Friday, 22 February 2008

Blu ray, HD-DVD and Choice

Toshiba has finally given in, bringing the so called "format war" to a decisive end and as the media is shouting all around, establishing the blu ray disk as the sole inheritor hi-def entertainment market.

I first heard of these blu ray disks when my tech savvy roommate Gupta told me about it. My first reaction to most new technologies, especially those that do not mean a significant reduction in costs, is cynicism and after having expressed my opinion that it is just a passing fad, I sit down and fervently hope that it does not become popular. My reaction to the BRD was pretty much the same. The man who told me about it had correctly predicted that it will be the future.

I think the reason for the general disdain I have for new technologies has something to do with a deep rooted affection for status quo. On numerous occasions and regularly over several years i have tried to hypnotize myself into accepting and embracing change. It has worked in respect of several areas but hasn't been effective when it comes to expensive, inconsequential technology.

But the reason behind the specific tirade against the Blu ray disks and players is money. money, coupled with a fear of some of my favorite tech accessories being pushed into obsoleteness. The cheapest Blu ray disk available on the market is the Philips one which costs a neat 8000. Thats not much you would say. considering all the new features that the BRDs played on appropriate players like this one are offering. Well within the reach of a family though it would only be a dream for an average student wishing to upgrade his laptop. But the rip off only begins here.

Sony, one of the main players in the Blu Ray Disk Association and the major force pushing for it, is also the owner of some major movie production studios in hollywood like columbia, tristar and MGM. It also has under its gigantic corporate umbrella several smaller but significant movie production houses like Destination films etc, not to mention an important presence in the TV entertainment business and consequently, I would suppose, an interest in the sale of disk compilations of popular TV shows. Therefore one can expect it to start printing the home versions of all its new releases in BR format and only BR format in a bid to push the sales of BR players. Though Samsung and all have come out with combo players that play both BRDs and DVDs I am told that the costs of these are prohibitive, even for families. When this vicious circle of BR players and disks promoting the sales of each other becomes powerful, other companies which are releasing in DVD format will also be forced to shift over to these format making the BR player an absolute necessity. And then we will be forced to buy the BR disks of all new movies and these cost a lot as of now. If one shifts to a BR only player like the ones Sony is manufacturing now, they are truly doomed because unless they retain and operate their old player also, they will be forced to throw away all their DVDs and buy BR versions of their favorite classics.

There is a voice within me that tells me I shouldn't really be worried. We after all live in a world where manna from heaven comes as downloadable and is no longer reserved for those who are willing to pay for it. But the real reason I'm cribbing about the new king is that this might have the effect of stunting piracy. I might get arrested or at least abused for being sympathetic towards the theives, but it will actually mean that the days of 80 rupee disks with four movies in them will be gone until the wizards in the backrooms of national market (or Palika as choms would have it) figure out the way to crack the BRDs. This will affect me, but not that much since I watch most movies on disks borrowed from friends anyway (cheapo, but whats the point of staying in a hostel anyway).

The only way the Blu ray disks can redeem themselves in my eyes is if one of the new features promised is a video synopsis of the movie or show or whatever. You know, like a twenty minute version of a three hour movie. If it has that, then baara khoon maaf hai.

1 comment:

vikramhegde said...

Commenting on my own post. Che che. But I found this my prediction has come true.

You wuz here