I had much grander plans in delving into the specifics of Blu-Ray this week, but I ran into some stumbling blocks.Â Namely, it is not as clear cut as I had originally anticipated.
Yes, the war is over and and Blu-Ray has defeated HD DVD.Â But does that mean that it is time to rush out and get a Blu-Ray player?Â The best answer at this point is… maybe.
Prices have come down on Blu-Ray players a bit, but now that there is no longer any competition from Toshiba and HD DVD, I suspect prices will start dropping a bit slower as we move forward.Â Also, be warned of a Blu-Ray trap.Â Unlike HD DVD, Blu-Ray was fully “cooked” when it first came to market.Â There are several models of Blu-Ray players on the market that appear (relatively) cheaper than most models.Â Those are the version 1.0 machines.Â Version 1.1 is already out and version 2.0 is due very soon.Â (Version 2.0 players will have Ethernet connectivity, allowing future updates to be downloaded to the device, much like the PS3, but more on that in a moment).
Unlike when the “switchover” from VHS to DVD took place, where for a time the DVDs actually cost LESS to entice people to make the switch, at this point you will pay a premium for Blu-Ray discs.Â I am not saying they are not worth a premium (but DVDs were certainly worth a premium over the quality of VHS as well, and that had no bearing on price).
Now please bear in mind, the point of this is for those sitting on the fence, for those that are trying to find the best balance of value for the money.Â If you can afford to drop the cash on a Blu-Ray player, I am not saying you absolutely shouldn’t (well, with the exception of the 1.0 outdated players).
But at this point, I don’t yet see the real value, and wouldÂ tell most people to hold off for now.Â The only exception being, if you are looking to go the Blu-Ray format by picking up a PlayStation 3.Â Then it probably makes sense.Â You get the added benefit of having the gaming console, plus it is already Network ready, so you can get updates for it when the Blu-Ray 2.0 specification is completed without obsoleting your unit.
On a side note, if you say, have a Flat Screen TV and would really like to see some benefit, here is a neat little trick you can consider while waiting for Blu-Ray players to come down in price.Â Look for one of the now on sale and quite cheap HD DVD players that are on fire sale everywhere now.Â For somewhere around $79 or maybe even less by now, you can buy the HD DVD play which will “upconvert” your DVDsÂ (in simple terms, upconverting takes your 480i DVD and plays it at 720p or 1080i). Will it be the same as getting Blu-Ray?Â No, but you can use your existing DVDs and get a better experience, while waiting for Blu-Ray to come out with the 2.0 spec and the price of the players to drop (because you know sooner or later they will.)
At this point, my bet is that it will around Xmas time when the studios are going to want to see a profit and start leaning on the Sony and other hardware makers to start pushing down prices.Â I’ll even bet that this year on Black Friday, it will be the Blu-Ray player and not that cheap PC that lures people to wait on line all night to rush in for a bargain.
The time to make the move to Blu-Ray may be coming, but it isn’t here… yet (except for PS3).