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We live in a world where most of our entertainment options are available via streaming services. You can stream movies, TV, music, and even video games within a matter of minutes. With Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, even books are available via a very similar delivery mechanism.
It wasn’t always this way. Even 10 years ago, plenty of us had collections of Blu-ray and DVD copies of our favorite movies and TV shows. Are these just a waste of space these days, or is it worth making some space and hanging on to them?
Digital Is Digital, Right?
You might think that what you stream into your home would be the exact same quality as a Blu-ray. This isn’t the case, as the bit rate is usually higher on a Blu-ray, so it’s storing more information about each frame of video. This is why you’ll see macroblocking (those annoying visual artifacts in dark scenes) much more often while streaming.
If you’re dealing with the same resolution, a Blu-ray Disc will almost always look better than streaming video. The exception is when you’re comparing a 4K stream with a 1080p Blu-ray. Still, you may end up with more visual artifacts on the streamed version in this case.
That said, this isn’t really the case with DVD movies. They look fine, but you’ll often get a better result with a stream than a DVD movie as long as the source material is high enough quality.
No Internet? No Problem
I recently had an internet outage, and where I live, my cell signal isn’t good enough to reliably stream movies or TV shows. Fortunately I was prepared, as I’d backed up all my old DVDs to a Plex server. The bad news was that for some reason, despite being a few rooms apart, the Plex app on my streaming box couldn’t see the server without an internet connection.
Thankfully I hadn’t boxed up my Blu-rays and DVDs, so they were easily available. If they hadn’t been, I’d have been out of luck until my internet was restored.
Not Everything Is Streamable
We’ve all probably encountered something like this: You decide to watch a movie, look on Netflix, Prime Video, and maybe some other services and realize it’s not available to stream. No problem, you’ll just rent it. Nope, it turns out it’s not available for rent either, or purchase for that matter.
While most movies and shows are available digitally, not all of them are. If you’ve got a Blu-ray or DVD copy, you’ll always be able to watch your favorites. As long as you keep your copy clean and scratch-free that is.
Don’t Forget the Benefits of Streaming
Of course, the entire reason so many of us like streaming is because there are a ton of benefits to it. One major thing is space. If you’re in a small apartment or simply don’t want to give up the larger part of a wall for shelves full of discs, digital movies and TV shows help you keep your entertainment at your virtual fingertips without trading space.
Have you ever opened a DVD only to find out that it’s been replaced by a Blu-ray copy of the same movie? No? That exact thing happens with digital movies fairly often. When you upgrade from an HDTV to a 4K model, movies you bought through iTunes are suddenly available in that higher resolution, and this is true of a few different digital storefronts and streaming services.
Finally, there are a ton of movies and TV shows available to stream absolutely free, as long as you don’t mind a few commercials. Don’t believe me? Take a look at our list of geeky TV shows you can stream for free.