SANDY BERGER: Now Might Be Good Time to Go Blu-Ray
When Blu-ray won the format war, manufacturers such as Sony expected consumers to flock to the new players and to be excited about purchasing new Blu-ray movies.
However, consumers looked at the Blu-ray movies and players in their local television stores and decided that they really didn't need to upgrade to Blu-ray. Part of that decision was based on the fact that when Blu-ray first came out, players cost more than $500 and discs were in the $30 to $40 range.
I am happy to say that because of the intelligent consumers who were unwilling to pay top price for Blu-ray, sales were poor. This caused prices drop quite rapidly. I recently saw prices of name-brand players from Sony, Panasonic and Samsung around the $150 mark.
Although the prices of Blu-ray discs haven't plummeted quite as much, there is now a selection of discs in the $10 to $15 range. While the prices of some newly released movies are still in the $30 range, those prices are also showing signs of dropping.
On a recent jaunt over to the Amazon Web site, I noticed that it listed the pre-release price of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" at $18.99, with free shipping and handling. This purchase also includes a digital copy of the movie and BD-Live. The digital copy allows you to transfer the file onto your computer or portable media player, which you cannot do with the copy-protected original disc.
The BD-Live lets you get additional content if you have a Web-enabled Blu-ray player. While getting the digital copy is a great feature, the BD-Live content doesn't seem to have really caught on yet.
So, you might be asking if it is a good time to buy a Blu-ray player and if it is really worth it. Well, I moved into the Blu-ray owner's camp a few months ago, and I must say that I am really pleased with my Blu-ray player.
My husband loves movies, and he has a large collection of regular DVDs. So we made sure that we purchased a Blu-ray player that is good at up-converting. We did this by reading reviews and also by matching the manufacturer of the player with our television. We have a Samsung Hi-Def TV, so we purchased a Samsung Blu-ray player.
The bottom line is that the Blu-ray player up-converts the regular DVDs and makes them look better than they did with a regular DVD player. The difference that you see depends on your television as well as on how well your Blu-ray player performs at up-converting the video.
In our case, there is such a noticeable difference that we are finding ourselves watching old regular DVD movies that we might not have otherwise watched again.
Of course, the best video is accomplished by playing a Blu-ray disc on the Blu-ray player. There is actually a dramatic difference from regular DVDs played on regular DVD players. You can see details like drops of water and petals on flowers that you never would have seen on a DVD.
In fact, if you have a 1080p television, the only way you can actually see a movie in 1080p is to watch a Blu-ray movie. There are not yet any television transmissions in 1080p, and it looks like it will be quite awhile before there are any.
If you, like my husband, love movies, a Blu-ray player may be for you. While the prices of the players may continue to fall, I predict that they will stay in their current price range for a while, and, at the same time, the costs of Blu-ray discs will continue to fall.
Yet, even if the discs don't get too much cheaper, you can enjoy all of your old DVDs a little more with a Blu-ray player, and you will be able to start on your Blu-ray disc collection with at least a few of the cheaper titles.
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your comments and questions on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compu kiss.com/happycomputing.
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