Blu-Ray Players: Not Necessarily the New

I got the chance to check out a Blu-Ray player a while back while I was on vacation at my in-laws ski condo. This would be the first time I'd seen a Blu-Ray player in a real environment, not a kiosk engineered to try and sell you on how high-detail and high-sound it is by showing Spider-Man versus Dr. Octopus over and over. I saw First Blood and Independence Day, and here's the verdict. I don't think getting a Blu-Ray player is necessary at this point.

Here's why: the start-up takes a long time - 45 seconds - and that's not even loading the disc. Personally, that's not a big deal to me, if you're going to watch a 120 minute movie. But the big deal is the difference between it and the normal resolution & sound. Now I wish I had seen a movie that was more recent - Independence Day is approaching fifteen years old. But most movies have not been filmed to take advantage of high-definition home viewing. So this would be typical viewing.

The verdict - yeah, it's nice. You notice it when the movie starts first playing (wow, look at that helicopter. Wow, I can see all the detail in the spaceship). But then you forget about it and start watching the movie. Which is what you should be doing in the first place. That's the inherent flaw in the Blu-Ray player - all the resolution in the universe isn't going to make "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" any better. It feels like the existence of the Blu-Ray distracts from the movie experience. By changing the way the movie is, it distorts your original idea of the movie.

But of course this is a temporary effect - new technology always provokes that "wowie-wow-wow" reaction, until people get used to it. But right now, I have a DVD player that upconverts to 1080p, and regular DVDs look pretty damn good on it. Eventually, all the movies I watch will take advantage of the high-def ouvre.

What I'm most curious about is whether the Blu-Ray thing is going to take off. Right now, it seems to be just treading water. Every movie is release as both a DVD and Blu-Ray (which has got to be expensive for the companies). Did Sony release Blu-Ray too soon after everyone had converted their video collection? Are the players still too expensive or unnecessary (if you don't have an HD tv, no sense in getting a Blu-Ray)? Or do people feel like I feel, that the jump just isn't far enough to justify the changeover? I bet its a combination of all of these. And that says to me that Blu-Ray may not survive, especially when people are treading water themselves, its hard to justify the additional expense of a new technology.

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