Selling A Different Kind Of Plastic Disc Will Save The Video Industry?

from the missing-the-point dept

An industry analyst says that Blu-ray disc sales could help save the home-video business, which is hurting as sales of traditional DVDs drop off. This seems to be at odds with earlier stories, which said that Blu-ray sales were particularly bleak, and weren't prompting consumers to upgrade their libraries of standard DVDs. Blu-ray continually gets portrayed as some sort of quantum leap in DVD technology, but in reality, it doesn't look like it offers enough advantages over standard DVDs to tempt large numbers of consumers to buy in at its higher price. Innovative online services -- if the movie studios will allow them to emerge -- would seem to offer the industry a better chance at salvation, rather than yet another form of locked-down plastic disc at a higher price.


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  1.  
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    Streaker, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 3:09am

    Not Sold Yet

    I have an HTPC with a Blu-Ray drive connected to my TV. I also have a large collection of DVDs and digital video files.

    There are very few videos I would be willing to pay for to replace with the higher definition format. I like the look of all the HD stuff, but the gain in resolution is marginal, at best. Certainly not enough of a difference to spend a vast amount of money replacing all the old format versions.

     

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    Ben, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 3:52am

    upgrades that make since

    Of course it made since to switch from VHS to DVD, video quality and new features not with standing. DVD's offered so much more over VHS, and physical space was a big incentive for consumers to replace their existing collections. Replacing one hundred plus plastic disc's for another one hundred plastic disc's at greater cost for the gain of higher video quality holds little appeal to me, and i assume to many others as well.

     

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    moz, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 3:56am

    I thought it was supposed to be noticeably better?

    My impression from the advertising is that Bluray is supposed to be a huge improvement, noticeably better even with low-end HD setups. Not a quantum leap at all, in other words.

    I'd buy one, but until they are cheaper than hard disks there's no point, because my only use for one is as a data backup system.

     

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    Kevin, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 4:00am

    Not worth it yet...

    About 8 months ago my old TV died and I needed a replacement. So I bought a nice 46" 1080p LCD screen to replace it($1800). At the time I also needed another DVD player (old one got moved to a different TV). My options were a BD players at $350, or a 1080p upconverting DVD players for $55. BD may look a little better, but it's not 7x better, and all of my DVDs already are much improved using the new DVD players and TV screen.

    Maybe one day I'll buy a BD player. If I do it will be because it not only does BD movies, but also includes the NetFlix streaming capability. And I have no interest in paying more than $150 for it. So we've got quite a way to go before we're there.

     

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    Simon, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 4:05am

    The ISP's are helping them...

    With a 120" screen to watch movies on, I do want the highest resolution and bitrate I can get - not the HD lite stuff that itunes etc. offer (and certainly not the overly compressed crap available on cable/satellite). Even if the download services offered this, my ISP's caps would stop me downloading anything significant, so for now it's shiny plastic discs or nothing... aint progress grand.

     

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    R. Miles, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 4:10am

    Too little. Too late.

    I can't fathom the last time I bought a movie. The few new movies I've received were gifts.

    Replace my collection? Let's see, at $25 per Blu-ray movie * 60 titles = $1500.

    Thanks, but I'll pass.

    It seems the only "benefit" Blu-ray has is the extras loaded on the disks. While this may be nice for some, it's worthless to me.

    Resolution? My television takes care of this for me. Watching Serenity (standard DVD) on my television never looked so damn good.

    I seriously doubt Blu-ray will make the resolution better.

    It's incredible how some of these televisions upscale.

    You can say these televisions are taking away the primary reason (better definition) for Blu-ray.

    Now, if Blu-ray DVDs were $5 and the players were $50....

     

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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Mar 26th, 2009 @ 4:11am

    I have bought just 1 DVD in the last 4 years.

    Why? Because I have Netflix and the Internet. Also there are very few movies that are worth buying anymore. And I most definitely do not want to have to pay a higher price to replace what I do have.

    Side note I will say that Disney is doing something interesting with their combo movie packs which have Blu-Ray, DVD, and a disk you can play on a computer. Since any one that has kids would buy these this gives them a nice options.

     

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    Voice of Reason, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 4:39am

    Of course it will work

    Blu-ray *will* save the movie industry.

    As we can now see, our new President is fully backing the RIAA/MPAA in their anti-piracy efforts.

    Therefore, together with stronger anti-piracy laws, 3 strikes, throwing people into jail, international ACTA treaty etc etc, eventually, the only option for the great unwashed to get content will be to buy it in whatever format and price the movie industry wants.

    Problem solved at last.

