Blue about Blu-ray

By bluemist on September 22nd, 2009

soneee
Around this time last year, after months of self-bickering on how to drive my PC upgrades forward, I decided to buy a blu-ray writer disc drive. This was a big leap that emptied my wallet for quite a while. It was priced around 250$ then. Nowadays you can get similar drives for almost half the price, and I might say that it’s a rather good deal. Unfortunately, the format in itself still seems to be so unpopular. And even I myself deem it unpopular in my own usage, as I own only a handful of blu-ray movies because of certain unattainable price points. Yet with these conflicts, I still wanted to defend the format as a way to move technology forward, or at least to make me less sad about something that still has a chance to become a “useless purchase” for me.

What are we at right now anyway? We’re just rising from recession just now, so I think more and more people are going to buy TV sets. LCD and Plasma sales are on the rise. We recently bought a modest LCD TV ourselves, and now I realize why regular consumers aren’t buying blu-ray. The basic answer is that DVD quality is enough for them, sure. Another reason which is sometimes unmentioned is how people will watch quite a distance away from the TV. Coupled with the fact that consumers will want a cheap set, so I think an extreme majority own the small 32″ screens. At those distance and sizes, even I don’t see the pixels. DVD is really enough after all. Screw me who always watches video on the computer only a couple feet away from my LCD monitor. A TV isn’t meant to be viewed this close. And so for our set, I conviced my parents to move the TV around for it to become closer to the sofa to better appreciate the visual quality.

The first blu-ray movie I bought would be the BBC Planet Earth documentaries. I would highly recommend this series as a prime gateway to the beauty of blu-ray. After that though, I really hadn’t bought much else. Just a couple samplers and some blockbuster movies (Iron Man for instance). I have a grand total of 10 titles… for an entire year of having the format. My main enemy would be both price and region inferiority. I think by now in the US blu-ray movie prices have dropped near DVD levels, which is quite nice. Unfortunately I’m NOT in the US, so I have to make do with those prices + 12% tax + markup. A 20$ movie there will become 36$ here, which is freaking ridiculous. Prices in Japan are as horrible as ever too, some in the 80$ range even. I can import some because I know people in Japan but still I can’t just blast my money just for some odd anime or two.

I think anime is the best showcase for blu-ray because you will noticeably see the difference. Lines are thinner in character designs and the colors become richer because you see more detail in the backgrounds. Japan knows this as most of their top-selling blu-ray movies are anime. Unfortunately, blu-ray anime in the US is almost endangered. With all the problems they have in selling anime DVDs, I don’t think some localization studios will even move to the format. Such a shame, because part of me holding up to buying anime DVDs all-in-all would be because there is a slight chance that they would move to blu-ray someday.

Another problem in the horizon for blu-ray will be digital distribution. While today there doesn’t seem to be any threat because of the competing formats and small libraries, we go back to the quality case. If DVD is enough, won’t HD be enough even at low bitrates? Right now people enjoy their youtube at supposed HD format, which is no more than a 720p video with a low bitrate which degrades quality. Still, enough to whet their appetites. The second one would be piracy but I don’t think this is as strong today. It’s such hassle to download and move around a 4 or 8GB file, even if you say broadband is fast and hard drives are cheap. Also, to enjoy those on your big TV you still need an HTPC or media streamer of sorts, so the piracy audience are more of the techie types rather than the bulk of consumers who just want to plug-and-play.

The only savior of the format that I can think of is the Playstation 3. While still the sore loser in terms of video game sales, that box freaking does everything, including blu-ray. If it were not for this console, blu-ray may as well be dead two years ago. With the recent introduction of the PS3 Slim with its competitive price, I even think this is a second coming for the format. I don’t have a use for a PS3 since I have my computer for high-quality gaming, but it really fits the bill for an all around entertainment device.

This holiday season will be a crucial one for the format. Personally as well, because I will go stock up on blank blu-ray discs for recording and backups. I just hope that locally the price comes down for the movies so that I can buy more. It’s a really interesting battle in the video space nowadays, and I hope blu-ray gets a piece of that pie. At least, to justify my purchase of this blu-ray drive. Heh.

17 Comments

Posted By: piyo On: September 23, 2009 At: 12:49 am

> This holiday season will be a crucial one

Why is it crucial now? I don’t think it is. The format has been out since mid-2006. There is no deadline now that it is the only HD format. BD can just stay at the same level it is right now. Also, the PS3 is not going anywhere, it is the “10 year console” and a “reference” BD player to boot. Besides, I think you should wait and see. Have you seen anything on BD that vital to purchase recently? Finally, have you seen the exchange rate lately for JPY? It doesn’t look good.

