Monday, February 04, 2008

Hi-Def Blues

Blu-ray has been in the news this past month with the announcement that Warner Brothers would begin full fledged support of Blu-ray and slowly phase out HD-DVD production throughout the year. Many critics have seen this as a definitive blow, giving Blu-ray the clear lead over HD-DVD in the High Definition format war. Both Universal Studios and Paramount, however, have also announced that they have no future plans to release movies on the Blu-ray format, sticking exclusively with HD-DVD. Unfortunately for the consumer who can either pick a format and hope it wins the format war, there still isn’t a clear choice of either side as to which player to buy.
On the HD-DVD side there is the issue of the new 51GB disc. This disc was designed to nullify the capacity advantage of Blu-ray’s 50GB disc. However, the 51GB disc has been delayed on multiple occasions as it is constantly being refined in order to work with all existing HD-DVD players sold since their debut in January 2006. No major studios have announced use of the new, larger disc until it is completely finalized and certified as fully compatible by the DVD association.
The Blu-ray Disc Association has also announced two significant changes to the Blu-ray format since its release mid-2006. The first Blu-ray players and discs are known as Profile 1.0 which did not require any of the additional hardware necessary for a player to take advantage of the many special features found on most movie discs. The second generation of Blu-ray discs and players, called Profile 1.1 or “Bonus View” profile, were introduced November 2007. The new players are required to have more powerful hardware to take full advantage of the advanced menus and features found in Profile 1.1 Blu-ray discs; there is no guarantee that any of the Profile 1.1 discs will work on original Profile 1.0 players. The Blu-ray Disc Association also announced Profile 2.0 or “BD-Live” format which will bring more features to the players and discs. None of the Profile 1.0 and few of the Profile 1.1 players will be capable of playing Profile 2.0 discs when they are released this coming October. When commenting on the thousands of people who eagerly bought the first Blu-ray players only to learn that they would not play the latest or future movie releases the BDA representatives merely said, “[These people] knew what they were getting into.”
With these facts I don’t see myself purchasing any stand-alone high-definition player in the coming year. With the chance that HD-DVD may lose the format war I don’t want to risk spending $150 on a player that may not have any new content being published in a few years. On the other hand there’s no way I’d spend $300 on a Blu-ray player today as I already know that I won’t be able to play new movies on it once “BD-Live” discs become the norm later this year.



Polka Dotted Pickles said...

I love the whole aspect of having new cool gadgets and technology, but I hate the cost. Buy a laptop and one week later, you already have to upgrade it. Don't even think about an i-Pod that will be the "newest thing" for more than a few weeks. :)

Neemund said...

I bought my Zen in 2004 and it still serves well as my primary music player. I may look into replacing it in the next year or so since it's starting to wear out.
There's rumors that Microsoft may lower the price of their HD drive to $80 in the near future, now that they've just lowered them to $120. I'll really think about getting one at $80, but probably not willing to spend more than that.