     

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    Sneeje, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 4:39am

    Blueray for streaming

    The only reason I have considered buying a BR is because some of them come with "streaming" apps that would allow me to stream from Netflix through them or from my PC.

    In other words, as others have said: I'll pass on the discs.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 4:48am

    I will NEVER, EVER, NOT if SONY paid me, buy 1 BR disc in my life.

    Anything SONY is DEAD to ME! Forever & Ever!!

    On topic, Nope, BlueRay holds nothing for me even if I didn't HATE SONY, Why on EARTH would I pay hundreds of dollars to upgrade to something that just looks abit better than my DVD 1080p upconverter player?

     

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    RevMike, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 4:51am

    People choose convenience, not quality

    I refer to this as the iPod law. When given a choice, most people will choose a more convenient format rather than a higher quality format. iPods are not particularly high fidelity, certainly when compared to CDs, but carrying around tens of thousands of "good enough" music in a small package is more compelling than the higher quality.

    The media industry didn't see this, because the last two transitions offered both quality and convenience. CDs - with random access and no tangling - are more convenient than cassettes. DVDs beat video tapes because they lasted longer, didn't need to be rewound, and offered random access.

    Now, however, quality and convenience are diverging. Blu-Ray offers absolutely no convenience advantage vs DVD. People would rather watch DVD or sub-DVD quality streaming whenever they want or on their iPods rather than go to a store and spend lots of money on a Blu-Ray disc.

     

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    Ben Rosser, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 4:56am

    Seems to me that some people don't quite get it

    Some people seriously seem to think that BluRay should look a lot better than DVD on an older TV, and that there will be no improvement on BluRay over DVD on a newer HD TV. On a newer HD TV you have more physical pixels, or a physically higher resolution, which is why upscaling cable or DVDs looks nicer, but you are still upscaling from a physically lower quality medium. You will never see the full potential of a HD TV unless you give it a signal initially that contains the SAME level of quality as the TV is designed to display. Just the same as trying to squeeze more quality out of an older TV that doesn't have the physical amount of pixels required to do so is not going to reap a huge gain in quality, it is not just common sense, it is fact.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 5:04am

    The only time I could ever see myself switching to Blu-Ray would be when DVDs are abandoned, and I believe when it gets to the point that DVDs are abandoned, Blu-Ray isn't going to be the successor.
    I think of Blu-Ray as I think of DVD-Audio, or SACDs. Neither has replaced CDs as the plastic disc of choice, despite the fact they offer "better" audio quality. Blu-Ray is just an interesting diversion, but I don't see it taking serious hold of the industry any time soon.

     

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    Ima Fish, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 5:16am

    I freaking love Blu-ray. I rent from Netflix and always choose Blu-ray first. If the movie is not available on Blu-ray, I'll wait unless I'm absolutely certain that the movie will never be released on Blu-ray before getting it on DVD. (Such as independent movies.)

    To me watching a DVD when you could be watching a Blu-ray is a complete waste of time... however...

    With a few exceptions, I'd probably never buy a Blu-ray disc. Even if they sold for only $10, which will never happen, it would be cheaper to rent that same Blu-ray from Netflx about 6 times. Seriously, how many movies do you watch more than 6 times?

    And I'll completely admit that you're right, the vast majority of people do not really care about the difference. And considering the price of the players and the movies, I can understand that. If Netflix didn't rent then, I wouldn't watch 'em.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 5:31am

    I remember when "high definition" TV meant you could watch "Hawaii 5-0" on your 13" black and white TV and it didn't look like Honolulu was being hit by a blizzard. So to me "high definition" means I can watch "CSI: Miami" without my glasses and still tell which one on is David Caruso. Beyond that, who cares?

    If they think that Blu-Ray is going to save the industry in a bad economy they've been sniffing paint thinner. I replaced MOST of my cassette tapes with CDs because tape degrades over time. But even if the economy was booming and I had disposable income out the wazoo I'm not going to replace perfectly serviceable DVDs with Blu-Ray just because the quality is somewhat better.

     

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    Steve C, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 5:32am

    it *is* a quantum leap

    A quantum leap is very small. I think it is accurate to describe BR as a quantum leap from DVD.

    -sc

     

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    Common Sense, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 5:42am

    Re: Seems to me that some people don't quite get it

    I do think that people understand that, and that's not what the problem is. The problem is that the improvements do NOT outweigh the costs. We need bigger and better, newer and shinier, or whatever, but when we can balance that with not breaking the bank on a whole new format, especially during tough economic times, we will. The improvement is not so noticeable that it's a must have. And with the prices right now, it's more of a 'why bother?'

