Is Blu-Ray Dead Already? Not So Fast Yet
Ever since the Neil Young Archives were announced as being available only on Blu-Ray, controversy has swirled. Even ardent, long time, die-hard supporters have been dismayed by the Blu-Ray technology choice.
The latest round of Blu-Ray fear and loathing was prompted by articles with provocative titles like "Is Blu-ray the new Laserdisc?" and "Blu-ray is dead - heckuva job, Sony!" by ZD Net's Robin Harris:
"Blu-ray is in a death spiral. 12 months from now Blu-ray will be a videophile niche, not a mass market product.
With only a 4% share of US movie disc sales and HD download capability arriving, the Blu-ray disc Association (BDA) is still smoking dope. Even $150 Blu-ray players won’t save it."
Industry expert Bill Hunt at Digital Bits does the smackdown:
"But let's get real here. Blu-ray is NOT dead. It's not close to death. It's not even remotely sick or ailing. Saying otherwise is simply a clever ploy to get a LOT of people to read your columns. Look folks, Blu-ray is still essentially a NEW format to most people. This is the format's FIRST YEAR of unopposed exposure to consumers - the first year it hasn't been embroiled in a bitter format dispute with HD-DVD. The standard DVD format didn't begin to really take off until well over a year after its Divx pay-per-view nemesis finally died. It's worth noting that my prediction has ALWAYS been that Blu-ray and DVD would co-exist for many years, and that Blu-ray would gradually increase its market share over time. If I had to guess, I think the mix a few years from now is going to be 50% DVD, 30-40% Blu-ray and some smaller percentage of downloading. Blu-ray isn't going to replace DVD, the single most successful format in the history of consumer electronics, and anyone who thinks otherwise is out to lunch. But Blu-ray's future is plenty bright, folks."
But it seems that Blu-Ray news gets even worse when Wilco says Save your money, don't buy our Blu-ray!. Don't, says the band, buy a new Blu-ray edition of its 2002 documentary "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart." The band released a statement saying:
"We're unsure as to the rationale for the release, given that the film was shot in beautiful grainy B&W and has a stereo-only audio track... there is, in our opinion, not much to be gained by spending the extra cash. It's your money... and in this case you should probably hang onto it."
In response to Wilco's pushback on Blu-Ray, Plexifilm co-founder Gary Hustwit says, the quality of the film is significantly greater in Blu-ray.
"If you've got a film that was shot on super-16mm, like the Wilco film, a high-definition transfer on Blu-ray disc is going to look better than a standard-definition transfer compressed to DVD. Watching the Blu-ray disc is the closest you can get to actually sitting in a theater and watching the original film.... But we want to release our films in the best available format, and Blu-ray is just better than DVD, period."
When news was announced last month that Amazon was taking Pre-Orders for The Archives Volume 1, reaction was pretty swift on a number of fronts. First, not only was Amazon.com listing a Blu-Ray version but a regular DVD version as well.
This alternate DVD offering seemed to ameliorate some of those alienated by what had been believed to be a Blu-Ray only option.
Naturally, all this Blu-Ray stuff causes confusion as eddy ecco asked:
I was wonderin'----would any of you know--can you play a blu Ray disc on a regular DVD until one gets a Blu-Ray machine?
The short answer is no. Here's a more detailed answer:
"All Blu-ray players are backward compatible to play DVDs. The Sony PS3 is considered to be the best BD player and it also has an ethernet port for Internet connection. In addition, the Sony PS3 is continually having updates, which are downloadable from the Internet for free. Many other players don't have this ability and are stuck with whatever firmware ships with the player.
Connecting to the Internet with the Archives Blu-ray set enables the owner to download (for free) new content whenever Neil makes it available. This could be music and video downloads, more archival materials, tour info and special offers.
The regular DVD edition is interactive as much as the Fillmore or Massey Hall DVDS were.
The major differences between the BD and DVD archive editions are that the BD version has 24/192 audio, a HD picture (which means EVERYTHING looks better), the ability to navigate thru the archives while the music plays, Blu-ray style pop up menus and advanced navigation.
But there still remains considerable confusion over the Blu-Ray format and what fans (and everyone else) who is hard pressed in these financially challenging times should do when considering purchases ranging towards $1,000 for Volume 1, a player, and other system upgrades necessary to take advantage of the format. Doug comments here and here with some helpful advice on considering the Blu-Ray format.
So what are you thinking of doing when The Archives is released?
As for us here at Thrasher's Wheat? From everything that we've read, it would seem that the Sony PlayStation is the way to go because of the internet connectivity. We've been doing some Blu-ray research and found this Amazon page helpful in comparing various players' specifications.
But what ever we do, we'll probably wait until we actually see that the Archives has been released seeing as how we have gotten a little excited and hopeful over the years only to be a bit surprised when the release was delayed.
OTOH, just maybe The Archives will be released before Time Fades Away afterall???
But hey, when we see Neil next month, thinking about the Archives will probably be the last thing on our minds.
- Archives Q & A Session is Now Open
- The Archives: Burned with Both Feet on the Ground
- The Archives Turns Fans Blu