Thursday, February 28, 2008

Out with the Old, In with the Blu

This is now very old news, but I realized today I never made a post announcing or sharing my thoughts on the end of the format war. In case you live underground and haven't heard, Sony's Blu-ray has triumphed over HD-DVD as the next-generation entertainment/storage medium. I can't say I'm surprised. With a better storage capacity and a name with less than half the syllables of its adversary, Blu-ray has always been the better product in my mind. The final nail in HD-DVD's coffin was when Wal-Mart announced they'd only be carrying Blu-ray and DVDs henceforth. At that point, Toshiba threw in the towel and said they wouldn't be manufacturing any more HD-DVDs.

Do you think Blu-ray discs will be the last physical medium for the Blockbusters of the world to stand on, before Hollywood goes the way of the music industry? (That is, before it dies, slowly and painfully.) This year I've been renting movies a whole lot less than I did last year, despite living even closer to the video store. Although, the pitiful selection at Rogers Video doesn't exactly help. (In the last few weeks they've failed to have: Grosse Pointe Blank, Il Postino, America's Sweethearts, and Equilibrium, among others. Yeah. Shame shame shame!) Still, no matter where you go, nothing quite beats the savory flavor of freeness, something that March's issue of Wired says is going to be the new golden standard in the future of business. Indeed, more and more people are discovering the magic of Bittorrent, and sharing proliferates now more than it ever has. It's becoming difficult to keep track of everything.

Just a few days ago, for example, I discovered the amazing Stage6, which is YouTube-like in what it does and Torrent-like in what it delivers. The site offers full TV episodes of just about anything you want, but forget fiddling around with trackers and seeding, and all that other torrent nonsense. A whole episode of, say, Heroes, takes just a few minutes to buffer before it's ready for your viewing pleasure in full DVD-quality. Not bad for a video-hosting site! However, for reasons pertaining to its dubious legality, Stage6 is being shut down tomorrow, probably around midnight. So if you're like me and didn't know about it until now, you missed your chance! Still, we seem to be going through the same motions with movies today as we did with music back in the early 2000s. If you ask me, it's probably just a matter of time. Maybe one day we'll see a model in place where all films and TV are pay-what-you-want, a la Radiohead.

But, back to Blu-ray. One thing that's interesting about it is the fact that the PS3's power to groove with the format du jour is now more enticing. Also, if I remember correctly, they've scored a couple more exclusive and noteworthy titles since I last wrote about it. After all this time, I still want a friggin' Xbox 360. (And it might not be so far off - when I get a job this summer I should be able to meet this price as advertised on Newegg.) But perhaps now the PS3 will start getting some more, well, play. Back in the summer of '07, I got it straight from the horse's mouth that Sony intends for the PS3 to be a general entertainment unit, which seemed risky at the time since the format war was still in full-swing. Also, many gamers feel that software support is ultimately more important than the versatility of the medium. I cautiously count myself among those gamers, but I do see where Sony is coming from. I mean, let's face it: getting a two-for-one is sweet, because electronics are hella expensive. Especially when you're a student who will pay $500 for a course that teaches you how to transcribe English words into the phonetic alphabet, fork over another $100 for the textbook containing this worthwhile information, and then drop the course because, frankly, it kinda sucks. Ahem.

What's your take on the blu-ray takeover? Are you still mourning the passing of HD-DVD, (or thinking of buying a bunch of movies and a player for dirt cheap) or are you dancing on its grave, all decked out in your Sony memorabilia? How long will Blu-ray last, or will it have a lasting effect at all?

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At 6:20 PM, Anonymous paul said...

Despite not really liking Sony, I suppose Blu-Ray deserves to win, with respect to the fact that they worked with Philips to create the CD in the first place.

Anyhow, the snag is, last time I checked, Newegg doesn't ship to Canada. :/


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