     

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    Voice of Unreason, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 5:48am

    Alternatives

    >>Therefore, together with stronger anti-piracy laws, 3 strikes, throwing people into jail, international ACTA treaty etc etc, eventually, the only option for the great unwashed to get content will be to buy it in whatever format and price the movie industry wants.

    The problem is that there ARE alternatives if you don't like what the industry is selling. 1) Don't buy/rent/download movies. A lot of people are taking this alternative. More people are taking this alternative. 2) Stay with what you have. Again, lots of people are taking this approach. 3) Find a way around ATAC/DRM/whatever they come up with. A modest number of people do this, but frankly it isn't worth the trouble. In most modern countries the government does not enforce the laws; people enforce the laws. From prohibition to the 55 mph speed limit, people will not follow laws unless they agree with them.

    Basically, the recording industries are in trouble because they do not want to provide the products that consumers want.

     

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  19.  
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    Matt, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 5:51am

    BR is crap

    nobody's buying BR because they scammed the market on prices and it's not worth buying new DRM and definitely not supporting the music industry.

    I'll happily get my 1080p from piratebay.

     

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  20.  
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    Etch, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:07am

    I actually LOVE Blu-Ray

    I noticed many people here are knocking Blu-Ray without having even TRIED it!!

    People, shouldn't you at least experience something before you start blasting it to hell???

    Upscaled DVDs look nice, but Blu-Ray just looks amazing especially on a 50" + screen!
    If you are watching it on a 40" screen from the couch - unless you are right up against it - you will miss all the details, so you might as well just watch DVD!
    Blu-Ray was made to look good on HUGE screens. That was the whole point!

    And another reason I love Blu-Ray (and this to me was enough of a selling point to BUY) .. its anti-scratch!!
    FINALLY! After years of losing CDs and DVDs to scratches and scrapes and DUST(for god's sake even DUST stuck to them and attempting to remove the dust scratches the disks), they finally came out with anti-scratch surfaces, so you only have to buy something ONCE in a lifetime!

    I have 2 year old Blu-Ray disks that I literally throw on top of the counter whenever I'm done watching them without a case or cover of any kind, and I can't see a single scratch on it, works everytime!

    So yes, its a HUGE improvement, and a great selling point!

    That being said, I agree that online/streaming will be the wave of the future, but we are not there yet, at least not for HD streaming, maybe in a couple of years or when every home has a default minimum download speed of 3MBytes/sec for the cheapest connection package.

    Besides, I like owning the BBC Planet Earth blu-Ray Collection in stunning 1080p, I watch it almost on a weekly basis! So its worth it for me to own it!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:13am

    Brought to you by the "I own Sony stock club"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:34am

    BR is Sony technology, Sony are asshats!

    End of discussion!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:38am

    Re: I have bought just 1 DVD in the last 4 years.

    I too think that the combo pack that Disney just started doing that have both a Blu-Ray and a DVD are a good idea. But I think it would have been smarter to have gone with a new standard that was backward compatable. I am not going to replace all my DVD's with Blue-Ray disk, at some point (when they are cheaper) I may start buying Blue-Ray disk instead of DVD's. But I'm not going to just go out and buy a couple hundred new Blue-Ray disk and send all my DVD's to Goodwill.

     

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  24.  
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    Gary Loffler, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:39am

    I have a Blu-Ray player and while some movies on it are breath taking to watch, most aren't significantly better than the DVD cousin. The biggest problem I have is that it can take between five and ten minutes for a movie to load. First it takes about 90 seconds for the player to boot up and then when you put a disc in (Sony discs are particularly prone to this) it might overwrite your player's software with its own. Finally when it does eventually load the "special" software you are often forced to watch a blurb about how wonderful Blu-Ray is. This can be followed by trailers that you cannot skip though you might be able to fast forward through. By the time you get to the main menu, your often already half way through your popcorn. Typically you'll finish it off while the various disclaimers and copyright warnings are displayed.

    Is this enough to turn me away from Blu-Ray, no. Do I hate seeing bloatware attacking my home video collection, yes.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:43am

    does Sony deserve 1 cent from me,,



    HELL NO!

     

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  26.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:53am

    Re: I actually (don't) LOVE Blu-Ray

    I have a Blu-Ray player and I also still have an HDDVD player. From what I've seen, most Blu-Ray movies aren't any better than their upscaled DVD brethren. Take Transformers for example: I have it on all three and regretted it the first time I put it in. I got Resident Evil 2 and 3 on Blu-Ray and I'm vary disappointed. Then Iron Man comes out and I hear that it had the best picture of all the Blu-Ray movies, I get it and see it's no better than Transformers.

