With Toshiba’s announcement that they will no longer be making HD DVD players, the format war is now over. If you chose a Blu-ray DVD player, you are a happy camper. Just try to be kind to your HD DVD friends and not gloat too much over your victory.

If you chose HD DVD, you are now licking your wounds and probably trying to decide if you are going to jump aboard the Blu-ray bandwagon now, or if you are going to wait a bit to let your wounds heal and to milk your HD DVD player for every last bit of value before it gets relegated to simply an upconverting DVD player.

For those that were on the fence, waiting it out until a clear victor emerged, you now have your answer. Blu-ray won and is here to stay.

Regardless of your decision there is now a clear solution. If you want to enjoy your movies in high definition and take advantage of all the capabilities of that brand new tv, you will need to add a Blu-ray DVD player to your home theater set up.

The format war may be over, but now the gold rush for consumer dollars has begun in earnest among Blu-ray manufacturers. There are many players to chose from now and many more new players on the horizon. The following are 5 things to consider when shopping for a Blu-ray DVD player.

1. Picture Quality – Obviously the first thing to consider is picture quality. A Blu-ray player can playback high definition content and contain 5 times the detail of standard definition DVD players. The player should be capable of full 1080p high definition. Make sure that the picture is crystal clear with vibrant colors. Keep in mind that the picture is also dependent on the TV and it’s settings as well as the Blu-ray disc content itself so if you are going to be comparing picture quality make sure to get a reference quality disc and use it consistently so you are sure that you are comparing apples to apples.

2. Supported Sound – One of the biggest improvements of a Blu-ray DVD player over a standard dvd player is the sound. Some people will argue that the sound is even more of an improvement over the picture. Keep in mind that there are many different sound codecs to be supported and this should be a major consideration on your purchase depending on what level of sound you hope to achieve and what receiver you have in your home theater. It is important to note that even if you are only interested in Dolby Digital or DTS you should notice an improvement over standard definition DVD.

If you really want to take advantage of the new format, look for support for Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD as well as the stunning lossless audio found in Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio). These audio formats allow you to hear the master audio tracks as the director intended. A Blu-ray DVD player can decode audio internally or it can pass it along through bitstream to a compatible HDMI 1.3 receiver. It the player can not decode internally, but can pass through bitstream make sure your receiver is compatible. While some of the current players on the market are limited in the audio formats they can play, many of the newer players have included support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio.

3. Profiles – When I first began researching Blu-ray DVD players I noticed players talked about different profiles and I wasn’t sure what they meant. Profiles were designed as minimum standards for the players. Profile 1.0 was the first basic profile and did not require local storage, secondary audio or video decoders or internet connection capabilities. Profile 1.1 added 256MB of local storage space as well as secondary audio and video decoders for special features such as picture in picture effects. Profile 2.0, or BD Live adds the requirement of internet connection capabilities and 1GB of local storage in order to support content downloads and other interactive features.

4. DVD upconversion – Blu-ray players are not limited to just Blu-ray discs. They can also play standard definition discs. They can also upconvert the DVDs to 1080p through an HDMI connection. Keep in mind that an upconverted dvd will improve the picture quality over a regular run of the mill DVD player, it will not rival the sharp picture of a good Blu-ray disc.

5. Ability to play video games – If you have an interest in high definition movies as well as video games and would like them both in one box then you are in luck. The Sony PlayStation 3 is recognized as one of the better Blu-ray players on the market and can also provide high definition gaming for you to enjoy. Some people still prefer to have a separate game console and stand alone player as the PS3 does not have a front panel display and some prefer IR remote capabilities as opposed to Bluetooth remote of the PS3, however if you are on a tight budget or looking to save space the PS3 is certainly worth consideration.

So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to take a look at a Blu-ray dvd player and kick back and watch your stunning, crystal clear movies with immersive high definition audio for a truly spectacular home theater experience.