Blu-Ray A Bit Of A Flop?

June 23, 2009 by  

I’ve never been too excited about the thought of High Definition movies.  I’m quite satisfied with the DVD format, and the benefits of Blu-Ray over DVD are – when you look closely – minimal.

The general concensus seems to be that if you get yourself a nice HD TV and a decent “upscaling” DVD player, then there’s not much difference between the picture quality you’ll get with that set up over Blu-Ray.

The estimated advantage of upscaled DVD over Blu-Ray is that you get 90% of what Blu-Ray offers at a third of the price.

Add to that advantage that DVD movie prices are coming down while Blu-Ray movies are somewhere between £25 and £40 average, then there’s really little point in moving to Blu-Ray from both an economical and a practical viewpoint.

Another downside to Blu-Ray is the long start up and load times when you insert a disc.  Reports of 30-60 seconds are common.

If you have a think back to the format change from VHS tape to DVD disc, the jump in quality and functionality was huge. Moving from DVD to Blu-Ray is marginal when you take DVD upscaling into consideration.

This opinion is now backed up by a report just released by Harris Interactive (pdf) where the findings show that 93% of Americans when asked if they would upgrade to a Blu-Ray disc player in the next 12 months, said no.

This could well boil down to one or more reasons:-

  • There’s a recession and people are very conscious about money.
  • They know the improvement in quality is small.
  • DRM (Digital Rights Management) currently prevents you from making a backup of your Blu-Ray disc, while DVDs can be easily copied and changed into other formats.
  • People have been stung before and are reluctant to jump just because they’ve been told to.
  • Joe Public is baffled by what Blu-Ray will give him when DVD is already so good.

This is all particularly interesting when you realise the US went all digital last week.

One other thing worth mentioning in light of all this is the increasing number of Blu-Ray discs we can find at our local Blockbuster now. In a recent visit, the main wall on the left as you walk in now has the first half dedicated to Blu-Ray and the second half to DVD. What do they think they know that 93% of Americans don’t?

Someone needs to tell Blockbuster management that people like DVD more than Blu-Ray. We’ll keep an eye on that wall and see if the Blu-Ray section becomes larger or smaller.


Our advice?

Get a decent upscaling DVD player for your HD TV that will also play just about every other format you can throw at it (apart from Blu-Ray of course).

So save your money, and then take another look in 2-3 years time to see if the Blu-Ray format hasn’t already been replaced by flash drives. Storage technology moves very fast, and it wouldn’t surprise us at all if DRM-free solid state devices don’t quietly win the format war.

But… If you really must go out and buy a Blu-Ray player then make sure it does DVD upscaling too.  That way you get the best of both worlds.

Our bet is that you won’t see much difference in picture quality from upscaled DVD to Blu-Ray.



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