So Santa left a high-definition player — Blu-ray or HD-DVD — under your tree. Still scratching your head about what to put in it? We pick the top 3 titles in each format.
The eye-popping colors of this cartoon gem are why high-def was invented. Freeze-frame anywhere and you’ll swear you’re staring at a painting. You also get Blu-ray-exclusive bonuses like clips of director Brad Bird brainstorming with animators and a featurette that lets you experience how an alternate score affects a scene’s pacing.
The bold, saturated hues are a visual treat, but it’s Blu-ray’s superior audio capability that truly takes center stage, especially during the high-energy musical numbers. An innovative picture-in-picture feature showcases footage of stars like Nikki Blonsky and Zac Efron rehearsing dance routines and laying down tracks in the recording studio.
BLADE RUNNER: ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION
Just about any scene in this fully restored version of director Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic is reference-worthy, but the sun-dappled tableau when Harrison Ford and Sean Young first meet, glittering with impossibly lush blacks and golds, should be running on a loop in every HDTV store in the country.
In what may be the coolest bonus feature ever, a bluescreen picture-in-picture lets you view the epic swords-and-sandals block-buster before the CG effects and backgrounds were added (most of the film was shot on a soundstage) and before the color was jacked up to create the movie’s heavily stylized, high-contrast look.
HEROES: SEASON 1
Fans will appreciate the wealth of cutting-edge extras. Among them: video commentaries featuring the cast and show creator Tim Kring that play alongside eight of the 23 episodes; close-up looks at Isaac’s prophetic paintings (created by comic-book artist Tim Sale); and a chart that maps the connections between characters.
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
The details are so sharp that you can count Dumbledore’s whiskers — if you’re into that. The DVD seamlessly incorporates pop-up trivia tidbits (actor Rupert Grint’s dressing room was a popular cast hangout!) and making-of featurettes into the viewing experience.