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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Do you have a blu-ray player?

Here’s a new daily feature, just a little something to jumpstart conversation. Today:

Have you already acquired a blu-ray player? If so, does it live up to the hype? If not, are you planning on getting one soon?

Me, I’m still perfectly happy with my upconverting DVD player, and I’m gonna try to hold out for the day — which is hopefully coming soon — when we won’t have to buy physical discs at all anymore, and will just stream and/or download stuff over the Net direct to our TVs.



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  • bitchen frizzy

    I do not have a Blu-Ray player. If I get one, it will be to replace one of my DVD players when it craps out.

    I do not intend to replace DVDs I already own with Blu-Rays.

    Blu-Ray discs are ridiculously expensive right now. For me to pay present prices for one (if I owned a Blu-Ray player), it would have to be a movie I loved enough to watch over and over again, and one in which video detail really mattered to the experience.

  • Rykker

    I recently purchased one, back when they went on sale right after Thanksgiving. I don’t own very many Blue-Ray discs, yet, but there’s a definite difference in audio and video quality.
    The cool thing about most of the BD brands, is that you can hook them up to your computer and stream content from the internet. Some brands even have Netflix capability — you can stream movies from Netflix. My Panasonic doesn’t have that capability (at least not yet; maybe with a future firmware update, I’m hoping), but other brands do (I think Sony is one of them).

  • James

    I’m thinking of getting a new HD monitor and one of those combined HD-DVD/Blu-Ray drives for my PC and buying up a load of HD-DVDs while they’re cheap.

  • Nope. I have not bought into the hype yet. But I am easily swayed.

  • JoshDM

    I at least need to get an upconverting DVD player. Digital downloads (DIVX! RISE FROM THE DEAD!) will replace Blu-Ray, and it’s already happening.

  • Andy

    I have a PS3. Even on a 720p TV, the visual quality difference between Blu-ray and upconverted DVD is notable. It’s not just the resolution that differs. The compression used for Blu-ray (and HD-DVD, but who’s counting) rarely if ever suffers from the artifacts seen on many DVDs (color splotching and the like). I’ll still buy some things on DVD (TV shows, notably cheap DVDs), but if the Blu-ray version is reasonably affordable, I get that. Especially new releases, where the prices between Blu-ray and DVD don’t often differ more than $5 or $10.

    I’m selfishly hoping that production costs for Blu-ray players and discs go down enough for enough people to adopt it before physical media die entirely.

  • Magess

    I don’t have one, but I’d like to. I’d probably get a PS3, just because I know Sony will keep that up to date. But I don’t have that much spare cash right now.

    My family has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to new media formats, but somehow this one just hasn’t been as enticing. I’m sure Blu-Ray is better. Just not THAT MUCH better that it was worth running out to get when we had other things to spend money on. Plus, it’d probably mean getting a new receiver so that everything could be hooked up right.

    The discs are still expensive, although Amazon seems to be doing its share to offer deals that will actually get people to buy them.

  • Alli

    I’ve wanted a PS3 for a while, but I’ve been waiting for a price cut. I also really love the God of War series, so I’m hoping when they release GoW3 this spring, they’ll package the two together and the price will be the same as it is now. Wishful thinking.

    The problem with the PS3, is that so few people have bought them that Sony may abandon it all together. That’s really what scares me about getting a PS3, and with my luck, within a couple months of getting one, Sony will can it.

  • Marshall Myers

    I do have a blue ray via the Ps3. I love movies, and I’m a bit of a video & audio phile – so I’ve slowly built up my ‘entertainment’ system. I’m planning on someday creating an actual theater room – but until then I think that Blu Ray rocks and there is a very noticable difference. So much so, that I may start converting some of my fav movies – like the Pirates trilogy. I hope that Lord of the Rings comes out on Blu Ray at somepoint.
    Wall-E looks simply amazing on the format!

  • Don’t have one, not looking to get one. Definitely have other economic priorities.

  • Anne-Kari

    I’ve heard anecdotal reviews from friends and done some research via assorted consumer magazines and everything points to PS3 as the best Blu-Ray player – and one of the cheapest options.

    I’m not planning on buying one any time soon, in part because it’s still a little too pricey for my budget right now, but mainly because if I get the damned PS3 my son will begin bugging the hell out of me to get games for it. We already have a Wii and a gamecube and I’m drawing the line at that.

  • JoshB

    My folks bought a blu ray player. I’m not impressed. It’s not that the image isn’t better, it’s that in the course of watching a movie I just stop paying attention to it.

