Blog Post

Why I Jumped on the Blu-ray Bandwagon

I did it. I broke down and bought a Blu-ray player. In the middle of the worst recession of my lifetime, I spent nearly $300 on a gadget that I didn’t really need. And you know what? I love it. But not everyone is ready to make the jump to Blu-ray. So what’s holding them back? And what pushed me over the edge?
The biggest factor for me was image quality. Since I made the move to an HDTV more than a year ago, I find myself increasingly unable to watch anything else. I tried to watch Tuesday’s Celtics-Bulls game on a 13-inch SD TV. By the time it ended, my eyes were watering and my head was pounding — and it would have been a lot worse had the Celtics not pulled off that overtime win.

I’ve been spoiled by my HDTV and I freely admit it. So when I would sit down to watch my regular old DVDs on my big-screen TVs, it always seemed that something was missing. And I have to respectfully disagree with the people who say they can’t see a difference between regular DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Without a doubt, I notice a difference.

Price was pretty important, too. In fact, the falling prices on Blu-ray players were what initially caught my attention, even though I ended purchasing a mid-range player for about $300. And you don’t even have to spend that much. You can now find a decent selection of players for around $200, and many experts expect those prices to fall even further.

Futuresource Consulting, a UK-based market research firm that tracks the sales of Blu-ray players, notes that prices for the standalone versions fell by 15 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, and expects them to fall by another 25 percent in 2009. “We will see sub-$100 players, perhaps not this year, but definitely by Q4 next year,” Futuresource’s Andy Watson says. His company expects 12 million Blu-ray players to ship globally this year, a “significant increase” over 2008.

So why buy now if prices are only going to drop? But that’s the quandary with any technology purchase, though, isn’t it? And it’s not the only reason people are holding off on making Blu-ray player purchases. Blu-ray discs are pricier than standard DVDs, typically costing a couple dollars more. Even a Blu-ray subscription to a service like Netflix (s nflx) will cost you an extra couple of dollars per month. Not everyone has an HDTV, either. And not everyone cares about image quality the way I do.

And then there are the people who think that Blu-ray is a stop-gap technology, that your Blu-ray player is another gadget destined to be gathering dust in your garage. Maybe they’re right. Maybe we’re headed for an all-broadband, all-download and streaming world, one in which HD movies are sent directly to your TV. A world where you don’t have to wait for the coveted red Netflix envelope to land in your mailbox.

But that world isn’t here yet. I got a good five years out of my DVD player before I relegated it to backup status. Will I get that long out of my Blu-ray player? Maybe. But I’m not going to worry about it. Instead, I’m going to be enjoying the true HD picture of my Blu-ray player. What about you?

12 Responses to “Why I Jumped on the Blu-ray Bandwagon”

  1. The “Blu Ray is a stopgap” people are dreaming. Dreaming of a day in which 1gbit ethernet criss-crosses the country, in which content providers relax their stance on DRM and rights sharing, and in which bandwidth is no longer a bottleneck on quality.

    The simple facts are these:

    -Content providers like optical media. They can charge more, DRM is easier to implement (if also easier to crack), and they can re-issue things ad nauseum.

    -A/V quality over the internet is simply not up to snuff. Heck, as someone above mentioned, A/V quality over cable is not up to snuff. It probably won’t be at DVD level for 5 years, and it won’t be at BD level for 10 years, if ever.

    -People like owning things. About the first time someone “loses” their movie collection because a content provider goes out of business and can no longer stream it, people would realize the inherent difficulties with digital content delivery.

    I am not saying that digital delivery will not eventually take over, or that Blu-Ray is the end-all/be-all. I use Netflix streaming and Hulu to watch TV programs over my PS3. At its best, this delivery method can be very liberating.

    But if I want a true cinema experience on my 50″ 1080p HDTV, watching blocky, pixellated mush with no subtitles or extra features that may or may not stutter and cut out (over a cable modem connection) is just not an option. Optical media still blow these alternate methods out of the water in terms of quality and reliability. I expect to keep using both DVD and Blu-Ray for at least the next 10 years.

  2. Johnno

    One important element is also to look forward. Hollywood is gearing up big time for 3D films and blu-ray will be the format for bringing high definition stereoscopic 3D entertainment to the living room, something DVD won’t. You require an HDTV with a high framerate to do this as well as a disc with the storage capacity for both image channels. Likely films will be available on the disc with regular and 3D viewing options so it will carry both formats on one disc. Current films are at 50Gbs and future discs of up to 200GBs are planned for mass manufacture.

    I got a PS3 for blu-ray and gaming and I’m very pleased, I have an HDTV, and if anything the games and movies make me want to get an even better HDTV to enjoy them more! But I’ll wait for the 3D revolution so I can upgrade my HDTV then! Gaming in 3D is also a guaranteed future proposition providing you have the right HDTV!

  3. For me the main problem is the price of discs: Here in Europe you will pay about 7€ (or $10) more for a new release on Blu-ray. For older content the difference is even bigger as it is much cheaper on DVD. Also there is not much niche content, probably because of the licensing and duplication costs.

  4. After getting a Blu-Ray player myself I would now never go back. It heightens both the visual and audio experience more than I could have imagined.

    Just need the price of the Blu-Ray discs to come down now even more.

  5. I had a Blu-ray player via a PS3. But I ended up dumping it. Not because I didn’t like the Blu-ray, but because I didn’t like the gaming experience. I’m fine with HD movie rentals (Xbox, Vudu, Amazon, cable box) and premium cable for now.

    So… which make/model did you get?

  6. Nathan Spears

    I think it will be a long time (at least 5 years) before VOD quality reaches Blu-Ray quality. Just because the image resolution is 1080p in both cases doesn’t mean that the picture quality is actually the same. Cable HD isn’t even as high quality as over-the-air HD, nevermind stuff being viewed over an internet connection.

    I think you made a good purchase and you will be able to enjoy it for some time. If you haven’t seen Planet Earth and The Godfather restored version yet you should check them out.