GAIN11

The Art & Science of Audio & Video

Will Blu-Ray Ever Have It’s Day?

Ever since Blu-Ray put an end to the Hi-Def DVD format war (if you want to call it that, it was more like a skirmish) the new question has been will it succeed? And by succeed I mean achieve the same level of market saturation that DVD did. It my humble opinion I think not.

With the introduction of DVD we not only saw quantum leap forward in video quality but it could be appreciated on a culmination of fifty years worth of TV’s. DVD’s looked better on every TV, to varying degrees of course. With Blu-Ray we’ve made the same quantum leap forward in video quality but it is dependent on a number of variables. The most obvious of which is whether or not your TV is capable of the high resolution required to appreciate the improvements in Blu-Ray. Secondly are you capable of seeing the difference regardless of format or display. I’ll explain my self. Recently during a family gathering I took advantage of my unsuspecting family and used them as a test panel. Using the same movie we started by using a Panasonic production studio grade SVHS player. I played the beginning two minutes of a movie and then immediately switched to a Reference grade Sony DVD player and played the same clip. Lots of oohs and aahs as everyone could immediately see and appreciate the difference from the SVHS to the DVD. Lastly was the Blu-Ray version of the same clip using a Sony player and the results were mixed. My parents from both sides of the family (ages 58-64) and my grandmother (age 84) confidently said they could not see a difference. My wife and her sister and her husband commented maybe a little better but said they would not have noticed if we would not have been doing the comparison. The only family members that definitely said they could see the difference were two cousins (one 28, one 30) and my self. So out of ten people only three were able to quantify the visual improvement by going to Blu-Ray. Where as seven of those ten saw the difference between SVHS and DVD as night and day and the difference between DVD and Blu-Ray as negligible or not at all. Now just so everyone’s aware this was on a Runco 1080p plasma. Leaving me to believe that on a $2k plasma the difference would be even less noticeable and we won’t even discuss 720p models.

Don’t misinterpret this as questioning the quality and or validity of Blu-Ray. I love it and enjoy it thoroughly. However referring back to my initial question of will it ever achieve the same success as DVD my answer remains a confident, no. The improvement in quality or interpreted quality is only one of the many obstacles Blu-Ray will have to overcome. The record companies have been singing the blues for years now as they have succumb to the explosion in popularity of downloads. CD sales have plummeted and there is no anticipation of a rebound.

You also have to consider the cost of a Blu-Ray player verses an upconverting DVD player. Just as with any new technology we know the prices will come down with time. However can they reach a more acceptable price point in time. The video industry is witnessing technology advance at blinding speeds and the pipeline is always full of new technologies banging down the door. In addition to prototypes just beginning to emerge Blu-Ray already has to contend with another monster looming in the dark and that is the newest video technology on the block known as 4K. The 4K technology boasts four times the resolution of high definition and this is NOT vaporware as many think. In fact it is very likely that when you go to you new local movie theater you are viewing a movie in 4K via a digital projector, most of which are being provided by Christie. The studios have already agreed on 4K as the new standard format and have been producing features in 4K for about two years now. I have tried to get a count on the number of movies produced in the format just to get a better feel for its market penetration but so far these statistics have been hard to come by.

PS3 may have been the driving force behind Blu-Ray coming out on top but will gamers purchase enough movies to sustain the format?  Only time will tell for sure, but it’s quite possible we may see Blu-Ray deep six along with it’s one time competitor HDDVD.  Will this be Sony’s Beta for the 21st century?

by Jason Levert

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May 26, 2008 - Posted by | A/V News | , , , , , , , , , ,

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