April 24, 2008, 10:41 AM — Even since Blu-ray won the high-def format war earlier this year, almost everyone I speak with is wondering whether or not they should upgrade their entire library from DVD to the new format and start moving into the "future."
Invariably, I ask them a simple question: "Would you be willing to pay $500 for a new player and spend $30 on movies?" Invariably, the answer is no. And therein lies the rub. Why is Blu-ray so special? Is it because we're being gouged at retail and so some people think it's neat? Is it because we're being promised something that's oh so much better than DVD when in reality, it's ostensibly more appealing? Is it because Blu-ray is simply the next big thing and it's natural for us to want something like that?
Probably all of the above. But if we justify the purchase of Blu-ray through those questions, how important is it really? In reality, Blu-ray is nothing more than a money dump that's trying to trap us through a false sense of hope. But if we're smart, we'll stay far away from this junker.
Now I'm sure at least some of the people I talk to are thinking that I'm totally off my rocker. "But, Don," some say. "Don't you know that Blu-ray is the future and it's HD?"
If you spend some quality time watching Blu-ray movies on a screen that's any smaller than 50-inches or so, you'll notice quickly that the difference in image quality when compared to DVD is barely noticeable. Does it look better? Sure. But the quality difference is not nearly enough to justify repurchasing your entire library of movies and surely not enough to justify purchasing an overpriced player.
When DVD became the fad in media, people adopted the new format because the difference between DVD and VHS was astounding. Not only was the picture quality much better, it offered a slew of add-ons that made owning a DVD far more appealing than a junky old VHS.
But now, the differences between Blu-ray and DVD are minor. Sure, you're capable of enjoying 7.1-channel surround sound and the picture is in full HD, but what else does Blu-ray really bring to the table? On the storage front, it's a major improvement - you can store 50GB on a dual-layer - but other than that, I'm simply not seeing anything that would make me want to replace all my DVDs.