A while back I sung the Bluetooth blues, and complained that not enough was being done with the wireless technology. Well, now it is time to sing another tune or at least blog about it; and this is specifically aimed at the Blu-ray format.
The first verse should be directed at Sony and the other members of the Blu-ray Disc Association, including Matsushita (Panasonic to you and me), Pioneer, Philips, Thomson, LG, Hitachi, Sharp and Samsung. And this verse should ask why the group couldn’t find a way of making a deal with Toshiba, the principal behind the HD-DVD Forum. And this would lead to the chorus of “why oh why, do we have to have a format war?”
That format war, which ended this spring with the demise of HD-DVD resulted in a build up of two years of “wait and see” for many companies, and a full year and a half of confusion for consumers. In the end Blu-ray is left standing…on very shaky ground.
As an early adopter in my private life, and as a journalist who covers consumer electronics by profession, I found this format war to be completely unnecessary. But now that it is over I’m still not done singing about the Blu-ray Blues. In fact the song is only getting started.
This is because already I’m seeing many computer manufacturers pushing Blu-ray drives… and I have to ask why? I’m worried that the format could be a huge confusing mess. I’ve seen it happen once before.
As a videophile and movie buff I have to admit I love Blu-ray. I love that it delivers crystal clear pictures in a way DVD never did. And I’m saying this as an early adopter to the DVD format—I had the first player and first six movies the first weekend these were available in April of 1997. I loved DVD!
But DVD wasn’t high definition, and this has always been something of a minor annoyance to me. The consumer electronics companies knew HDTV was on the horizon, but they went ahead with a technology that was barely a step up from standard definition. Yes, DVD looks great when compared to VHS, but it is hardly an improvement over today’s digital cable, and it doesn’t compare to true HDTV. I could even let all that go…if DVD didn’t go down a very confusing path.
When the DVD format first arrived it was a read-only technology. That made it good for delivering data but it couldn’t be used to save information. Worse, the first DVD-ROM drives for the computer had compatibility issues with many CD-ROMs, including CD-RW discs. Then things went from bad to worse and in a short time we had DVD R, DVD-R along with DVD R/W, DVD-R/W and even DVD /-R/W. Some discs would work in some drives and some wouldn’t. You couldn’t use a –R/W disc to record in a R/W burner. Add in the DL (Dual Layer) and it remains truly confusing.
This is why CD-ROM, not DVD-ROM, remains the de facto standard for backing up information. The CD-ROMs don’t hold nearly as much information as a DVD, but considering the woes of trying to figure out the DVD alphabet soup mess, it’s no wonder that the technology never took off like gangbusters.