By Patrick Biz
Contributing Writer, [GAS]
With HD DVD now buried six feet under and all major Hollywood studios onboard in the Blu-ray camp, the stars are aligned for next-generation format sales to finally take off. Surprisingly, prices aren’t falling, and customers still aren’t buying.
The War Has Just Begun
Don’t laugh, Blu-ray vs. DVD is really THE new format war. When comparing specs from Blu-ray and DVD players, on paper, Blu-ray has a clear advantage. But on the field, it’s a different story. Truth is, there are many reasons why consumers are happy with the traditional DVD format:
- They barely see the audio/video improvement
- They already own a DVD player
- DVD Players are much cheaper to buy
- DVDs are 30% to 40% cheaper than Blu-ray disks
- Video stores have considerably more DVDs for rental
- While this one may seem odd, the fact that DVDs are easier to copy also plays in favor of the old poorly protected format
Upconverting DVD Players: Simply Too Good?
If you want to take your DVD collection to the next level on your sexy high-definition television, get yourself an upscalling DVD player, also known as an up-converter, such as the Sony DVP-NS700H/B, the OPPO DV-980H or the Panasonic DVD-S54K. Equipped with an HDMI cable, these players upscale the 480p signal to 1080i/1080p by using complex maths to improve color ratios, contrasts and the overall picture quality. Of course, with a native signal of 480p, they cannot beat the native resolution of a Blu-ray disk that’s 1080p. But the wow effect is not significant enough to make people drop 400 bucks (and up) on a Blu-ray player.
Not Enough Bang For The Buck
This is where DVDs overtake Blu-ray by a mile. Looking at the concept of bang for the buck from a mathematical and graphical perspective, we understand that when prices go up, devices usually provide more features. At a certain price though, quality cannot sustain value as cost increases substantially, while the product itself has less and less to offer. DVDs and up-converting DVD players are comfortably sitting in the bang for the buck area of the graph, while Blu-ray has not yet fallen from the overpriced zone.
While many of you may be tempted to wait for the holiday season before taking the next-generation format highway, experts are expecting no significant decrease in price in the upcoming months. Surprisingly, Blu-ray prices have gone up since the death of HD-DVD. Also, the rising price of oil increases transportation costs, and directly impacts the production of plastic.
The format war is far from being over, and the economical situation resulting may restrain the Blu-ray group from making it to your living room. All things considered, DVD may end up being a stronger contender than HD DVD ever was.
Edit: Nearly 6 months have past since we wrote this article, and the situation has changed quite a lot since then. With Christmas time coming, it is now possible to get a very good blu-ray player for around $200, namely the Samsung BD-1500. Amazon.com is the cheapest place to get it right now.