10 reasons not to buy Blu-ray

10 Reasons Not to Buy Blu-ray
(no matter what’s happened to HD-DVD)

1. Unfair practices
This is why Sony was able to “win”. They sold the PS3 at a huge loss in order to make sure that Blu-ray was included in the package. They didn’t even care that doing this led to them basically losing the video game market for this generation. (Keeping Blu-ray out would have meant the hardware could have been much cheaper, therebey giving them a fighting chance they never had as things turned out.) But even with disappointing sales vs. the XBOX 360 and (especially) the Wii, the PS3 was able to trounce the sales that HD-DVD was able to accumulate on its own. Every measure shows that regular (non-gaming) consumers bought HD-DVD players at a significantly higher rate than Blu-ray machines. But gamers bought enough PS3s to more than make up the difference and they bought movies for it (because, frankly, there’s been precious few games worth playing on the thing). So, essentially, thanks to what amounts to a practice of dumping (that would get you sued if you used it to drive a competitor out of business in, say, the microchip market), the “next gen” format has been chosen by a bunch of gamers rather than the general public who will have to live with it.

2. Sony can’t spell
Blu? Blu? Sheesh.

3. The law of diminishing returns
Unlike in the jump from VHS to DVD, the difference between a DVD (particularly once its upscaled) and either Hi-Def format is minimal. Don’t be fooled by the sales guys who will say that the difference is night and day, it isn’t. On a huge-screen TV shown side to side, maybe you will see a difference, but popping a standard DVD into your player and watching it on any reasonably-sized screen, few people are going to look at it and say “man, that looks terrible”. And what good is Hi-Def on your portable player, your car player, the small TV in your bedroom? Useless.

4. An industry that conspired to “get it over with”
Well, maybe not conspired. I have no reason to believe collusion was involved. But when everyone from techwankers like The Digital Bits to Warner Bros. and Netflix chooses Blu-ray *not* because it is the best technology for consumers or the industry as a whole but because “it’s going to win anyway”, it’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The average consumer seemed to prefer HD-DVD. The sales of standalone players seems to support that notion. But there was *never* a level playing field, as too many “big guns” backed Blu-ray exclusively. Had all major studios (even leaving Sony out) supported both formats, the results would have been different. Disney support alone could have tipped the scale, as families generally opted for the friendlier prices of HD-DVD.

The thing is, you should worry when the industry gathers together to kill one side of a competition in the marketplace. Competition is good. Competition drives prices down and forces the participants to do all they can to make their product better. Now, there’s no reason to.

5. Stupid name
Blu-ray sounds more like an old Golden Age super-hero than a technology to take seriously. “Look out, here comes the Blue Ray! ”

6. Never let the people with all the guns and all the money be the same people.
Out of context, I assure you, but the notion is the same. By allowing Sony, a company who is increasingly more about content than about technology (since they’ve lost so much ground there) to be the ones defining the technology, you take it out of the hands of those who produce only hardware and put it in the hands of those who have a vested interest on both sides. I, for one, prefer it when my technology comes from technology companies and my movies come from movie companies.

7. Disney’s shameful practices
Now, I love my Disney movies, but the disgraceful way they have been pushing Blu-ray is practically criminal. Rather than utilizing all the great new features of Blu-ray (that’s sarcasm, there really aren’t any), they have, instead, purposely left stuff off of their DVD releases in order to tout the “Blu-ray exclusive” material. There’s no reason that the DVDs of Cars and Ratatouille couldn’t have had the same commentary tracks that their Blu-ray counterparts did. Heck, Ratatouille barely had any more extras than Meet the Robinsons and MTR got a commentary track. But Pixar films appeal to a more tech-savvy audience than standard Disney fare and I think the Disney brass wanted to push those customers (the ones most likely to early adopt new technology) towards the Blu-ray, while punishing those not ready or willing to adopt the format.

8. It’s all going away, anyhow.
If the industry is to be believed, we’re all going to be downloading all our media content in the years to come. There are some who say that the only reason Microsoft chose to support HD-DVD was to perpetuate the “war” and keep people from adopting either format, just so that digital downloads would be the ultimate winner. There’s some validity to that argument. After all, if Microsoft *really* wanted HD-DVD to succeed, they would have made an XBOX 360 model that was HD-DVD compatible out of the box. That would have matched Sony’s scheme and, with a much larger library, could have tipped the scales.

9. Sony can’t be trusted
Sony has proven one thing over the years: they can’t be trusted. Don’t forget that these are the guys who crippled people’s computers with their anti-copying technology. They are also the guys who tried (and failed) to push minidiscs and UMDs on consumers. And we know from the way they’ve handled the PS3 that they can’t even be trusted to stay true to the backwards compatibility of Blu-ray. After all, they dropped PS2 support from the low-end PS3 when they felt it was causing people to keep buying PS2 games instead of the more expensive PS3 titles. Who’s to say in three years when Blu-ray *still* hasn’t grown past 10% of the marketplace in disc sales, they won’t phase out backwards compatibility to “push things along”?

Also, as noted, Sony doesn’t really have a great track record with introducing new technology. The last really “new” item that Sony introduced was the Walkman and they dominated the portable music market for years. Of course, they handed that away to Apple with their ridiculous refusal to support mp3 files, so that’s gone. Letting Sony “win” this battle may ultimately mean that the two sides were fighting over who gets to be the next laserdisc. *

10. Don’t get railroaded
It’s bad enough that we’re being forced into “digital transmissions” that few people want, but to try and force a new, generally unneeded format onto a public that doesn’t want it is a waste of time and energy. I find it hard to believe that the general public is ready to move back over the $20 price point for a standard DVD just because it’s in Hi-Def. Oh, the videophiles will, but most people don’t even see the difference. Particularly if they have an upscaling DVD player. So most people won’t buy it until the prices are as low as DVD or they are forced to (because the studios stop making DVDs). What that means is, either the public is forced to support a format they don’t like, or Blu-rays return to the current status quo. The first option is an insult to consumers and the second does nothing to help studios make more money now that DVD sales have flatlined.

And if you are interested in getting into Hi-Def media, you can forget about those regular price drops and great free movie and buy-one-get-one-free sales. Without a competitor, you can expect Sony to pull back on most of their promotions, as they were only meant to keep you from going HD-DVD. they figure you’ve got no choice but to move “up” to Blu-ray now.

Prove them wrong.


*Note: Remember, laserdiscs were a very successful product for many years, despite never capturing a significant portion of the home video market. While Beta died because the average consumer didn’t want it, the high-end user also bought and used laserdiscs for its many advantages. The same may happen now. DVD may continue to be the format of choice, while Blu-ray becomes the choice of the high-end user; never the mainstream format, but something that keeps chugging along.

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