    I know these problems are not my TV because Serenity and King Kong on HDDVD are eye popping amazing. It just seems that Blu-Ray can't stand up to its own hype (and the consumer got screwed on more than the picture when HDDVD lost).

     

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    jonny_q, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:55am

    Ok...

    So what if people aren't upgrading their existing DVD libraries? Do they have to for BD to succeed?

    Most people don't have near the bandwidth to stream HD movies, so selling/renting plastic discs with HD content on them is still a necessary business. It's going to be a while before online services alone will be enough.

     

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  28.  
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    Matt, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 6:59am

    Blu-Ray vs Downloads?

    While I agree that Blu-Ray disc needs to be priced more competitively against DVD to become more mainstream, there's really no comparison between Blu-Ray and downloaded (particularly streamed) video. Most of the streaming video available today isn't even DVD quality, much less comparable to Blu-Ray in any way whatsoever. On my 65" TV, it makes a HUGE difference since all the compression artifacts in streamed video are easily visible. Usually you don't get a surround sound audio track either.

    I suppose I could download Blu-Ray rips via BitTorrent. Let's see, 50 gigabytes at 8 megabits/second.... 17 hours of downloading time for one movie (if I use the full pipe the whole time). Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

    As far as upconversion of standard DVDs go, the player is just inserting pixels between existing pixels and guessing where they go. The upconversion can't create more detail, only smear together the existing pixels. You might think upconverted DVD video looks great - until you look at it side-by-side with Blu-Ray.

    Then there's uncompressed audio... DVD? Nope, can't do it. Not even for standard 5.1 audio, much less 7.1 like Blu-Ray supports.

    If you are just watching on a small TV in your living room with no surround sound, regular DVD is probably totally fine. If you want to watch in more of a dedicated home theater environment with a large screen and full surround sound, Blu-Ray is going to blow DVD into the weeds.

    DVD is good, but technology moves forward.

     

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    TDR, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:30am

    And it hasn't been mentioned but completely overlooked that you DON'T have to replace your DVD collection at all. DVD's will play just fine in a BR player. DVD's will play just fine in a BR player. DVD's will play just fine in a BR player.

    Sorry to repeat it, but it some people just don't seem to get it.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:34am

    Re: I thought it was supposed to be noticeably better?

    In the vernacular, the term quantum leap has come to mean an abrupt change or "step change", especially an advance or augmentation. The term dates back to early-to-mid-20th century, coinciding with the discoveries of quantum mechanics. The popular and scientific terms are similar in that both describe a change that happens all at once (revolutionary), rather than gradually over time (evolutionary), but the two uses are different when it comes to the magnitude of the change or advance in question.

    That is to say, a quantum leap is a Big Deal, not an insignificant change, as your use seems to imply. Also, if it's video quality that's the point, using Bluray for backups is kind of backwards. Yeah, they can store more information than other plastic discs, but what's the point when you can just buy a terabyte hard-drive?

     

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  31.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:35am

    Re: Re: Seems to me that some people don't quite get it

    Yeah exactly. I'm a huge movie fan and buy several DVDs per month, not counting those that come free with newspapers and magazine occasionally. I actually prefer to watch DVD than TV, especially since I can burn through a season of a favourite show in a weekend rather than having to wait a week for the next episode. I have a collection of over 700 DVDs, collected over the last 10 years.

    But, I have no interest in buying Blu-Ray. To buy a Blu-Ray player and get the benefit out of it, I have to buy a dedicated player and upgrade both my TV and sound system. That's a couple of thousand bucks for an incremental change in sound & video quality? No thanks, I'll stick with the DVDs I can not only play on my existing TV but also play in my laptop (just as easily in Linux as Windows), my 360 (I have no interest in a PS3 unless I can pick up a cheap deal when God Of War 3 is out), easily rip to my iPod, etc.

    Maybe I'll think differently when it's time to upgrade my TV, but IMHO the benefit just isn't there compared to VHS vs DVD and in now way justifies that kind of cost to me. I'd guess a lot of people are thinking the same, especially in this economy.

    Also, it's worth pointing out that much of the inertia behind DVD sales over the last decade has been back catalogue titles and people replacing their VHS collections. Few want to upgrade their collection yet again, while most popular back catalogue titles have been re-released on DVD at least once, often 2 or 3 times. There's a limit to how many times people will buy the same movies...

     

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    DB, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:36am

    Blu Ray

    IMO most consumers that want to own a movie want it on physical media of some kind. With physical media you can grab it & take it anywhere, loan it to family & friends & not have to worry about storage space or drive failure.

