One step forward, two steps back?

While there are some people deeply engrossed in the specifics of the HD-DVD/Blu Ray battle for supremacy, it is fair to say that most people are still blissfully unaware of said battle. And many of those who are aware just don’t give monkey’s simply because HD DVD and Blu Ray really aren’t any better than DVDs in the first place.

When DVDs first came out, everyone was wowed with the better picture and sound quality, interactive menus, bonus features, and all you had to do was buy a new video player. Now, no-one’s getting excited because you not only have to choose between the two in a VHS/Betamax style, but whichever one you go for, both will give you the pleasure of having to buy a brand new TV in order to handle the even better picture quality that you really don’t need.

Not only this, but because of the superior data storage you only need to buy one highly priced disc at a time. Where a regular DVD would make you go to all the effort of having to actually go to the player, and change discs in order to watch the bonus features, everything now comes on one disc (meaning you are physically getting less for your bigger price tag), so you can now sit and watch everything without having to leave your seat. Toilet breaks are left to your own discretion.

But while most sensible people are ignoring this new pointless debate, they are also ignoring the old entirely relevant one at the same time. Is all this new fangled digital stuff any better than analog in the first place. What’s the point in bonus features and web links if the disc can be irreparably damaged by being left on the side. Personally I think chapter selections are a great idea, especially when you need to find the point at which you have to take the disc out and clean off the three specs of dust that made it stop in the first place.

When trying to watch M*A*S*H earlier, and after performing the stop-eject-wipe-chapter selection routine too many times, I realised the brand new disc was actually scratched just from having being loose in the box. If I was watching it on VHS, it would have fit perfectly in the box, and the vulnerable tape would have been perfectly protected by the rest of the cassette. I could also feasibly leave it lying around, not having to worry myself about splodges of jam.

And it’s not just the home video that has suffered either, as any Star Wars fan will be able to tell you that a puppet can create a better performance from an actor than a soon to be CGI’d over tennis ball on a stick. And what about TV transmissions? If it’s raining outside, how can the picture freezing for ten seconds in a variety of big squares be any better than it going a bit crackly? Even when it went black and white you could still tell what was going on.

So am I going buy a Blu Ray player, or an HD DVD player? I think I’m more likely to go on eBay and buy another VHS player before my current one packs up!

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