Dvorak on Blu-Ray Bashing


Dvorak, one of the most famous and popular technology columnists, has written a column on the excessive bashing of Blu-Ray technology.

I have always shared this viewpoint, and I suspect most readers of this site feel the same way, so it’s nice to see this point of view acknowledged in such a mainstream fashion. It’s one thing for people to be disinterested in a technology, it’s another to see such a concerted attack on a technology. One common refrain that is particularly crazy, quoted from another PC Magazine columnist, is this:

[Consumers are] not hopping on the Blu-ray bandwagon, however, because they don’t see the benefit. [snip] the average consumer can’t perceive the difference.

Really? People can’t tell the difference between regular DVD and Blu-Ray? That’s flat out nonsense. Sure, many people don’t care about movie resolution and have much more important things in their life to worry about. And the whole hi-fidelity, high-tech stuff can put many consumers off, but the quality difference is real. Even regular “average consumers” can see the quality improvement on any halfway decent HDTV set.

So why the excessive bashing? Dvorak says it’s three categories of bashers: the Sony haters, the technology futurists, and the Xbox aficionados. That sounds about right.


Written by: Darrin - Contributing Editor


  1. #1 by Segitz on May 27th, 2008 [ 1470 Points ]

    I’d add one group…

    the ones, that don’t want to pay an extreme premium over the regular DVD. And to some degree, I even would consider myself one.

    Blu Rays in Germany STILL cost you 30€ (sometimes more), even the really cheaply made ones. And that’s simply to much to ask, for a movie. Hence, I import regularly… Rambo 1-4 should arrive any day now (was send last week already, breaking shelf date^^)

  2. #2 by kaszeta on May 27th, 2008

    I can see this. I’ve got several BD’s I’ve watched that really don’t give much improvement over upscaled DVD’s on the same television. Good exaples include The Usual Suspects, The Fugitive, Bullitt, and Nacho Libre. A lot more cost for almost no improvement in picture quality.

    So, for every BD I’ve seen that’s phemenonal (Cars, Planet Earth, …), there are a few that aren’t good.

  3. #3 by Darrin on May 27th, 2008 [ 17143 Points ]

    The price of discs is a legit gripe. However, the real budget shoppers tend to quietly stick to DVDs and not write op-ed pieces about it. The real vocal opponents to Blu-Ray are behind other competing technology.

  4. #4 by west coast ps3 on May 27th, 2008

    Here in BC Blurays have dropped to 26$ for new releases (Costco), 20$ for new releases of old movies (Costco) and sometimes as low as 15$ for new releases of old movies (Walmart). That is pretty affordable, and my collection has grown because of it.

  5. #5 by Paranoimia on May 27th, 2008

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… and again… and again…

    THE WORLD IS NOT READY FOR DOWNLOADING HI-DEF MOVIES!

    Firstly, the files are too big; quite apart from the amount of time it would take, the internet in its current form simply could not handle the bandwidth required. If everyone who went out and bought Transformers on HD-DVD had actually downloaded it via legal means, the net would have ground to a halt.

    Quite apart from that, it is not viable until movie companies relax their DRM, allowing back-ups and so on. I for one would not pay for a movie knowing that a faulty HDD, power spike or whatever could corrupt the data and mean that I may have to pay for it again in the future. I want physical media – maybe it’s “old fashioned”, but at least I know that I can take good care of it, and short of natural disaster, nothing beyond my control is going to damage it.

  6. #6 by mcloki on May 27th, 2008

    Blu ray is hampered by lack of content. Not every film is out on Blu Ray. I can’t go to Blockbuster and rent the movie I want on Blu ray, yet. Studios need to really start pumping out back catalogue movies. Also I do buy into the DVD upscaling “good enough” theory.
    I’ve got all the Lord of the rings movies, Do I really want to spend another hundred to REBUY them for the sake of HD. Tough call.
    I do like my ps3 Blueray but I have made a conscious decision to only buy newer movies that i deem worthy, and in these days of penny pinching Downloading seems like a really good option.

  7. #7 by Trieloth on May 27th, 2008

    LOL, my sister and my Mom know and see the difference. The only thing they dont like is the price, but they remembered DVD being more expensive when it first came out. ROFL

  8. #8 by Paranoimia on May 27th, 2008

    @ mcloki – I don’t think re-buying movies you already have is necessary. Maybe for the hard-core movie buffs, but not the average user. Since a Blu-ray player will play your existing DVDs, it’s not necessary.

