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Old 02-21-2008   #1
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Default Blu-ray Wins! But The Real Format War Has Only Just Begun

Cue the Karen Carpenter and skip a meal or two (or 12) because while Blu-ray won the HD disc war in impressive fashion, the battle has only just begun. With Toshiba out of the way via their Kevorkian-esque execution of HD DVD this week, Blu-ray doesn’t have to worry about another HD disc competitor in the marketplace. However, the king of the marketplace is still solidly the DVD, and Blu-ray needs to whack that format next.

DVD will be hard to beat, but not impossible by any means, on a number of levels despite the incredibly long list of reasons why Blu-ray makes for a more impressive video experience. DVD players are cheap and Blu-ray players relatively are not, even in comparison to HD DVD players, which are still being sold because they are pretty solid upconverting DVD players. DVD players load quickly and Blu-ray players do not. Load times on DVD players speak to a marketplace that doesn’t have much patience while Blu-ray players take what seems like an eternity to load, even with their improved times. Most DVD players can play any disc currently on the market while Blu-ray players frequently cannot. DVD players do not stereotypically require firmware updates while most of today’s Blu-ray players do require such upgrades on a monthly basis to try to keep up with a moving specification for the format. DVD players are sold everywhere, while the likes of Costco and other HDTV-centric warehouse retailers have yet to start supporting the format, although they likely will sooner than later.

Sony, Matsu****a, Samsung and the other electronics companies who are powering Blu-ray to its success must address these shortcomings in the Blu-ray value proposition as quickly as possible. Sony proved it is possible with their rollout of Playstation 3, even when the game console wasn’t profitable. They too can make Blu-ray players reliable, affordable and better in every way than a DVD player.

Assuming Blu-ray takes over for DVD, as it very well should, Blu-ray isn’t out of the woods. Everyone in the AV business, as well as in the Hollywood studio system knows that downloadable HD movies are coming sooner than later. The Blu-ray camp has to be wary of their “partner,” Apple's Steven Jobs. While the Apple logo has looked good on the HD disc format war ledger (note: Jobs currently has zero computers on the market with a Blu-ray drive.) (Also note: his current sex-on-a-stick MacBook Air laptop doesn’t even have a disc drive at all – perfect for downloads.) (Lastly note: Jobs will be selling $2.99 "HD downloads" in an i-Tunes-like store that will allow you to access 720p (not 1080p like Blu-ray) files that you can download on a fast connection in about 30 minutes and watch throughout your house, on your Mac, and beyond.)

Where consumers need to be educated and why home theater enthusiasts need to pull for Blu-ray is the idea that Steven Jobs has proven he is willing to compromise quality for convenience and have the balls to call it "HD." Make no mistake. 720p video is not as good as 1080p. It isn’t as bad as the idea of Apple selling people 256 kbps music downloads and calling them HD, but consumers should know the difference. Home theater and video enthusiasts should be throwing a fit over the difference thus educating the masses as best they can.

Today is the day the people on the fence about HD disc formats need to step up and plunk down $300 to $400 for a Blu-ray player. Waiting isn’t worth it when a 1080p HD promised land is so attainable. Today’s Blu-ray players are not perfect and future players will surely improve, but it is also important to support true high-resolution video. Satellite HDTV isn’t 1080p, but your HDTV likely is. Apple won’t launch with 1080p. They will have 720p. Why should you have to sacrifice video quality when the buy-in is so low? HDTV isn’t about sacrifice. HDTV is about absolute performance, and Blu-ray is the best option (a little) money can buy. And AVRev.com is recommending you do just that.

by: Jerry Del Colliano
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