Monday, July 17, 2006

A Quick Rant on Blu-Ray and HD-DVD

Well with a new format war being waged, both competitors vying for a position in your home entertainment center, I thought I'd get my thoughts on the issue out there and voice my concerns

I think both formats are on the road to ruin very quickly. The fact is, they are ahead of their time, and not in a good way. I have several reasons for having this position and here they are.

First off, HDTV penetration is only about 20% in the US for sure, (I'm not sure what it is abroad, but as it stands, that percetage is far too low for either format to get a real foothold in the market. This percentage is expected to grow this year and next but I don't see a significant HDTV "boom" coming in the future. The really good quality HDTVs are still expensive, placing them outside the budgets of many consumers. Blu-ray and HD-DVD players aren't exactly impulse buys either. Currently, HD DVD players are going for $500 and Blu-ray players are coming in at a whopping $1000. I don't think the added quality is worth spending the money for the HDTV and an extra $500 or $1000 for an HD-DVD or Blu-ray player respectively. That purchase is going to hurt even more if the format you side with loses the format war. Meaning you're stuck with an expensive player that you can only use for the movies you already own, as no new releases will be coming down the pipe.

Another reason is that while they offer a few new features, such as upscaling DVD's to the higher 720p, 1080i or 1080p resolutions, Blu-ray and HD-DVD players seem to be more of an evolution than the revolution DVD's were. Even when they were first released to the market, DVD's completely obliterated VHS in terms of features and quality. The added convenience of being able to quickly skip to the exact moment you wanted to see, being able to repeat any scene as many times as you wished without having to rewind over and over, and having easy access to special features without having to fast forward through the entire movie, and all the other features made possible by DVD's made VHS useless for anything other than recording your favorite TV shows (and with DVR's becoming more and more common, that one reason for their existence is slowly disappearing). Blu-ray and HD-DVD on the other hand don't do much more than DVD's besides the obvious quality and space advantages, there's not much that makes me believe DVD's are obsolete.

Third, I think Sony is putting to much behind Blu-ray. Throwing a Blu-ray drive in each PS3 may be a mistake if the format goes south. There are advantages, such as the extra Space Blu-ray discs provide, but other than that, if Blu-ray fails, they have nothing. Last generation, the PS2 was marketable as a cheap DVD player. That helped get a lot of PS2's into homes. This gen, Sony is doing the same thing. The only problem with that is, last gen, people didn't have to buy a brand new TV to fully enjoy the benefits of DVD. This gen, you need an HDTV to get any real benefits of the Blu-ray movie playback. As I stated before, only a small portion of the market owns HDTV's. Blu-ray in the PS3 is a double edged sword. It could seriously help Sony in the electronics market or knock them out.

Well, that's all I have to say on the issue. Feel free to let me know how you feel.

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