Sound Advice: Make most of Blu-ray player features

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 1, 2012 - 3:18 PM

Answers to your multimedia questions.

Q I have an iPhone 4, and I like to use it to make short video clips of friends and family. Is there an easy way to play the movies back on my HDTV?

The movies are in my iPhoto program on my MacBook Pro. If it helps, I have a 55-inch Samsung plasma HDTV with an Onkyo 709 receiver and a Samsung BD-D6500 Blu-ray player.

A In your case, the answer is easy.

Your Blu-ray player has a USB port that will play many kinds of files. All you need to watch your movies on the big screen is a USB flash drive.

Insert the flash drive into your computer and launch the iPhoto program. Drag the files you want to watch onto the desktop (it should copy them there), and then from the desktop to the flash drive. Eject the flash drive and connect it to the Blu-ray player's USB port. The files will pop up in a list, and you can select which ones you want to watch with your remote control.

Although this question involves specific pieces of equipment, the takeaway for all readers is that your Blu-ray players and HDTVs have USB ports and memory card slots that add useful and fun capabilities. Sadly, they often go unused.

Do you have an AVCHD camcorder or a digital camera that records pictures and movies onto SD or SDHC memory cards? If your Blu-ray player or HDTV has a memory card slot, it will often play these movies and pictures.

Specific capabilities depend on the age and model of your television. For example, a friend has a three-year-old Panasonic plasma HDTV with an SD card slot. The television will display photographs but not movies. For movies, he uses the SD card slot on his Blu-ray player.

If your device has a USB port but no card slot, you can use a memory card reader.

I have a PlayStation 3 with USB ports attached to the biggest television in my house. I just put the memory card in the card reader and plug the card reader into the PlayStation's USB port to view photographs on the big screen. You also can drag music files onto memory cards and flash drives for playback on most Blu-ray players.

These capabilities are good reasons to upgrade to a new Blu-ray player or to buy a Blu-ray player if you don't have one.

Early Blu-ray players would play movies with high-definition pictures and sound with few other features available. While high-definition movies are the main attraction -- and a wonderful one at that -- newer players do so much more, including streaming music and videos from online sources and playing media from USB and memory card slots.

With prices starting at about $80 for a full-featured player from a major brand name, it's one of the best values in home entertainment today.

Send questions to donlindich@gmail.com. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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