Buyers beware. Before you go out and buy that new Blu-ray scanning device Sony just released or the HD-DVD scanner for the $400-600 retail price, remember Beta. The Beta machine came out in the late ’70s, a product endeavor from Sony. Before it came, no one was able to record their favorite shows on TV.
What looked like a great idea for a machine soon became obsolete. The next venture in recorded video was the VHS, included with the VCR. They weren’t so much clearer than Beta as they offered longer recording time (“SP”, “LP”, “SLP”, etc.).
Now, after 10 years of reliable DVD use, people are being asked to sit through another product war, where the winner will decide for them what name their next home video player shall have. Sony’s Blu-ray vs HD-DVD, a system backed by multiple companies. Perhaps you’ve noticed two very different kinds of DVD box cases on the shelves, featuring some of the newest and most popular films. Blu-ray has a metallic blue strip across the top, and HD-DVD has a grey strip across the top of their case covers. Don’t be fooled. Neither Blu-ray nor HD-DVD released movies will play on your household DVD player.
The Blu-ray technology is built on the same technology that the standard red-eye laser your DVD or CD players use today. Although the Blu-ray technology is designed to focus finer and the HD technology requires more layers of data in the disk to bring you the sharper image and better sound quality, it’s not possible to get the same clarity on a standard television. Where I was lucky enough to own one, I know that those millions of people who can’t afford to own a HDTV won’t be able to enjoy all this new technology has to offer.
You go to the store, you buy one of those expensive new systems, you plug it into your TV, and you don’t get a picture. Then, all you can do is pray the return policy still applies or else you’re out $400-600 or more.
Sure, they are the newest, greatest in sound and picture quality. You can purchase the HD-DVD at your local Wal-Mart stores. Other companies to acquire either system is Circuit City, Best Buy or at any Sony outlet store. The company should have the product on display. Of course, they will be playing the Blu-ray or HD-DVD on the big high-definition TV screen with the greatest sound equipment your ears have ever been subjected to. If they’re not available at any local stores, you can go to the right websites, and find the Blu-ray or HD-DVD online.
*Digital Photo Viewer (jpeg), so you can enjoy digital photos on your TV.
*MP3 Playback, with the unit capable of playing MP3 files from CD-R/-RW, DVD-R/-RW/-RAM and Memory Cards.
*Memory Card Capability, with the unit compatible with 10 types of memory cards: Compact Flash, Micro Drive, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick Pro Duo, Secure Digital, Multi Media, Mini SD, and RS MMC.
*Disc compatibility: BD-ROM, BD-RE, BD-R, DVD-Video, Audio CD, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R, and CD-R/-RW, DVD-RAM/-RW/-R.
*Video resolutions of 1920×1080 HD and 1280×720 HD.
*HDMI outputs of 1080p, 1080i and 720p (Blu-ray) and the same plus 480p (SD).
*Disc reading speeds of 4.9917m/sec (Blu-ray) and 3.49-4.06m/sec (SD).
*Audio output of up to 32 streams in frequencies of 48kHz and 96kHz, 100db dynamic range.
*16.9(W) x 12.8 (D) x 3.1 (H) inch unit that weighs 9.3 pounds.
*AC 120V-60Hz power requirements, 51 W power consumption.
*One year warranty on parts, 90 days on labor.
But, as I said before – buyers beware.
The HD or Blu-ray DVDs only play in HD or Blu-ray players. The only upside is that the DVDs already in your possession actually do play in these new systems. But as any advertising agency would say, why bother doing that when you can have much better video and audio experiences with those DVDs designed specifically for the system?
Let’s look back at all of the other quick, unmarketable technologies over the years and compare. The laserdisc, a machine that can play CDs and big, awkward disks that divides the film into two, three or four sides. It was the vinyl records of video and audio technology. Where a DVD’s recorded video gets a quick pass, laserdisc scanned all of the ones and zeros, bit for bit. The debate over the quality of CDs and vinyl records changed to the picture and sound of a movie. Then, came the first DVD and it was supposed to be the greatest revolution in the industry – if only people had the money.
Could this Blu-ray or HD-DVD be the next Divx?
When Divx first came out, it was the newer cheaper DVD. The only hitch was that you could only play it a few times before they just stopped working. There were recalls. There were angry consumers. Now, most people probably don’t even remember it.
Next was “the red one,” sold at your local convenience stores. Since DVDs were still so expensive, the people wanted something they could afford that might actually be better than the previous Divx disappointment. However, as consumers soon found out, these disks would quickly degrade, and all of the superior picture and sound would be lost.
These business ventures could be called merchandising blunders. The concern I have for the average consumer is whether or not they’ll be better off with the newer and better technologies, when they can get such great quality from what they already own with the standard DVD players. When this war in technology is over, is the consumer going to lose a great deal of money in buying into a dead system – whether the winner is Sony’s Blu-ray or the HD-DVD? Will we the consumers ultimately be the losers?