Nine reasons not to buy a Blu-ray player this weekend £299.99
22nd Aug 2008 | 11:46
Alternatives that will make you think twice
You'd be forgiven for thinking that if you don't bag yourself a Blu-ray player immediately, you don't deserve a place in civilised society. But before you succumb to the marketing pressure, we reckon there are a few alternatives you might want to consider.
1. DVD upscaling is great
After a fairly uninspiring start, at least at the budget end, DVD upscaling is finally finding its feet. If you have no idea what we're babbling about, upscaling is simply the ability to turn ordinary 576-line DVDs into 720- or 1080-line 'high definition' pictures better suited to today's flat TVs.
When done well, upscaling really can make a difference to your DVD picture quality. Sure, the results aren't up to a good 'true' HD picture, but it's a great way to bide your time until Blu-ray hits its stride.
2. You won't need to buy your favourite movies all over again
If you've amassed a sizeable DVD collection, the idea of replacing them with new Blu-ray versions is almost unbearable. Especially if it seems like yesterday that you were replacing your old videotapes...
3. Downloading is exploding
Chris Lewis, Vice President of Microsoft Interactive Entertainment for Europe, recently said: "Before very long we will look back wistfully at shiny discs as something that was somewhat a historic phenomenon in a way that we kind of think about vinyl or VCRs today."
The reason he said this is because of his company's confidence that sooner rather than later we'll be downloading films and telly shows from the internet. And with the speed of internet connections growing ever faster and hard drives getting ever bigger, he might just be right.
4. Satellite HD is on the up
Sky Digital currently offers an HD broadcasting service offering more than 20 HD channels taking in documentaries, live theatre performances, quality dramas and comedies, and movies galore.
There's arguably enough HD content from Sky now to spend the majority of your TV time enjoying HD rather than scowling at standard definition. And there are more HD channels on the way.
Sky is no longer the only HD broadcasting 'fruit', either. Freesat can now be enjoyed without any subscriptions, and this currently carries two HD channels: BBC HD and ITV HD.
5. You'll save money to spend on other things
In these hard times, money matters. So the cheapest decent Blu-ray player will cost around £160 while the cheapest decent upscaling DVD players can be as little as £30. Blu-ray discs also cost way more than DVDs – anywhere between £18-25 versus prices that top out at £15 and go as low as £5.
Let's not forget, either, that you can 'order' Sky Box Office HD movies for as little as £2 for a week's 'ownership', sign up for Sky HD for just £10 a month, or download HD movies from Xbox Live for under £4. All of which look cheap compared with shelling out £20 a time for a single Blu-ray film.
6. Rumours of HD DVD's death have been greatly exaggerated
OK, yes, it's true that no new HD DVD titles are being pressed. But you can still pick up HD DVD films for as little as £3.99 and not straight to video, Z-list rubbish either. A quick glance at play.com finds the likes of Atonement, Batman Begins, American Gangster, Blade Runner and the Harry Potter movies, so you can bag hours of quality HD movies on a disc for less than you'd spend on a portion of fish and chips.
As for the HD DVD players you need to play the HD DVD discs on? There are tons on eBay for usually well under £100.
7. Blu-ray is barely 'finished', and as confusing as hell
The Blu-ray camp harps on about how great 'BD-Live' internet functionality is. But this 'brand new' feature merely brings Blu-ray to a similar functionality offered by poor old HD DVD when it launched!
Similarly, Blu-ray players have only recently started to offer picture in picture features such as director's commentaries – even though these, again, were possible with HD DVD from the off.
As a result of this 'catching up', many older Blu-ray players won't handle these new features; different players within some manufacturers' ranges will handle some of the new features while others won't; and punters have to get their heads around terms like BD-Live, BonusView, Profile 1.0, Profile 1.1 and Profile 2.0 before they can understand what each Blu-ray player can do. Madness.
8. Life's too short for extra features
Download an HD film or watch an HD broadcast, stress Blu-ray fans, and all you get is the movie. You don't get extra features like director's commentaries, featurettes, and 'amazing' interactive games.
Are they for real? Does anyone really have enough spare time to plonk themselves on a sofa for, say, four hours while they listen to two separate commentary tracks about The Day After Tomorrow? Or play a game that makes Horace Goes Skiing look state of the art? Thought not.
9. It's the summer, in case you hadn't noticed
It's the middle of August, and so instead of lounging about on a sofa watching films, get yourself out and about in the Great British countryside. You can even use the money you've saved by not buying a Blu-ray player to rig yourself up with some T-Shirts, shorts, and flip flops. (Or maybe a rain coat, umbrella and wellies.) Either way, by the time the summer's over, Blu-ray players will have further dropped in price.