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Is Blu-ray dead already? Add to Facebook Share on Twitter

I ask only because as a person who loves to grab the latest gadgets and games I really have a hard time justifying Blu-Ray, in fact I have a hard time even considering shelling out ~£100 for a player. The format is treading familiar territory alright, optical discs from CDs to DVDs have been massive around the world, one would think that a format offering unparalleled storage space, fantastic video and sound would be lapped up by the general public, especially since Sony made the move of incorporating Blu-Ray into the PS3, a similar an identical strategy to when they backed DVD with the PS2. Read on for a more in depth look at the follies of Blu-Ray.


More is not always better
Blu-ray boasts a fantastic video experience with eye popping 1920×1080 resolution, up to 40Mbps throughput and uncompressed audio. How can anyone snub those specs? Well it would seem the average consumer is unimpressed, take for example the uncompressed audio, every time I get into a Blu-ray debate uncompressed audio is one of the main talking points, fantastic studio perfect sound can’t be bad can it? Well no but it also is not necessarily good, take for example MP3, a heavily compressed audio format that the majority of consumers have accepted as standard and easily acceptable for listening to all their music, even DVD audio is highly superior to MP3. So the question becomes: Can people tell the difference between MP3, DVD and uncompressed, and more importantly do they care?

I can safely say I for one do not. As someone with a competent audio setup with a dedicated amp and floor standing speakers MP3 is fine, DVD is fine and personally even though I’m a bit of an audiophile I’m pretty sure I would not be able to tell the difference between uncompressed and DVD. Scale that across the market and most people use only their TV’s built in speakers and I guarantee whilst I’m not a massive audiophile my auditory standards are quite far above the norm.

Next on the chopping board is the high res visuals and I’m going to fill you in on a little background first, I used to rent a room from someone and had my own 32″ HDTV wall mounted right above my computer which meant I was always sat no more than 2 feet away from it and usually less. This allowed me to experience some really stunning visuals from HD videos and I was hooked. Skip ahead a year or two and I move into a house of my own, the same 32″ TV is sat in the large living room and my viewing distance is increased to something like 6 feet. HD becomes less wow and I start thinking that maybe I need a bigger TV. At about 6 feet away from my 32″ HD still looks good but it doesn’t look “great”.

And now it comes down to justification, is the improved picture worth the extra I will have to put down for a Blu-ray player and the Blu-ray discs? For me again this is a no, sure if I had a bigger TV with 1080p suppport it might be a different story but there lies the issue with market acceptance. Although more and more people are buying HD sets there are still a great many people (I would wager a vast majority) who still have SD sets or 720p sets and have them set up in their living room sitting a good 6 or so feet away. Yet again I am a bit of an elitist when it comes to video, I loathe watching badly transferred DVDs and DIVX copies of my DVDs are just not the same! But still to me, the visual elitist I find it hard to justify shelling out for something that is marginally improving my viewing experience and will only cost me more in the long run for discs.

Versus DVD
DVD is still the biggest physical medium for video and it still has a lot to offer in the age of High Definition and Blu-ray, the biggest selling point for DVD is it’s price. Economies of scale mean that DVDs are cheaper and easier to buy than ever but Blu-ray is still more expensive making Blu-ray more of an indulgence. So what are the compelling reasons to indulge?

Well the video and audio has been discussed above and they apply equally to DVD. But there is another dimension to DVD which narrows the gap and that is up-scaling, DVDs have a lot of untapped bitrate squeezed in there and DVD is the perfect candidate for reprocessing to HD resolutions. Anyone who has an Xbox can tell you of the fantastic job it does of up-scaling DVDs, personally I can’t live without my 360, it makes DVDs look so crisp and clear and gives them quality approaching HD. This is another barrier in the adoption of Blu-ray, DVDs for me still look fantastic when up-scaled and narrow that important gap of how much better Blu-ray actually looks. Again for me on my 32″ that far away the difference between DVD and Blu-ray is getting even more minimal.

The competition
Here is the real clincher for me and probably the most important hurdle for Blu-ray to overcome, yes Blu-ray saw of HD-DVD as a competitor but though this might have seemed as the battle won it is only the beginning of the fight for Blu-ray. Since DVD was launched the market has been changing rapidly and adopting less conventional means of getting their media. Itunes alone has shifted over ten billion songs and are now offering HD content without the need for any hardware. The Xbox 360 is in 35 million homes and offers on demand 1080p streaming of the latest movies, not to mention the multitude of cable, satellite and terrestrial HD mediums.

Do people really want to go out and buy a brand new Blu-ray player for ~£100 and then buy physical media for £15 a pop when they can use their existing games console, PC or television provider to stream those movies for a third of the price. In today’s on demand culture I think people are questioning how often they actually watch the DVDs they buy and for some it may only be once or twice anyway and when you have the choice to be able to watch that movie at any time without having to pop out to the shops it becomes a much easier sell. Of course for those that watch films over and over again, or just love to watch them a lot Blu-ray may be a good choice for now.

Conclusion
I didn’t think I would need a whole conclusion section but I have rattled on for so long I think I need to wrap things up. Taking all of the above into account for me it is hard to justify investing in Blu-ray in the near future or maybe ever, HD streaming is only going to become more popular and the vendors are only going to multiply. This coupled with the negligible advantages Blu-ray offers leads me to think that Blu-ray will never reach the saturation of DVD or will ever gain true market acceptance as a mainstream product and maybe make in a niche for videophiles.

Let me know what you think.

