Well the High-Definition Media Format War is over. (For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about,
re [were] 2 competing High-Definition disc formats: HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Both formats have the capability
to deliver a high-definition image with resolutions up to 1080p. There are pro's and con's to each format, and I'm not
going to explore them here since there are many places on the web that discuss the differences ad nauseum. It's a moot
point, now that Blu-ray Disc has emerged the victor.
Back in August 2007
, I backed the wrong format, HD DVD. Although, as discussed in my blog at that time
, I chose the absolute least risky (read cheapest
) way to become an early adopter. My current HD DVD player
isn't useless at this point, mind you. I can still play my current HD DVD's on the player. I can just expect to
see the availability of future
HD DVD's to disappear.
The war ended in light of HD DVD's concession as a result of dwindling studio support. No matter which format
you supported, it is good that the war's over because the consumer can now purchase a Blu-ray Disc player and start enjoying
true High-Definition playback of their favorite movies without fear of immediate obsolescence...sort of.
The biggest complaint I had against Blu-ray was that in it's zeal to release it's media, it released an incomplete profile.
To put it in simple terms, early Blu-ray discs were completely playable on early Blu-ray players, but Blu-ray began adding
"features" to later discs. These newer features were not compatable with early players. Therefore if the consumer
wanted to utilize these features, he or she would have to upgrade their player. Although the purpose was to take advantage
of the abilities of the enormous storage space on the discs and thus give the consumer a more robust entertainment experience,
it is ultimately unfair to the consumer to make them upgrade their players for these features. HD DVD, on the other
hand, released a complete, final profile ensuring that all HD DVD's would be playable on all HD DVD players despite manufacture
Now, consumers are faced with the daunting task of finding the right Blu-ray player for their needs. Some relatively
expensive players are capable of being upgraded (either by broadband internet connection or manual user file download and
install) to the current Blu-ray profile
(currently Profile 2.0). The most cost effective and full-function player is Sony's PlayStation 3. Yes, it's a
gaming console, but many people like myself are purchasing this player solely for it's Blu-ray disc playback capabilities.
The beauty of this strategy is that with a broadband connection, the player is automatically updated. In fact, this
"gaming console" was the first player to implement the latest Blu-ray Disc profile.
Now that you know why the PlayStation 3 is one of the better choices for a Blu-ray Disc player, here's my overall impression
of the console...
As compared to my other components in my home theater, it's relatively small, but it's heavy and well-built. The
aesthetic design is sleek and simple. It's super quiet even after running for hours.
I love the slot drive. Slot drives are what you have in your car stereo---there's no disc tray to eject, you
just begin sliding the disc into the slot, and a motor gently pulls it into the player. Some technophiles shy away from
this method for fear of scratching the media. I, personally can't see that it's causing any harm to the disc.
Additionally, Blu-ray Discs have a special hard coating on the disc to resist scratching and smudges. In effect, they
seem more durable than traditional CD's.
Now for the load time (the amount of time from the point at which you put the disc in the player to when you can actually
interact with the disc). A complaint about many Blu-ray Disc players, and for that matter, HD DVD players, is that
their load times are often quite lengthy. Some players take upwards of 2 minutes before playing. With the PlayStation
3 in the off state, I can insert a disc, and the movie is playing in less than a minute.
The PlayStation 3's software is nothing less than elegant. It's just absolutely beautiful. And menu navigation
is blazing fast.
Anyone in the market for a Blu-ray Disc player should seriously consider the PlayStation 3. You don't have to be
interested in gaming to have this component in your home theater. I'm a casual gamer at
best, so I will probably never fully explore the gaming aspects of this console. This seems to be Sony's intent, too.
By making this console a gaming console/home theater component hybrid, they've effectively covered a consumer base that doesn't
always overlap (gamers and home theater enthusiasts). Given the versatility and seamless upgradeability of the PlayStation
3, I expect an increase in sales since the victor of the format war has been declared.