10 Reasons Why You NEED To Be an Early Adopter of HD Discs (Blu-ray and HD DVD) 
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Written by Jerry Del Colliano   
Thursday, 01 June 2006

10 Reasons Why You NEED To Be an Early Adopter of HD Discs (Blu-ray and HD DVD)
June, 2006
By Jerry Del Colliano

1. High Definition Video is many times better than DVD. Unless you are legally blind, you can see the vast difference between DVD video at 480i and the HD disc formats at 1080i. Would it be better if the players reproduced 1080p? Of course, but how many of us have 1080p HDTVs throughout our homes? It’s tough enough to convert to all HDTV sets capable of 1080i. And when you get down to it, the difference between 1080i and 1080p is noticeable but miniscule when compared to the difference between a DVD and an HD disc.

2. The Music Industry Has Abandoned You. It’s true. After decades of leaning on terrestrial radio and MTV for free advertising, the music business has given up on selling the best available sound quality due to fears that you might copy it. In fact, they are perfectly okay with reverting their business model back to the mid-1950s, when they only sold singles. No wonder their domestic sales have shrunk from over 30 billion dollars per year to about 11 billion per year today. The cause of the roll off in sales isn’t Napster, as each and every know-it-all music executive will swear to you. It is the fact that the CD isn’t worth the money it costs. If you have hopes of ever getting the incredible audio potential of Blu-ray and/or HD-DVD, you need to be considering a player. With 50 megabytes of storage, a 24-192 stereo track and any number of compressed and uncompressed 5.1 surround sound versions of an album fit easily on a disc. How do HD versions of music videos, concerts and ultra-high-resolution still photos sound to you? Trust me, people – the music executives need you to clobber them over the head with support for high-res formats or they will let Hollywood make all of the money.

3. Compressed Video on DVD Looks Like Crap. Even with the best video scalers, DVD video simply cannot compete with the quality of HD video at 1080i. Compression is compression. In a recent comparison I made of Blu-ray vs. DVD video, I could clearly see the difference between DVD and Blu-ray. DVD looked like watching a movie through someone else’s glasses. Blu-ray looked like you were watching it as a bystander on the set.

4. Your HDTV is Hungry for New Content. On any given night, your HDTV has a number of HD options to choose from. On the weekend, the major HDTV sporting events can be stunning to watch. On a weeknight, the pickings get much slimmer. Sports in standard definition are hard to watch once you have tasted the sweet nectar of HDTV sports live. While you can still see some of the grain of the film on some HDTV transfers to HD disc formats, it is still an awakening when you compare an HD disc to a DVD. You can learn to live with a little grain on “Apollo 13” in comparison to the cloudiness you see on 480p DVDs, even those scaled to 1080p.

5. Without Players Being Sold, Studios Are Less Likely To Release Their Vast Catalogues. Sony Pictures alone has over 3,000 movies mastered in 1080p, with most in some format of surround sound. Add to that another 2,000 TV shows ready to go in the same format and you can see from one Hollywood studio alone the volume of titles that could be on the street in a matter of a year or two. With no players sold, the studio will look to sell their HD movies to Starz and HBO instead of selling product directly to you.

6. Movies in HD on Satellite and Cable Are More Compressed Than on an HD Disc Like Blu-Ray or HD DVD. Even in 2006, the pipe is only so wide, allowing only so many zeros and ones to flow to your home for Internet access, as well as for HDTV content. This is the main reason why all channels aren’t in HDTV. Perhaps DirecTV’s new MPG4 satellite system will allow dramatically more HDTV channels in the coming years, but right now, an HD movie from the bird or over digital cable is far more compressed than one on an HD DVD or Blu-ray disc. At the same time, 1080i outputs from players don’t have the ultimate resolution of 1080p, but few viewers at this point have TVs that are able to accept such a feed. Could future players be 1080p-capable? Without question. Would scaling from 1080i to 1080p look better than scaling from 480i to 1080p? Without question.

7. HD DVD and Blu-ray Are a Good Value. Compared to a night out at the movies, even a $30 early HD DVD movie is a good value. Between parking, a few sodas, some popcorn and the tickets, a $30 HD DVD seems like a bargain. When you consider you get to keep a damn near master-quality copy of the film for future viewing, the value gets even better.

8. You Can Rent HD DVD Discs. Netflix rents HD DVD discs and you should expect them to rent Blu-ray titles as well. This means even if you don’t want to collect movies at $30 per title, you can enjoy them at the highest level of video resolution commercially available (show me anybody with native 1080p sources who doesn’t work in Hollywood and have access to video editing equipment).

9. High-End Players Won’t Be Released Without Early Adopter Support. High-end audio snobs will latch onto DVD like they have with LPs and CDs, but those of us who can hear and see the difference and who are willing to pay for the conglomerate of all of the little differences will want a high-end player. With no early adopter support, fewer and fewer OEM transports will be available. High-end companies will simply wait it out to see how the format war settles. For the price of a nice RCA interconnect in an audiophile system, early adopters have the ability to cast their votes in the format war. If you think your vote doesn’t count – it does. Do your part, pay your $500 and make the policy. Those who say wait and see deserve to watch DVDs at 480i. You deserve low-compression 1080i and in the near future, 1080p!

10. With Enough Support, Studios Will Continue To Release Titles Without “Flagging.” Nobody wants their discs “down-rezed” to 480p because their HDTV doesn’t have HDCP encryption. Studios know this and have fought the urge to add such flags to their titles. If one of the HD formats takes off, it will be hard both legally and economically for studios to try to sneak in any flagging and/or down-rezing features on discs. If nobody cares about the formats or everyone takes a “wait and see” approach to the new formats, the studio are more likely to try a dirty trick like flagging.

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