A few months ago I met a woman at a party who worked for a major studio's DVD marketing department, and mentioned how I had felt no rush to upgrade to Blu-Ray. "Why not?" she asked. Which is the thing, really -- the studios think the question is "Why not?" when actually the question is "Why?" As in, why should anyone want to upgrade in the first place?
To even start to become interested, you need to own an HDTV of a certain size, and at the time, I didn't. That has since changed, and so I recently did upgrade to a Blu-Ray player. Even then, I would have been satisfied with an upconverting DVD player with HDMI output, except that it seemed silly to get something like that when it was possible I would get a Blu-Ray player eventually. I got the cheapest Blu-Ray player I could find that still seemed trustworthy. It doesn't support online features through BD Live, so I'm banking on the fact that when I want to go online to talk about movies, I will be satisfied to use my computer and not a cumbersome proprietary interface through my television. I hope I didn't make a mistake.
The Blu-Ray player does a fine job of upconverting DVDs and finally displaying content that I feel is worthy of our new TV screen. Last week we got our first Blu-Ray disc from Netflix and experienced our first true HD picture.
Watching Blu-Ray is kind of like getting new glasses. You're impressed at how clear everything is, how much detail you can see that you weren't even aware of before. Then again, you were never aware of it before, so was it really all that important? It seems to demand part of your attention to appreciate, so that part of your mind is always thinking, "Look how sharp everything is; I must remember to be grateful for this." All of this is beside the point in terms of actually becoming absorbed in a film's story, for which DVD resolution is perfectly sufficient. Still, it's nice.
The other thing is that Blu-Ray players are slow, almost comically slow. As in, it's actually funny that something could load this slowly and still be considered a viable consumer product ready for market. The thing must take almost a minute to boot up, way longer than we are accustomed to with DVD. Remote commands like fast-forwards, rewinds, and menu selections feel like they have a slightly delayed response. The high resolution playback of Blu-Ray is like a heavy train that takes an extra effort to start moving and to stop.
I like watching Blu-Ray from Netflix, but I'm not sure when I would start buying movies on Blu-Ray. One reason I buy DVDs is so I can show movies to my family, and Blu-Rays wouldn't play there, or on my computer, so right now it feels more limiting.