BTW, I saw you posted about MDK on yer Twitter. I suggest you check out GoG first, because it is DRM-free and cheaper sometimes.

http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/mdk/

Posted By: bluemist On: September 23, 2009 At: 1:01 am

I see only a few titles of interest in the anime side because US doesn’t produce too much anime on BD, which is really a bummer. As for regular movies, sometimes I hesitate to buy because most of the time I want special editions with extras, and those render even higher prices.

I don’t have GoG account yet, but I’m quite interested in their old game library. Steam has an MDK1+2 pack though so maybe I’ll go ahead with that.

Posted By: Wavehawk On: September 29, 2009 At: 3:19 pm

Blu-Ray really doesn’t help anyone who doesn’t own a PS3 or an HDTV, or both. Then again, early DVDs didn’t really have much on them either. So far, the only things that Blu-Ray can offer (that I see) are high-def video and larger storage space. The latter is obvious for games, but not sure for everyone else. As mentioned, the PS3 is the only thing that gives it a foothold.

What I’d like to see is someone doing -something- really creative with the Blu-Ray format, say stuff the entire series of Zeta Gundam (TV series) onto one disc at high quality. Or present a “Collector’s set” of PS2 games remastered for the PS3 on the one disc.

Until then, if you want to blame anyone about the current state of video formats, remember: “It’s all Decade’s fault!”

Posted By: www.janime.tv On: October 01, 2009 At: 1:17 am

new games for pc will be released on blu ray

Posted By: DaFool On: October 02, 2009 At: 3:10 am

I have a collection of 15 PS3 games but no blu-ray movies. The only blu-ray movie discs I’d buy would be of Makoto Shinkai’s works… but only if they were released with English subs at a reasonable price. Actually those are the only anime that I think I’d notice the finesse on blu-ray… even KyoAni works I’d be fine just on DVD.

Sadly , if ever, I’d have to import those things at ridiculous prices.

You know you can buy plenty of cheap PS3 games now for less than the cost of a blu-ray movie. If a blu-ray movie were to be 1550 pesos, for example, a lot of greatest hits PS3 games can be had for 1295 or 1250 even. I even bought a game for 999 pesos new. Hell, even with those prices some of those PS3 games are even newer than the movies on blu-ray!

So I’m a PS3 blu-ray game collector. Since the PS3 is region-free with regards to games, I started buying from Play-Asia. I got JP version of Atelier Rorona, for example, and it plays great! (even though I don’t understand the dialogue, it’s just too moe to pass up).

It’s true, the PS3, region-free PS3 games, the diamond-resistant scratch-free disc technology, the low prices (compared to local Blu-ray movies and imported DVDs) and the beautiful crack-free packaging all make PS3 BD-ROM collection worth it.

Actually, I think the reason you have this dilemna is because you went through the whole format the wrong way, in my opinion. The only time you will need BD+-R’s is if you were going to make an entire hard drive backup onto one disc, and usually most of the stuff on the harddrive are crap and not worth backing up anyway.

While the DS and sometimes Xbox 360 may be a better choice in terms of playing the most “in” Japanese games, there’s still no denying that having a PS3 gives access to a few elite Japanese games, as compared to a PC which usually only brings eroge for the Japanese game experience, but not JRPGs. Well, I wanted to play Star Ocean 4 eventually, so I’ve made the right choice.

I’m a blu-ray gamer and collector, praise the format it really is the best format for gamers around the world. Also, with HD there is no more PAL/NTSC nonsense, and no need for modchips. You can enjoy the physical medium at its peak form legitimately. It’s just too bad that it came at a time when digital distribution is taking over.

Posted By: bluemist On: October 02, 2009 At: 10:02 am

@DaFool
Actually I was an early DVD Writer adopter as well. I bought one when it was still 300$ (those were non-recession times so…). Back then, hard drives were still relatively small (40-80GB norm) and not as cheap, so I can easily backup everything on DVDs with minimal cost.

Nowadays though with terabytes in hard drives for so cheap, blu-ray is actually lagging space-wise. Couple that with ridiculous blank disc prices and so maybe I did it all wrong indeed.

Posted By: Piroca de Fantasma é Geladinha On: January 26, 2010 At: 7:03 pm

Give it more time. Sales are increasing… A little more than 10 years ago, when I bought my first DVD player, most people had never heard of DVD and only knew VHS. Now, VHS is dead!. After a few more years, DVD will be as dead as VHS is now.

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