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Blu-ray and the Twinkle in David Hasselhoff's Eye

8 Jun, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

For me, when it comes to any new technology, it's context that wins over concept.

I enjoyed Sony's presentation that showed just how close to the original master print Blu-ray is, and how “lacking” standard-def DVD quality is.

It was all right there in split screen as SPHE's Don Eklund paused the trailer for Click on a close-up of David Hasselhoff. The screen was split down the middle to display the film's high-def digital master on the right, and the DVD version on the left.

There was Hasselhoff, with his cream cheese smile, one eye twinkling. That's right, the twinkle was totally missing from the DVD side of the screen.

But, then, in the same shot split down the middle comparing Blu-ray and the original film element, there it was, the twinkle was back in the left eye. Both of Hasselhoff's baby blues were sparkling in all their glory.

To think, on standard-definition DVD, we just won't see that twinkle at all. It's a travesty.

In all seriousness, while I find demos like this to be very illuminating, it's seeing the hardware, getting close to it and interacting with it a bit that puts it all in context.

Last week, Sony also showed off setups of its upcoming Blu-ray players, hooked up to Sony HDTV sets, awesome sound systems and playing Blu-ray discs. Much as I appreciate the enhanced picture quality of David Hasselhoff's smile and all the other things we're missing on regular old DVD, I don't quite care until it makes sense on a very personal level.

If I can look at something and see how it might fit into my life, my lifestlyle or my home, it's has much more impact.

I especially felt like this while looking over and playing a bit on the new Sony VAIO computers, which will come factory installed with Blu-ray playback, HD monitors and HD recording capability.

I can see how a product like that could fit into my lifestyle. As one of the Sony hands on deck at the event put it, it's perfect for a new generation of entertainment lovers, ones that aren't interested in constraining themselves only to the TV set. Variety, flexibility, versatility, those are the order of the day.

I think Sony execs are right, I think the VAIO could very well become a sleeper in the high-def format war.

But I think there are more consumers like me than not out there, and for us, what's really going to sell either format is context.

It will be very interesting to see how manufacturers and retailers come together to present that context to the consumer in the coming months.

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