    Blu Ray is a noticeable improvement over standard DVD, even when upscaled a DVD will look soft & jave some level of pixalation compared to a quality Blu Ray transfer. Just as up rezing & printing a 72 dpi jpg from the internet is not the same a 350 dpi photo.

    Even a 1080 download is going to be heavily compressed to get the file size to a reasonable download size so the same resolution is not always the same quality.

    DVD will never support the lossless audio that Blu Ray & any future phisical media can.

     

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    trollificus, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:59am

    I gotcher upgrade right here!

    I'm not upgrading ANYTHING.

    Big screen?? I sit closer to the TV. Picture quality? I avoid watching things where clear view of actor's pores is necessary to understand what's going on.

    Seriously, I can reccomend an even better "upgrade" than blu-ray. I call it "RL-ND", or "Real Life-No Disc". It has infinity colors, and infinity pixels and even better...it's 3-D!!!

    The storylines are complex and the acting realistic. For those who complain there's not enough shit blowing up and not enough great boobs in "RL-ND", I have to say a) thank God! and b) yeah, but when you DO get 'em, it's real nice.

     

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    trollificus, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:01am

    Re: I gotcher upgrade right here!

    ps) Please send me $50 for your "RL-ND" starter kit and instructions. Start enjoying the ULTIMATE PICTURE QUALITY today!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:10am

    Re: I actually LOVE Blu-Ray

    I tried It, I have a 42" lcd tv and I honestly didn't see the value.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:14am

    Re: Blu-Ray vs Downloads?

    Sir, just because technology "moves forward" doesn't mean consumer will especially when many are worried they won't have a job the next day.

     

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    vastrightwing, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:17am

    Re: Seems to me that some people don't quite get it

    People get it alright, they just don't care.

     

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    anymouse, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:26am

    You don't know the movie industry very well, do you?

    "they finally came out with anti-scratch surfaces, so you only have to buy something ONCE in a lifetime!"

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA..... That was a good one. Expecting to be able to buy a movie ONCE and being able to view it for your lifetime..... The industry middlemen don't make enough money if people only buy movies once, they expect everyone to buy the same movies at least 3-4 times over their lifetime, and you can bet they will do their best to continue this practice in the future. Don't be surprised when Blu-Ray is replaced by Red-Ray or Orange-Ray disks and all Blu-Ray players are made obsolete due to instabilities introduced into the firmware (via auto updated that have to be applied - once it's done they will claim it's a virus and they can't fix it without disabling all players).

     

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    trollificus, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:49am

    Re: You don't know the movie industry very well, do you?

    Heh. Nice example of applied cynicism there.

    And even though one doesn't have to correctly predict the future to correctly dismiss any single projected future, I'd expect that blu-ray discs will more likely be obsoleted by the complete removal of "physical media playback" mechanisms...it will all be via stream so you will not longer get to "own" any content, just (temporary) permissions to access it.

    I'll probably resist, as my history w/ physical media goes back to vinyl, but as with my preference for command line interfaces for computers, this will probably be futile.

     

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    Matt, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re: Blu-Ray vs Downloads?

    If people are worried that they won't have a job tomorrow, and that's the reason they aren't buying Blu-Ray - then they probably aren't buying DVDs either.

     

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    chris (profile), Mar 26th, 2009 @ 11:23am

    Re: People choose convenience, not quality

    amen brother.

    the future of film, music, and television is convenience. instead of investing in new formats, why not invest in amazon/netflix/pandora style search and recommendation? get people to pay you to find stuff for them and give it to them in the format they want?

     

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    Ima Fish, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 1:20pm

    Re:

    Note to self: Go back in time and convince Hollywood to only sell DVDs that degrade over time.

     

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    hegemon13, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: I actually (don't) LOVE Blu-Ray

    It sounds like your Blu-Ray player is the problem. HDDVD and Blu-Ray both use the exact same resolution (1920x1080) in a digital form. There should be no difference in quality. It is possible they used a different master for the Transformers Blu-Ray and HDDVD, but I highly doubt it.

    The consumer did get screwed, though, out of affordable players, title selection (HDDVDs were cheaper to produce, thus more likely to see indie releases and re-releases of older titles), and a player where all features worked, out of the box, in the FIRST generation (for less money).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 8:58pm

    Re:

    But do BR players upconvert the DVD's they play?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 9:03pm

    It'll only save them if people buy them...

    I can tell you from experience that depending on the title, most sell anywhere from 3-1 to 10-1 DVD over BR. Only a select few titles sell more BR than than DVD, and then maybe only 2-1 or 3-1.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Alaric, May 30th, 2009 @ 12:15am

    Re: it *is* a quantum leap

    Good one, Steve!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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