Netflix paid $500M to get Seinfeld for five years, but for seventy bucks, you can have it for the rest of your life! It turns out the humble DVD may be a hidden gem in this age of fickle streaming.
DVD Movies Are Cheaper Than Ever
Whether browsing Amazon or walking into a brick-and-mortar store, you may have noticed that DVDs are often aggressively priced these days. While exceptions exist for rare or recent programming, it’s not hard to find complete TV series collections for under $100 or movies priced in the single digits.
Once you move into the world of used DVDs, all bets are off, and if you spend a few minutes diving in the bargain bin at your local supermarket, there’s a good chance you can walk away with multiple classic movies in your bag.
Many DVDs Will Never Get HD or 4K Releases
Some of the most popular shows and movies have received HD, and even 4K remasters. This is usually only possible if film stock can be scanned at a high resolution, but even if all the stars align for such a remaster, it’s still expensive. Only specific properties will get this love and attention. AI-based upscaling is starting to make it viable to bring all sorts of remasters possible, but that doesn’t mean an actual Blu-ray or UHD Blu-ray release will ever arrive.
In other words, if you’re still waiting for a Blu-Ray release of a show or movie you love, it’s probably not getting one. So buy the DVDs now before they go out of production!
Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Series Blu Ray
One of the few Star Trek TV series to get a painstaking HD remaster using the original camera film negatives. To date, this is the most 'HD' that classic TV Star Trek gets!
DVD Upscaling Technology Is Awesome Now
On the topic of HD and 4K, after years and years of practice, TV, and HDMI DVD and Blu-Ray player makers have had a lot of time to perfect the art of upscaling DVD content to look good on a 1080p or 4K display.
DVDs provide a quality source for upscaling, so you may be surprised to see just how sharp a DVD can look on a modern TV. Get a player to find out.
Sony DVPSR510H DVD Player with HDMI port
The Sony DVPSR510H is highly-affordable for those who don't want to buy a Blu-ray player just to upscale DVDs to 1080p.
DVD Drives and Players Are Cheap and Plentiful
4K UHD and standard 1080p Blu-ray players both allow you to play DVDs with upscaling, and in an ideal world, you’d go for those options to satisfy your physical media needs.
However, Blu-ray players can still be pricey. On the other hand, DVD players abound at virtually any budget level. Best of all, you can turn any computer with a USB port into a DVD player by adding a cheap USB DVD drive.
LG Electronics Ultra Slim Portable DVD Drive
It's always a good idea to have at least one external optical drive around, and this LG drive does it all.
DVDs Will Outlast Your Favorite Shows on Streaming
We weren’t kidding with that Seinfeld bit before! Streaming TV shows that don’t belong to the service (e.g Netflix originals like Stranger Things) will eventually leave. Popular animated show King of the Hill spent years in limbo after leaving Netflix and finally popping up on Hulu.
In the case of Seinfeld, we know that it will be on Netflix for that five-year term, but what then? There’s no guarantee it will be streaming anywhere or that it will be perpetually syndicated on broadcast TV. Meanwhile, you can get a repackaged copy of the Seinfeld box set for well under a hundred dollars. If you take good care of them, they’ll outlive you.
Seinfeld: Complete Series Box Set (Repackage) -- DVD
It's a show about nothing, but people seem to love it anyway.
DVDs Often Have Better Quality Than Their Streaming Versions
Since DVDs have a bit-rate of roughly 10Mbps, the actual quality of the pixels beat out the per-pixel bitrate of anything on Netflix. This gives the upscaler lots to work with, and you may be surprised at the comparative quality on your TV.
DVDs are mastered and quality controlled (or at least they should be) so you’ll get the same picture quality every time. With streaming you may get artifacts, worse colors, and smeary motion. However, that depends on your internet connection and the compression quality. So this isn’t true for everyone, but at least with DVDs, you know what you’re getting.
No Internet Required!
Speaking of how fickle the internet can be, the next time your internet goes down, right when you have time to kick back and watch something on TV, just imagine how nice it would be to grab a comfort show from the DVD collection you don’t have. They’re a worthy investment for a rainy day.
DVDs Are a Trove of Unique Special Features
Accessing special features on streaming platforms is becoming more common, but most of the movies and series you can stream only offer the program itself. DVDs, on the other hand, tend to have various extras, such as deleted scenes, alternative endings, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and more.
If you buy (not rent) a movie on a service like Apple TV, you’ll get access to some extras, but that still comes with the other drawbacks of keeping your movie “purchases” in the cloud. It’s also worth considering that some DVDs may have special features that don’t make it into streaming versions, giving them extra value for collectors.
Extended Editions, Director’s Cuts, and Special Editions
For the most part, the movies available on streaming services and even those available for digital purchases are the standard theatrical versions. For better or worse (depending on the movie) DVDs are often released in various versions. These include director’s cuts, special editions, extended editions, and other variations.
Under the assumption that the same versions don’t exist on Blu-ray and in light of the impermanence of digital purchases, DVDs might offer the only way to access these special versions of movies.
For Lots of Shows, DVDs Are the Only Option
Despite offering thousands of shows, even if only on a rotating basis, streaming services only offers a small fraction compared to the number of movies and series available on DVD. Many of those shows may never be streamed, or be available for digital purchase. So if you’re looking for a show and simple can’t find it right away, don’t resort to someone’s upload of a VHS they taped off the TV, there may be a DVD version of what you’re looking for going for pennies.
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