    BTW, digital downloads are cool, I do alot of that on amazon, actually. But I want to point out that downloads probably will not be replacing physical media in the near future. Even HD, cool as it seems now, is not the end of the line. Standard DVD’s play at a resolution of 720×480(NTSC). HD is 1920×1080. High end computer monitors are 2560×1600. A 12 megapixel digital camera takes photos at 4000×3000. Every time digital downloading starts to catch up the physical players will raise the bar.

  • Patrick

    I do not have a Blu-Ray player, and I am at a loss as to what to do because I need to have an all-region capable player for all my DVDs from other parts of the world. Does anyone make an all-region Blu-Ray player? What I do have is a very nice up-converting all-region OPPO DVD player and a Plasma TV. I am impressed by my friend’s PS3- especially its hardrive, which can store many “specially” (less-than-legally) downloaded, hi-def, uncut versions of, for example, a certain BBC series that is edited down when broadcast in the states on the Sci-Fi channel. But, as others mentioned, I fear for the PS3’s future…

  • Ditto MaryAnn… just don’t see investing the money in an interim format. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I just don’t require my home entertainment be that high def. I seriously don’t care. Makes me feel kind of old, but there it is.

    Plus, we got a region free DVD player last year. I get the feeling that the Blu Ray format is attractive to manufacturers based on DRM/regioning bs and stuff. No, I don’t have any proof, but it’s kind of a gut thing. Will not pay hundreds of extra dollars to see a narrower selection of movies/tv in higher definition.

  • Leslie Carr

    My furniture just doesn’t have enough space to accommodate any more disks of any kind. I bought an Apple TV, but I haven’t yet started ripping my existing library of DVDs.

    Who knows -I might even watch them more often if they go on my iPod. Perhaps I could start a rota of shows to watch while walking the dog every day – Dr Who Season 1, Dr Who Season 2, Dr Who Season 3, Dr Who Season 4, Doctor Who Season 1 with the commentary tracks, Doctor Who Season 2 with the commentary tracks, Doctor Who Season 3 with the commentary tracks, Doctor Who Season 4 with the commentary tracks, Torchwood Season 1…

  • JasonJ

    It’s on my list of things to get, but I tend to only replace things, so as long as my current DVD player is working, it’s good enough. Heck, I still have a *gasp* Cathode Ray Tube television. I’ll get a flat panel when this tv dies or the prices come down more. Sucks because I just had to drop over $800 for a snowblower due to the massive amounts of snow I am getting. My back couldn’t take it any more. It’s snowed well over 5 feet so far where I live. It’s too bad, that’s money I could have spent on a spiffy TV….

  • Ditto MaryAnn… just don’t see investing the money in an interim format.

    Ditto. Not to mention the fact that I am not my DVD player. Plus every time I browse through the local electronics store, all the clerks have facial bruises and black eyes…

  • No, don’t have one. No, will never buy one. This is now the 21st-century. Time to move past outmoded formats like this. It’s just bits. No need to put them on a plastic intermediary first. Discs are dead. Most people just haven’t realized yet.

    OK, I’m not being fair. You have to have a fast connection in order to no longer need discs and not everyone does. But discs are truly a technology of the 20th-century and they are going to die.

  • eric-jon rössel waugh

    Hell no. I doubt I’ll ever buy one, either. On the cusp of the download revolution, a new and very slightly different format is a bit of a white elephant.

    There was a need and a practicality to DVDs; beyond the quality issues, they addressed problems of rewind and search and space and manufacturing price and storage. They transformed home video into a instantaneous hypertext format of special features, commentaries, and making-of documentaries.

    Blu-Ray is a little bit prettier, depending on your setup. Whoopie.

    With stuff like Netflix 360 available right now and far better services on the horizon, and with there being nothing particularly wrong with DVD that needs a revolution to address — except in the convenience of streaming download — any new hard format is exclusively the providence of videophiles.

    Blu-Ray is the Laserdisc of the twenty-first century. And that’s fine; there is a niche for that. What it is not is a practical solution to any important problem.

  • eric-jon rössel waugh

    To put it another way: Videotape changed the nature of discussion. DVD changed the nature of discussion. Streaming video is changing the nature of discussion. Blu-Ray injects superlatives into the discussion.

  • MaryAnn

    there being nothing particularly wrong with DVD that needs a revolution to address

    One factor in favor of getting rid of DVDs in favor of streaming/downloading is the enormous waste of resources that goes into manfacturing discs and jewel cases, and shipping them to stores or your house. It may not be much in the grand scheme of things, but every little bit of waste we can eliminate will add up.

  • No intention of using BD unless/until drives and burners for PCs become sensibly priced (and all the DRM is cracked – I will never buy a device that relies on DRM). Consumer electronics are a mug’s game now – I’ve built a Linux computer to drive my projector and hi-fi that does a better job than a DVD/CD/MP3 player for rather less money. I don’t suppose I will ever buy original content on BD, because by the time the drives become cheap the content providers will have gone on to something else.