Comments 8
Posted 8/4/2010 Views 2,953  
  1. Jun 12th, 2012 at 21:39 | #1

    I think from a consumer standpoint Blu-Ray will always be a hard sell. At home i only have 1 blu-ray player, and like the article stated… at 6 to 8 feet away, i can hardly see a difference in the up converted DVD stream vs the Blu-ray stream. About the only time i can see the difference is watching one of my sons animated cartoons inHD. Traditional movies, even those now shot in a digital format don’t offer enough of a resolution boost for the viewing distance to make the investment worth it. And yes, streamed IP media is the future and we all know it.

    I am also a huge audiophile, and i still use RCA hookups (shame on me for not using Digital or optical lines! what? it still sounds great, lol)
    I will say however, as a 15 year video pro i don’t want to see blu-ray go anywhere. I love the format for my post production work flow. The media isn’t too terribly expensive when compared to other large storage formats such as solid state or traditional spinning hard drive discs and arrays.

    This said, it has not replaced my drive storage for media. Rather, its provided a remarkably robust redundant backup at a fraction of what we would be spending on hard drives and arrays. We shoot to card media, this $$ card media is then transferred to a long term hard drive for storage, and a second copy is generated to blu-ray for working. We can then abuse these discs until the media becomes un recoverable and simply make a new copy from the archived hard drive. Wow, good by magnetic tape for ever! (i still have a DVC, beta and 1″ tape library in the back office).

    We are more than willing to sacrifice the slightly slower transfer speeds when capturing media off the blu-ray vs the fortune it would cost to keep this media backed up on 2 drive units. Keep in mind we are not writing a authored disc… simply utilizing the insane amount of storage in a data format to make a replica of the card used to film.

    I feel that if Blu-Ray is going to stick around, they need to start attacking it from a PC/Mac drive storage solution standpoint for consumers, not authored HD Video.

  2. admin
    Jun 5th, 2012 at 20:47 | #2

    I need to write an update about this, I now have 2 Blu-Ray players down from 3 😮

  3. paul freeman
    May 12th, 2012 at 14:43 | #3

    I prefer DVD, Blu Ray is a format that has taken off in the same way as DVD. most people don’t want to replace their collection of dvds so the stick with a format that is tried and tested. plus you can upscale DVD, so buying Blu Ray becomes insignificant.

  4. Hiroshi Mishima
    May 4th, 2012 at 00:30 | #4

    Well, it’s 2012, and I’ve still not owned a single Blu-Ray DVD or player, not even a PS3 (cause I don’t have that kinda money). I have not missed out on a single movie I’ve been interested in, nor do I feel I’ve been left behind, unlike the way VHS users felt when DVD was introduced. We’ll see how I feel in another 5 years.. I didn’t go pro-DVD until maybe 2004 and kept watching my old VHS tapes until maybe 2007.
    But as far as I’m concerned, Blu-Ray was dead to me the moment it came out. The obscene price for anything related to it (maybe not so bad TODAY, but when you don’t have a lotta money, it’s a huge difference) certainly didn’t help sway my decision. Plus, I don’t have an HD TV and don’t play to get one in the foreseeable future. Honestly, I wish the Xbox 360 games had better text display, as that’s my only real concern.. but that kinda thing has ALWAYS been a concern on TVs, regardless of whether they’re new or old. :p
    I also never saw much quality difference between DVD and Blu-ray, so that was another big contributing factor.

  5. Wade Duck
    Jul 19th, 2011 at 23:01 | #5

    Let’s see. Are you willing to (1) buy a whole new tv, (2) buy a whole new system, and (3) pay twice as much for your films when there’s nothing really wrong with the system you are using? 

    Why do we need to convert to blu ray? (1) The discs are much easier to scratch; (2) often you can’t play the disc right away. It often has to be registered first; (3) the picture quality is not that much better.

     Oh! That’s right! For $50. or $60. you can buy an upgrader. A one time fee, and you have the better quality, and you don’t have to worry about buying any of your dvds again.

    Step away from those dishonest blu ray commercials and ask yourself if there was really anything wrong with your current system of dvd? 

    In times to come, streaming and downloading will enter the market. So not only is blu ray failing to knock out the old dvd, but it is losing ground to the new trend of streaming.

      

  6. Mike
    May 15th, 2011 at 07:46 | #6

    Thank you for writing this! Very insightful!

  7. Michael
    Feb 24th, 2011 at 12:56 | #7

    Very good article.  I completely agree that the advantages of blu-ray are simply not worth it for the majority of people.  I also agree with Gunn that owning physical media is important.  However, I think we will eventually see the best of both worlds after blu-ray dies – probably first – and DVD follows shortly thereafter. 

    The answer is media on a chip.  With chip capacities increasing dramatically since they started, my guess is we’ll soon be enjoying ultra-HD movies with near-perfect audio not too long from now.

    Two great advantages of chip media: 1) It’s still “physical”, 2) it takes very little storage place. 

  8. Gunn
    Jan 27th, 2011 at 10:32 | #8

    I suppose the leap from VHS to DVD was far greater than that of DVD to BluRay but the format was at the end of its useful life, I myself am happier than bluray stops the need for multi-disc movies or games. Maybe if it had been called DVD+ instead people would be more inclined to upgrade. Anyway as time goes on it will become cheaper and I can’t see any other physical media competing. HD Streaming is fine when you have a good reliable connection but I definitely prefer owning something physical.

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Posted: Last modified: September 6, 2010 @ 8:30 am