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in Filmmaking
on Jan 4, 2009

I was kind of perplexed by Michael Glitz’s piece on The Huffington Post entitled “DVDS — How and Why You Should Switch to BluRay.” He runs through all the standard arguments — they look better, that’s the way the industry is heading, you can play your standard-def DVDs on a BluRay player, and if you have a 1080p flat-screen you’re getting the most out if it with BluRay. All reasonable arguments, and, in fact, while I don’t have a BluRay player I spent an evening with a friend the other day who has one and the picture quality of remastered old films like The Searchers was incredible.

But I guess the tone of the piece struck me as odd; it’s something that I’d expect to read in a home video magazine rather than the Huffington Post. I don’t think anybody’s doubting that BluRay disks look better; the question for people today is both whether they can afford to buy a player and a modest number of disks to make it worthwhile, or, perhaps more importantly, if they feel like investing in a new physical media format. Because, the struggle to get consumers to adopt BluRay is being complicated by the growth of digital downloads and streaming from iTunes store, Netflix, etc. Sure, they don’t look as good, even when they are touted as HD, but they are more convenient, can be transferred to a handheld device, and they don’t junk up your living room or basement.

The argument is playing out in the comments section, which I found of more interest than the article itself. Some samples:

“The Blurays are slowly taking over the dvd section at Best Buy. Personally I’m just downloading all of my movies digitally these days. Digital downloads are the future …” — davism97

“Pay a few more bucks for cable, and you can get all the movies your heart desires either for free, or for $5, on the spot, just by hitting the “>” key on your remote!

How often do people really watch Batman on DVD, or BluRay anyway? 10 times a month? I doubt it. Just watch it On Demand, through your cable subscription. It’s so much greener than buying all new BluRays. What a colossal waste, replacing everything.

Also, Netflix, under certain plans, lets you watch movies on your computer! Hook up your computer to your TV, and you’re good to go!” — Truth and Theory

“Unless we plan on waiting for about 2 more years when hard goods are dead. Apple TV, OnDemand, Netfilx… all will allow you to just download movies, buy them or rent them. No need to store countless DVDs that just take up room gather dust, clutter up the living room, make you look like a geek and slowly become obsolete.” — Skudgobang

“Hey in 3 years I can put that Bluray player in the garage with my useless DVD player and other out of date electronics that were over priced and now useless because technology moved beyond it. Are you a salesman for BestBuy or something? Let me know when a BluRay player is down below 50 dollars, but spending 200 for something that will be obsolete in a few years is not practical. Besides I am using that money to buy things I need like food. But thanks for the heads up.” — jdenham

“This does sound like a commercial from a troubled industry. I recently bought a dvd player with up-converting feature for less than $90, it has fantastic image, nothing else needed. I have no need, no intention to pay extra for blu-ray player or discs.” — racom

“Please. BluRay will be passed over in favor of downloaded media. It’s already happened for music and it is beginning to happen with video. New devices that do exactly this are popping up like weeds every day. Apple, Net Flix, and Block Buster already have attractive products for downloading and streaming videos to rent or own.

Why would I want to keep a discrete piece of plastic lying around in my home for each video I purchase when I can just download it without having to go to a store and pay retail costs for shipping, storage, and shelf space? Why would I want to have to return a rental to a store, vending machine, or mail them back and forth?

Furthermore, the technological jump from DVD to BluRay is nowhere near the magnitude of change that was seen going from VHS to DVD. All you’re getting with BluRay is more density, more unwanted DRM, and more cost. There is no compelling need to upgrade. This lesser technological difference will only slow Blu Ray adoption rates, giving the systems for downloaded video an easier path to market saturation.

Downloaded video becomes more viable as magnetic storage becomes cheaper and home broadband increases in bandwidth and penetration in major consumer markets.

Sony is feeling the pain of having invested so many resources in a format that is not needed and already outdated.

This article is so patently ridiculous one must wonder how much you were paid to shill for them.” — generalstore

Okay, I cherry-picked these quotes, but I’d say the comments thread ran about two to one against the author’s call for us to immediately buy BluRay.

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