Blu-ray is a waste of my time (and yours)
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.
Even worse for Blu-ray is that nagging discussion on HD downloads. Unfortunately, the prospect of HD downloads is nowhere in sight, but most people are still waiting for a major boom in the industry. Sure, you can do it now, but waiting hours for a movie to download isn't really my cup of tea. Until we see faster broadband speeds and more companies throwing their weight behind it, Blu-ray will be hanging around.
But how successful will it really be?
With only a few better features than DVD, Blu-ray is quite simply the laughingstock of the tech industry. It beat HD DVD handily, but can it really stand up to its biggest foe yet - the DVD? If it can, will it be able to stand up to HD media downloads or even upconverting DVD players?
So far, those answers are unknown. But as the vendors continue to set ridiculous prices on players that should be priced at $100, look for slow adoption and a general lack of care about anything that's going on with the new format.
Right now, Blu-ray is a waste of money and destined to fail unless things change drastically in the next year. If things don't change, DVD will have claimed another victory.
Opinion: Blu-ray or HD DVD -- neither, thanks