Will DVDs Play On Blu-Ray Players?

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Will DVDs Play On Blu-Ray Players?

If you have a great DVD collection then migrating to Blu-Rays and aBlu-Ray player can sound scary. Will you have to have a DVD player and a Blu-Ray player so you can watch them both? Afterall Blu-Rays won’t play on a DVD player so does that mean that DVDs won’t play on a Blu-Ray player either? 

Will DVDs play on a Blu-Ray player? 

Blu-Ray players are designed to play both Blu-Rays and DVDs. Any DVDs that you have will play just fine on any Blu-Ray player. You can buy any Blu-Ray player and you will not have any issues playing any of your DVDs on it. Blu-Ray players do still have Region locks so any DVDs will have to be from the same region as the Blu-Ray player just like a DVD player has to. 

So, how come DVDs will work in a Blu-Ray player but Blu-Rays won’t work in a DVD player? What is the difference? We will dive into these questions and more in the rest of the article. 

Differences between DVDs and Blu-Rays

It is important to know that Blu-Rays and DVDs are superficially similar but they have very different formats. Here's some of the differences:

  • Blu-Ray discs store a whole lot more data than any DVD can. Each single-layer disc can reach 25GB for Blu-Rays  and 4.7GB for DVDs.
  • Data is also burnt and then read at very different laser wavelengths on a Blu-ray disc.
  • Blu-rays have a scratch-resistant coating which DVDs don't have.
  • DVDs are recorded at 650nm in the red wavelength and Blu-rays are recorded at 405nm in the blue wavelength.
  • Blu-rays also have a higher video bitrate. Its bitrate is 40Mbps whereas the bitrate of DVDs is 9.8Mbps.

Difference Between DVD and Blu-ray Players

There are not just differences between the DVD and Blu-Ray discs but there is a difference in the players as well. Here are some of those differences: 

  • Blu-Ray players can play DVDs but DVD players aren't able to play Blu-Ray discs.
  • Many Blu-Ray players can easily connect to the internet where they can download important firmware updates. Moreover, many Blu-Ray players can be used for instantly streaming video using services like  Netflix and YouTube.
  • Blu-Ray players can very easily support high definition video but the DVD players can only support the standard video definition which means that the quality of the picture when using a DVD player will be far worse than on a Blu-Ray player.

Upconverting DVDs

Most Blu-Ray players come with the ability to upconvert DVDs. This means that the DVDs standard 480i resolution gets converted to a higher one. Depending on the video and the player, the upconversion can improve the resolution of a DVD to 720p, 1,080i, or even 1,080p. As one can imagine, this will greatly improve the picture quality of the DVD, especially when you view it on a hi-def television. 

Problems in Upconverting

Upconverting can seem like a great solution to all of your problems but it isn't a flawless process. You have to keep in mind that a DVD's content is still very much encoded in standard definition. So this will ultimately mean that even after upconverting, the DVDs will still not be close to the same quality  when compared to Blu-Ray disc quality. It should also be kept in mind that there isn't a set standard when it comes to upconversion. What this means is that since there is no set standard when it comes to upconversion different players will end up producing different quality of upconversions. If you want the best then you will have to do some extra research to determine which player produces the best quality with DVDs. You can expect to pay more for a higher quality Blu-Ray player that upconverts better. 

How does a Blu-Ray player play DVDs?

A Blu-Ray player comes with two kinds of laser assemblies. There is a blue laser that reads the microscopic pits that store date on the Blu-Ray discs. The other laser is a red one that reads the larger pits that store data present on DVDs. So Blu-Ray players are automatically able to detect the kind of disc which has been put in it. Accordingly, it will select what kind of laser it needs to use to play the contents of the disc. If the disc inserted isn't compatible then the Blu-Ray player will simply eject it or show a message showing the incompatibility. 

This will only happen if you try and put in a video game disc or something like that that is not supported. 

Why isn't it possible to play Blu-Rays in a DVD player?

It might seem a little eyebrow-raising to many people that you can play a DVD in a Blu-Ray player but you can't do the opposite. This is because the Blu-Ray discs have more embedded audio and video information than any DVD player will be able to read or play. The pits which store up the information present on the Blu-Ray are much smaller than any DVD which needs a blue light laser to even be able to read the given information. 

DVD players make use of only red lasers and don’t have blue lasers in them so they can only play DVDs. 

The blue lasers emit a light beam of a much shorter wavelength. It focuses on the much smaller pits present on a Blu-Ray disc. It's the pits present on a DVD where all the audio and video information is stored on the Blu-Ray discs. 

The only reason that Blu-Ray players can play DVDs is that they have both blue and red lasers in them. DVD players only have red lasers so they can only play DVDs. 

What can you play in a Blu-Ray player?

A Blu-ray player can very easily play CDs, DVDs, and obviously Blu-Rays. Some Blu-Ray players are also able to play SACD, HDCD, DVD-Audio, and CD-R/RW. There are some players which will even let you rip CDs to a USB flash drive. That's not all, there are some Blu-ray players which are even able to play DTS-CDs, MP3s, DTS-CDs, JPEG Photo, and AVCHD Discs. But this last batch is pretty rare. 

The Blu-Ray/DVD Flipper Disc

At the end of the last decade, Universal Studios did something new. They brought out something known as "flipper discs". These discs had Blu-ray present on one of its sides but had DVD on the other. Universal put three movies of the Bourne series on there. Those were- Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy, and Bourne Ultimatum. 

Ultimately this style of disc never took off and now it is common to just get two discs with one in each format. 

Blu-Ray and Ultra HD Blu-Ray

Apart from Blu-Ray, there is also the Ultra HD Blu-Ray format available. But these ultra HD Blu-Ray discs are very different from both DVD and Blu-Ray. Ultra HD Blu-Ray disc players can play Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, and Music CDs as well as Ultra HD Blu-Rays. 


There are certainly many differences between DVDs and Blu-Rays but the biggest differences between the players are the fact that DVD players have a red laser while Blu-Ray players have a red and blue laser. Since Blu-Ray players have red and blue lasers then they are able to play both normal DVDs and Blu-Rays. 

Overall, it is definitely a good decision to buy a Blu-Ray disc player if you have both Blu-Ray and DVD collections. This will give you greater options when it comes to using them and won’t require you to have two different players for each type of disc. 

Moreover Blu-Ray players are pretty inexpensive as well so you will get a good two-in-one deal if you buy a Blu-Ray disc player and many Blu-Ray players will also allow you to connect to the internet and use the player to stream movies and shows as well. 

Ultimately even if you don’t have Blu-Rays yet, buying a Blu-Ray player is a great way to future proof your player so you don’t have to upgrade it in a few years when you buy some Blu-Rays. 

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