    The PS3 and any other decent Blu-ray player will do an excellent job of upscaling your DVDs anyway. In fact, even my standard DVD player (Sony RDR-HXD870) does an awesome job of upscaling. I won’t be re-buying any of my movie collection, but I will be buying all my movies on Blu-ray in the future.

    There is one very good reason to buy a Blu-ray player, though: within a few years, movies will only be released on Blu-ray. It won’t be long before studios start releasing major films only on Blu-ray, to force people to upgrade.

  9. #9 by Meresin on May 27th, 2008

    People have very short memories, apparently. DVD wasn’t adopted by the world overnight. Cost kept a lot of people from buying into the new standard initially, as is the case with Blu-ray. However, as costs went down, the higher audio and video quality of DVD finally convinced the vast majority of people to make the leap. We can expect to see the same thing happen here, regardless of the yammering coming from a few idiotic, fear-mongering journalists.

    Digital downloads really won’t be a competitive solution for some time to come, either. The average internet connection in the US isn’t fast enough to download a 20+GB HD movie in any reasonable timeframe, and given that downloaded SD video quality isn’t on par with DVD, much less Blu-ray, I really don’t see it replacing either form of optical media any time soon. Further down the road, when everyone has fiber to the home or access to some supercharged over-the-air network, it might be viable, but that just hasn’t happened yet.

  10. #10 by Meresin on May 27th, 2008

    @Paranoimia:

    I own a 61″ DLP HDTV. Repurchasing all my movies on Blu-ray is a necessity. ;)

  11. #11 by pyrolock on May 27th, 2008

    BLUE RAY, the best thing is not only quality, but how well they stand up to punishment of every day life, such as scratches, finger prints, and so on. now when i lend out a movie or a ps3 game, i don’t worry about if it’s going to work when i get it back, unless they took a stake knife to it. don’t believe me, look it up on youtube, blue ray scratch test or something like that. it sold me peace

  12. #12 by Disappointed on May 28th, 2008

    The PC Magazine columnist has it right. Of course BD resolution is better, but it isn’t that much better than an upscaling DVD player. Certainly it isn’t worth paying five to ten (!) times the price for a slight improvement in picture quality.

    There are other factors, too, like region coding. Regionfree DVD players are cheap and commonplace. With BD you have to specifically check beforehand if the disc will play on your player.

  13. #13 by Whooka on May 28th, 2008

    I’ve seen several articles proclaiming how people aren’t jumping on the blu-ray bandwagon. The first thing that comes to mind is Blu-ray ‘won’ the format war only very recently. I don’t know about other countries but here in the States we are in the midst of an ongoing economic recession (as much as current gov’t officials dance around that ‘R’ word). I suspect many people being broke and now paying 2x as much as they did last year for gas to get them to their jobs that are most likely no longer in the smaller towns where they live thanks to offshoring of manufacturing jobs and places like Walmart, is requiring many people to forego alot of recreational purposes like blu-ray players and blu-ray format movies. Sure they will pony up for video games and consoles but that’s because movies, unlike games, will eventually be ‘free’ on tv or available on pay per view and the like, so in times of cutting economic corners people will wait the additional two weeks and just watch a movie on cable/pay per view. The current economic climate in the States is no time to judge how anything is selling right now.

    Also, as far as Microsoft and other companies trying to excuse their short-sighted decision of embracing HD-DVD by claiming ‘oh, who cares, everyone is just going to download HD movies in the very near future anyways’, all I can say is maybe in Europe and other countries but no time soon here in the States with the slowest Internet backbone in the free world and ISPs already engaged in traffic shaping and other bandwidth curtailing activitites. No one is gonna want to wait the amount of time it’ll take to download HD content, which it will have to be as streaming this sort of thing is almost impossible to achieve with a solid framerate over North America’s antiquated infrastructure.

    As far as people who don’t see a difference between DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-ray, I suggest you get a new, proper, LCD TV or the like. Blu-ray clearly (no pun intended) is the closest thing to cinematic 35mm as you’re gonna get right now, at least in the films I’ve seen. It easily crushes the competition and has so for over a year now. get some new glasses!

  14. #14 by Paranoimia on May 28th, 2008

    @ Meresin – then you’d be one of the hard-core movie buffs I was referring to! :-)

  15. #15 by Trigga_Tybalt on May 28th, 2008 [ 26623 Points ]

    i must admit i haven’t got any blu rays yet. i own a HD TV too so its not down to that. its just i haven’t been able to justify the price tag of them over DVDs. i remember i only started buying DVDs when they had the good multi buy deals out and i think shops are starting to do them now so my opinion might change soon.


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