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 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?