumors member

    Jan 18, 2011
    it's complicated ...

    Here's my personal history.

    I only briefly subscribed to cable, back in the mid '80's. I was so proud of myself for finally getting access to premium shows (Showtime, HBO, both in their infancy) and movies before Blockbuster got them, only to discover that they mostly ran them at inconvenient times, and they didn't have a lot of variety, they kept re-running stuff. Plus the monthly subscription fee seemed high and never ended - what a shocker (even today compare cable costs to Netflix and Amazon, the two primary "monthly flat rate" services).

    Blockbuster busted my chops. They had so many ways of pretending to be cheap and convenient, while doing everything possible to "game" our usual mistakes so they could make their real money on late fees. Still, for years they and the odd indie shop here and there were the only game in town.

    Once in a while I'd actually buy a disc. I could never figure out why a music CD would cost $17 but you could get an actual movie, with much higher production costs, on a DVD for less. Sometimes much less. Some of those early transfers - from VHS to DVD - were pretty miserable in terms of quality though.

    I started watching streaming video on an old underpowered laptop. I think Lost was the first show I regularly watched. The early streaming video was really low quality, whether from Hulu or the TV network itself, but man the ability to watch when I wanted to - to time shift - even to pause, to back up to catch missed dialog - was a real experience shifter.

    I never thought Netflix streaming would work. Regular Netflix had been a game changer for me. I think I was on the 3-4 discs out at a time plan. It was much cheaper than Blockbuster. I would order discs without worrying about whether I was making a great choice - if the movie was a bomb, I just sent it back without watching.

    But I was willing to give streaming a try. The real game changer for me was HDMI and Roku. First, even a good computer wheezed under Netflix streaming back then. But, shockingly, this unknown miniscule company (Roku) turned out a device that streamed much better than my computer. Much sharper. Fewer stutters and stalls. The days of waiting for a buffer to patiently fill, and hoping the rate of play wouldn't catch up and the buffer ran out, were over.

    TV's were moving from tubes to flatscreen. To HD. But HDMI really turned the trick. Sound hookup was much simpler. Accessing the device was much simpler.

    Somewhere in there, Blu Ray came along. But it was too late. The players were slow to boot up, the players were expensive, the media (discs with the movies on them) were much more expensive than DVD's (they are often cheaper now, at Frys). Plus, I couldn't play them on any laptop and I couldn't convert them to computer files to watch on trips (like I could my DVD's with Handbrake).

    So streaming slowly seduced me. I got mad when Netflix changed their rates and split DVDs from streaming, and ending up dropping not the streaming, but the DVD's. My kids scratched and lost DVD's. The electronic content was kid proof and me proof.

    I swore I would never buy e-content. I bristled at iTunes prices; and Amazon's were about the same. Then I started buying e-content, or renting. Instead of waiting for Netflix to get content, I bought it from iTunes (or rented it). TV series without commercials, could be watched in binges. The experience was qualitatively different. Sure I had some DVD sets - first two seasons of Breaking Bad on sale - but being able to change my mind and veer off in a different direction quickly, via a remote on Apple TV or Roku, and much better than having to muse about which DVD I wanted, find it, insert it, get bored, load another - the instant access to any content via streaming and a remote changed the viewing experience for me.

    For the last year I haven't watched Netflix streaming OR any DVD's or Blu Rays. Netflix's movie content is pathetic. It has no "rent" option for new content. In that regard Amazon is better, they have older titles for free, other stuff you have to rent or buy. iTunes is the opposite - no subscription stuff, just rentals and purchases.

    I migrated away from Netflix for another reason (pay attention Netflix!). They "secretly" would downgrade my video stream. It would be really sharp, then a little fuzzy. Their buffering sucks. With Apple, the buffer might stall (once in a rare time) but quality is always impeccable. Amazon, same issues.

    So here I am. The latest Apple TV - real surround sound, real 1080p. I can watch my favorite tv series in real high quality. When I want. Completely time shifted. Change my mind and switch shows easily.

    Netflix is now the kiddie's nanny. I only watch it for some obscure anime or for House of Cards etc. If they have a movie on it that I would have to pay iTunes for, I watch it on Netflix. But that's rare. Usually because I can't wait for a movie to make to Netflix anymore. Usually because I am watching tv series that take forever to show up on Netflix.

    For travel same thing. I just stop watching the stuff I like in the weeks coming up for a trip, clear off my iPad, and load up movies from iTunes before I go. If I am lucky enough to have good wifi overseas, I can download more or purchase. Once again Netflix is a fail, they won't even stream content to me overseas even if I had a connection.

    But you can't fault Netflix at $8 a month. Best bargain in entertainment. Multiple streams too - my two kids can both watch all day on separate tablets, and they often do.

    In short, e-delivery is the future. Heck, it's right here now. Discs just can't compete on convenience and in the best possible case - Blu Ray - they only match Apple TV etc. quality.

    I thought Apple, a seller of premium products, was willful and obnoxious in leaving Blu Ray players out of their machines with players. Now I really don't care any more. And as much as I hate the iTunes program - I don't even have to use it. I just order content from the Apple TV, that way it doesn't auto download to my desktop and clog up my hard drive.
  24. slenpree macrumors 6502a


    Apr 13, 2010
    Actually quite impressed with the sound and video quality on iTunes.

    Sound wise, it's not Loessless Mutli-Channel like blu-ray, but high bitrate AAC isn't exactly poor quality, especially when listening from the built in TV speakers.

    Video wise, i've done some extensive tests and found iTunes to be at least on par with blu-ray and actually sometimes better, this might be a h.254 High vs H.264 Main discussion or poor H.264 decoder on cheaper/earlier blu-ray players. Eitherwise the Apple TV seems to have a very advanced H.264 decoder built in and get's all my movies off the internet, which is like a backup and great if my house burnt down!

    HD iTunes download - £9.99 last I checked and the option to rent for £4.49 - Renting also seems more releastic to me since for most movies most people only watch them once and end up with a blu-ray disc they can't sell for anywhere near what they paid for it.

    However blu-ray's are great when buying second hand, if you don't mind the physical room they take up when the collecton gets big (this is a two sided debate because i'm rappidly running out of hard drive space due to the amount of HD movies I have in iTunes lol).

  25. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    I agree with you there! I was spoiled by HD DVD, which booted up and played significantly faster than Blu-ray. I was shocked when I got my first Blu-ray and got a screen saying that it could take 2-3 minutes to start up! :eek:

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