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Blu-ray Pulls Up a Seat at the HD Table

2 Jun, 2008 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Why is there so much negativity about Blu-ray Disc?

Skeptical analysts say player prices are too high for the format to gain mass acceptance, failing to note that hardware prices have dropped a lot faster than anyone anticipated. They're also overlooking the fact that CE manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in Blu-ray technology and can't be expected to give away the farm this early in the game.

Other so-called experts say it's all in vain anyway and the future lies with digital downloading, even though electronic sellthrough movie sales remain miniscule and, if anything, are trending downward (average movie sales through Apple's iTunes fell sharply last year, despite escalating hype).

And then there are letters from consumers such as the one I received last week, blasting the studios for “forcing” consumers to transition, yet again, from one format to another, and calling me the “enemy of humanity” for talking up Blu-ray Disc.

Whoa, everyone. Have we all forgotten that the root of Blu-ray Disc, and high-definition packaged media in general, is nothing more sinister than the realization that consumers are buying HDTVs, that broadcasters and cablers are switching to high-def programming, and standard DVD is not high-definition?

The only thing the studios are doing is taking their rightful seat at the HD table, and giving consumers the opportunity to purchase movies in true high-definition. No one's forcing anyone to buy Blu-ray — it's merely a choice that owners of HDTVs may want to make if they want the highest possible picture quality around.

Don't see the difference? Then don't buy it. No one's taking standard DVD away — in fact, there are still far more catalog titles being reissued on DVD as special editions, or debuting on DVD, than there are on Blu-ray. DVD is still the lifeblood of home entertainment, and most likely it will be for years to come.

Blu-ray is a choice, an option, for consumers who want it. It's a choice I made as soon as I got a HDTV just before Christmas, and I'm glad I did. I've become a diehard Blu-ray fan to the point where I wouldn't even watch the DVD of Cloverfield because I want my first taste of the film to be Blu-ray, and the Blu-ray version isn't out yet.

It's important to note that Blu-ray isn't a replacement technology. It's a superior product to standard DVD, custom made for HDTVs.

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