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5 Strategies for Blu-ray Collecting and DVD Retiring

Aug 16, 2010 12:43 PM, By Jason Bovberg


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You’re probably like me. You’re not new to home theater. You became fully engaged in the possibility of home cinema about when DVD surged onto the scene back in the late 1990s—or perhaps even earlier. Maybe you had a fabulous man-cave equipped with a laser-disc player and stereo analog audio equipment. Or if you’re of an older generation, maybe you enjoyed 8mm films on a pull-down screen with tiny mono sound in a dedicated basement room. Snazzy!

But regardless of when the notion of home cinema occurred to you, you’ve amassed an enormous collection of media. You probably still have a number of VHS tapes in your collection, and—again, if you’re like me—you’ve been known to look at them with something akin to contempt. You collected those ridiculous things for years, simply because they ruled the home-video roost, and now they’re about as relevant as 8-track tapes. You knew all along that the format would ultimately give way to something that brought real home-video quality to the home, but you bought them anyway. Today, you might not even have a working VCR in the house, but that old VHS collection still haunts you. And maybe the story is the same for your old laser discs; those behemoth platters were once the prize of elitist collectors, but now they collect dust in pawn shops across the country. Purists may hang on to those collections, too, but let’s face it: They’re old, old news.

Have we come to the same place—yet again—with DVD?

Over the past decade, I’ve built a sizeable DVD collection. I’ve invested a lot of cash into this collection, which numbers into the hundreds. Admittedly, this collection has given me a lot of joy, and of course the studios rely on the fact that we consumers will re-buy the same content on ever-changing forms of home-theater media. But that DVD collection is quite a weight on my back as I enjoy each new Blu-ray Disc. Yes, the transition from DVD to Blu-ray had been particularly difficult for this collector, especially as I re-buy movies that I’ve already purchased three or four times! I have multiple DVD and Blu-ray incarnations of more than a few films now, and the thought of that gives me significant pause. I suppose the hard-to-swallow aspect of this transition is that, as recently as five years ago, I was convinced that DVD was as good as it was going to get. I was happily buying movies, concerts, and documentaries on DVD, reveling in them despite their minor video/audio compression shortcomings.

Now, Blu-ray has come along and ruined everything. Don’t get me wrong: Blu-ray has ruined everything in an extremely pleasing way, but it has still ruined everything. Every double-dip (or triple-dip or quadruple-dip) stabs me in the heart—and in the wallet.

With those thoughts in mind, I’ve had to come up with a sensible strategy for both collecting new-format media and retiring the old-school media. Here are some thoughts I’ve developed as I’ve attempted to deal with the mixed blessing of Blu-ray eclipsing DVD.

1. Keep the DVDs

When I really step back and ponder my DVD collection, I realize that it’s not a format (like VHS) to sneeze at. DVDs offer great (if not excellent) reproductions of the content I love, and they sometimes have an abundance of special features that their Blu-ray counterparts don’t reproduce. And even in cases in which the Blu-ray Disc completely eclipses the DVD, making the previous-generation media seem totally superfluous, remember that you probably have more than one TV and DVD player in the house. I keep all my DVDs for enjoyment elsewhere—in the bedroom, in the living room, on the laptop, and in the car. In some cases, when storage space is a factor, I’ve been known to discard the DVD case and throw the DVD (in an envelope) into the Blu-ray case. And, heck, most of my DVDs still look absolutely fine in my home theater. I’ll really only upgrade titles that I love and want to experience in high definition; other titles that I rarely rewatch are perfectly suitable on DVD.

2. TV on DVD is fine as it is

A decision I’ve recently made regarding the whole double-dip concept is that I will not re-buy TV shows on Blu-ray. I have complete collections of many TV series (including The Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks, Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld, and 30 Rock) on DVD, and not only will I not repurchase these shows on Blu-ray, but I doubt I’ll ever watch my existing DVDs downstairs in my large front-projection home theater. It just doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t compute. Instead, I’ll keep watching the shows on my smaller LCD upstairs (or even on the bedroom tube set), where I watch regular TV. At least to my way of thinking, TV shows—particularly the older 4:3 format shows—just make more sense in the family room.

3. Buy low

It took a while, but Blu-ray Discs are plummeting in price. At first, I wasn’t sure that would ever happen; two years ago, these premium discs sported premium price tags. But now, as the format is increasingly adopted by the masses, Blu-ray titles can be found quite readily for 50 percent off list price—or more. Much more. In the case of older, catalog titles, Blu-ray Discs are frequently available for less than $10. I keep a daily watch for the latest deals at Blu-ray.com, which offers a constantly updated list of great buys at Amazon.com. Best Buy and Ultimate Electronics also have weekly deep-discount deals, so watch the ads. When I can get a copy of The Untouchables or Memento for $7, the sting of the upgrade doesn’t hurt so bad.

4. Sell high

You might not know it, but some of your DVDs could be collector’s items. You might have an out-of-print copy of a rare movie that fetches big bucks on eBay. So before you throw away any DVDs, be sure to do your research. Sometimes, as mentioned, DVDs contain content that the Blu-ray representation does not, so those DVDS can retain value. Of course, the vast majority of DVDs will bring only a few dollars on auction sites or at pawn shops and garage sales, but DVDs such as old Criterion discs can still rake it in. DVD Talk offers a helpful discussion of valuable, out-of-print DVDs. Find out more about valuable DVDs at Rare & OOP DVDs.

5. Give DVDs as gifts

Your friends and family probably aren’t on the AV cutting edge that you’re on, so they still covet DVDs and derive much enjoyment from them. Given the fact that your collection has no doubt been treated with kid gloves, your DVDs would make excellent gifts for the loved ones in your life. I recently gifted a Wizard of Oz DVD box set to my cousin, and she was overjoyed by the hours of enjoyment she had before her. Always remember that just because many of your DVDs may seem worthless to you, that is certainly not true of most other people. They’ll love your castoffs!

I’ve gained a new outlook on my DVD collection. At first, as Blu-ray emerged all shiny and glossy, I feared that my entire DVD collection would go instantly obsolete—and I’m sure that will probably happen someday—but now I’ve about-faced and found a new appreciation for all those older discs. I’d be interested to hear some of the ways you’ve coped with the transition from DVD to Blu-ray, and how you’ve managed your media accumulations!

Jason Bovberg is a senior editor for Windows IT Pro and SQL Server magazine and a regular contributor to Residential AV Presents Connected Home. He specializes in networking, mobile and wireless, hardware, and home computing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and editor in magazine, book, and special-interest publishing. He can be reached at jbovberg@windowsitpro.com.



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