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Blu-ray Is Worth Fighting For

Sep 15, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jason Bovberg

The next evolutionary step in HD video is upon us … don’t miss it!

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I’ve watched the next-generation DVD format war unfold with great interest. The conflict—which amounted to a couple years of hostile sniping and maneuvering—had many of us on the edge of our seats. From the lowly tape-based VHS format, through the unwieldy laser disc, through the promising but limited DVD, we had been inching ever closer to that Holy Grail: absolutely film-like resolution and presentation of movies in the home. Both Blu-ray and HD DVD promised to achieve that goal.

I sided with HD DVD, believing that its common-sense name and Microsoft allegiance would carry the day. Plus, I got the player for an incredible bargain, along with a bunch of free movies. It was an easy way to dive into high-definition DVD, to see if it was a big deal at all. Boy, did I love it! On my 1080p plasma, the imagery was breathtaking. For the first time, I was watching resolution equal to that of film—in the comfort of my living room—and I was hooked.

Then, abruptly, HD DVD failed.

I’ve been burned before. For example, the home-entertainment industry hasn’t exactly been kind to audiophiles; instead, it has catered more to the casual listener. I bought into Digital Audio Tape (DAT) when that was a rising audio format (it’s now completely dead), and I invested in both DVD-Audio (DVD-A) and Super Audio CD (SACD) when those formats were embroiled in their own high-def war—I purchased a dual-format player, figuring I’d win either way. Unfortunately, both formats died a slow consumer death and are now relegated to the niche market. Instead of high-resolution music thrumming in living rooms around the world, we have a nation of low-res iPod owners.

But there was considerably more strength behind the high-def video movement. We all knew that either Blu-ray or HD DVD would prevail, didn’t we? So, when HD DVD took its sudden nosedive after the format war, Blu-ray was positioned to take the market by storm. It was built in to the popular Sony PlayStation 3, it was bolstered by studio support (with many studios already flooding the market with Blu-ray Discs), and Blu-ray was just about the only viable HD source material with which to take full advantage of those luminous 1080p plasma and LCD displays that were flying off shelves.

I myself invested in a standalone Blu-ray player (to accompany my sad HD DVD unit), eagerly hooked it up, bought a couple of discs on sale, plunked in The Blu-ray Disc of I Am Legend, and found the image to be just as stupendous. The experience hit me in the chest all over again. I knew deep in my heart that Blu-ray’s success was absolutely inevitable. A cinch.

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