Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Simply Blu-tiful

I inaugurated the new blu-ray player last night. I rented Iron Man. The wife kept suggesting all these chick flicks but why would I want to waste my inaugural playback on a chick flick? It's not that I won't watch chick flicks, I wanted ACTION!

I built myself up. I really wanted to be blown away by the picture quality. I wasn't. I also wasn't disappointed. The picture was crisp and clear, the colors were vivid, it was a wonderful experience. It was a beautiful thing!

When I first connected it on Monday night I also played back a couple of standard DVDs to make sure the audio setup was correct and those looked pretty good, too (the blu-ray upconverts standard dvd's). Given the price difference between standard DVDs and Blu-Ray discs (around $10 or more), I will be thinking hard whether or not I want a movie on blu-ray. That is, until standard DVDs go the way of the dodo - which may take a while. Movies like Iron Man with lots of action or those with epic scale like Lord of the Rings will get the blu-ray treatment... they deserve it. Movies that aren't visually special like Bruce Almighty or Wild Hogs don't really gain much on blu-ray so standard DVD is sufficient for me.

I had heard that one of the reasons adoption of blu-ray was not as rapid as hoped was that the difference in picture quality between standard DVD and blu-ray was not as distinct as that between VHS and DVD. Having now seen the difference on my own equipment (and especially seeing what upconversion can do), I agree. I sat watching Iron Man thinking "This looks really great. It's very much like seeing it in the theater." all the while knowing my wife was sitting next to me saying to herself, "I don't see what the big deal is." Of course, I see the differences between composite, s-video and component video connections and she doesn't. Side-by-side she might see it but she just looks at the movie. As long as the faces aren't indistinguishable blobs, she's happy. It took me the longest time to get her to stop buying VHS.

Verdict: I'm in love. For movies where picture quality makes a difference to me, I will be buying blu-ray from now on. For movies where picture quality is not so much a factor, I'll save my money and stick with standard DVD.

UPDATE: The next morning, the wife finished watching the end of the movie (she'd given up for sleep toward the end of the movie). I was retrieving the disc from the player when I switched the input back to the DVR... WOW!! Ginormous difference! The faces on the screen looked almost blurry. Now I'm impressed (but I'm still going to have to think before buying blu-ray - it's not THAT great.)

In addition, the M-I-L bought me the first two Pirates movies and the last Die Hard movie on blu-ray. Woohoo!

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