19 February 2008

Now That the Format Wars are Over . . .

. . . Toshiba has cried uncle, and Sony has won, they didn't get Betamaxed this time, largely in part (I think), to their huge gamble in using Blu-Ray as the disc format for the PS3.

When that move was first announced, most industry watchers thought that was a mistake, drove the price up too high, and would limit their game system to too few homes to make a profit. But now it looks like a brilliant move, and they might even start getting licensing money from Microsoft if they come out with an add-on Blu-Ray player for the XBox360 later in the year (as some are expecting them to do).

From a consumer standpoint, it really doesn't matter, if you don't have an HDTV, then it definitely doesn't matter, and even if you do, unless it's bigger than 42 inches, the difference in picture quality between a good DVD upsampling player and true 1080p HD isn't something that a lot of consumers will pay much attention to.

Most people aren't going to rebuy all the DVDs they've collected over the years, and for most films rebuying would be kind of silly.

But certain films do look stunning in Blu-Ray, action pictures, epics, and Pixar stuff looks best on the format. Great films that are more story driven, it won't matter. Your enjoyment of Office Space won't be improved if they ever come out with a Blu-Ray version. All those Criterion collection black and white foreign pictures are going to look better if they ever bother coming out with new Blu-Ray versions, but the difference won't be enough to bother picking up another copy of 400 Blows or Rashomon (OK, maybe Rashomon, if they use a really, really, really pristine print for the transfer, and you have an HDTV that handles contrast well).

The studios will probably start releasing back catalog stuff on Blu-Ray by this fall. In the meantime, if you've recently made the jump to Blu-Ray, or plan on doing it soon, do yourself a favor and pick up that Blade Runner boxset, Kung Fu Hustle, Paprika, T2, and The Wild Bunch.

That should be enough to blow your socks off and have you panting for more.


bill said...

Very interesting. You know what would be great? I'm hoping we're at least 4 years away from replacing our 6 year old television, so if you could update this about every 6 months or so, that would be fantastic.

It would keep me up-to-date on the format wars big picture until the current appliance dies.

bill said...

The next format war?