    BD is in the same camp as SACD – the makers want you to think it’s a revolutionary change and that you should re-buy all your media, but it’s really just a small tweak to an existing format. eric-jon has the right of it.

  • superhotmel

    Call me old fashioned (and someone who likes to waste resources) but i like having a physical medium. I still buy CD’s. I like having the case and the booklet and a slightly more stable format than a hard-drive.

  • Magess

    The issue I have with digital is all the DRM crap associated with it. You, generally speaking, are not buying a thing. You’re buy a license to use the thing, while the company retains the rights. If they ever decide to revoke those rights, your digital download ceases to function.

    Amazon doesn’t do this with music, so that I don’t have a problem with. I can make copies of my digital files and keep them on a drive somewhere if I’m afraid of losing them. Is it the same with movies? Can I have a digital archive of DRM-free movies? As I understand it, Amazon only lets you download them and watch them on approved devices, not including Macs. That’s crap. And that’s why discs will still have a future. People don’t want the media they paid good money for becoming inaccessible, nor should they.

    It also doesn’t make sense to me to buy movies and store them on my Tivo or somesuch. That’s not a place to archive things.

    Now for renting… digital is brilliant. And it makes sense for Netflix to do, because they don’t have to deal with scratched discs. No one is expecting anything about the experience to last more than a few days.

    Owning? Meh.

  • Jason

    Well I own a PS3. What I like about it is the stuff in the background is so detailed. The Coppola Godfather Restoration is very swank, and The Dark Knight is equal to a theater experience minus the sticky floors.

    I own Blue Ray Discs, and I will own more. As nice as downloads are, having a storage medium makes all the difference in the world. Maybe when tetra byte storage is cheap the medium will become moot.

  • I bought an all-region BD player this year only because in watching the prices, they suddenly took a steep decline. The one I bought has net streaming capability and I’ve not hooed that up uet so it wasn’t really a factor…but the 32″ 1080p LCD TV set I had bought several years ago was getting lazy…so…

    I don’t intend to replace anything I already own on DVD (with the exception of Firefly and Serenity – a factor in my purchase as well) but I have to say that the difference is pretty amazing. Perhaps if the right extras were on the the disk, I’d consider upgrading the disk.

    I am still trying to figure out if it is possible to burn HD content onto a standard DVD. So far my experiments have yielded coasters. I don’t intend to buy a DVD burner any time soon.

    This was the stop-gap before the media-center PC (which I will build one day). Until that day however, this is a welcome addition to the home-theater.

  • Chris

    I own a blu-ray player and must say that, if your just watching old movies or even those prior to the digital age it’s about the equal of an upconverting DVD player. The difference is when you actually enter the blu-ray era of movies and put the big buget films to test. Iron Man, 300, Kill Bill, Master and Comander, Dark Knight, Kung Fu Panda, WALL-E, Transformers, Superman Returns and all of the Harry Potter movies really do look absolutley stunning. Also TV Shows such as Mad Men, Lost and Smallville look beautiful. If these are the types of films and series that you intend to purchase then the purchase of a blu-ray player is well worth it as these movies and shows look even better on blu-ray than they do in most theaters. For everyone else out there though that isnt a technical geek like me, you do best to make sure you get HD service of some kind and wait for the price of players to drop. Most likely in 5 years blu-ray will be the standard. I would say the internet like Mary Ann, but I just dont see the studios going that route until there is no choice left.

  • Left_Wing_Fox

    Yes, a PS3 hooked to an HDTV.

    I actually find that DVD upconversion on it works so well that I have no real desire to buy BluRay movies.

    The only exception to that is animation. Traditional animation (like Sleeping Beauty) has such thin lines bordered by flat colors that you actually can see the upconversion artifacts in the lines. So I’mplanning on getting all the Disney films on BluRay when theybecome available.

    There’s not nearly as much difference in a 3d cartoon, but just ’cause I’m a geek and an animator, I get Pixar films on BluRay too. ;)

  • JasonJ

    As far as digital files verses hard copy, I too prefer the thought of owning a hard copy. It is true about all the petroleum product used to create the plastic for the discs and cases and all that, but the thought of my computer crashing and losing all my movies really is unpleasant. At least if my dvd player breaks, I can get another one cheap. Going through the hassle of redownloading movies, doesn’t sound fun. I would guess this is a generational thing, the younger people are all into ipods and downloads, I can’t stand the sound of an mp3 file so any music I buy is on a CD. The only “high tech” thing I do is burn copies of cds so i can have a copy in my truck and my wife can have a copy. I know, more petroleum products….I tend to rewatch movies I like, so I buy the movies I like, and have watched all my movies many times.

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