The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Death of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.

Since the invention of the phonograph, recorded home entertainment has followed a consistent model. You have your "software" part, which holds the recorded information, and your "hardware" part which decodes and plays the information. This was necessary due to technological limitations which required the hardware to be rather large, and the software to be rather large as well. Over time software has been getting smaller. Records were huge, 8-tracks and tapes were smaller, CDs, due to their thin nature, are debatably smaller. This has also been the case with video media. VHS and Beta (and Laser Disk) were all very large, DVDs are smaller. Quality has increased as well. CDs sound better than records (although former co-blogger Ryan actually makes a compelling case that this is not necessarily so), and DVDs look better than tapes.

Recently, Apple (and other MP3-player manufacturers) destroyed this model for music. Now, instead of having a software component and a hardware component, the two are combined into one, extremely small unit. Software is acquired, more or less, out of thin air, and it is, for all practical purposes, immaterial. CDs are basically obsolete. They may hang on as a niche, but their days are numbered.

Despite this development in music, much techie-talk surrounds the next generation DVD formats of Sony's Blu-Ray vs. the competing HD-DVD. Sony put Blu-Ray technology into their most recent game system, the Playstation 3, and if memory serves, Microsoft is embracing HD-DVD. I'm telling you that neither of these will catch on, and that we all witnessed the true winner yesterday: Apple.

Apple's new "Apple TV" service apparently lets you effortless play any content from your computer (presumable through iTunes) on your TV, in 720p Hi-Def. And, as you can download an ever-increasing amount of movies and TV through Itunes, I see no reason that this technology cannot completely eliminate the DVD player, just as the iPod has basically eliminated the CD player.

Even though Blu-Ray and HD-DVD may offer superior visual quality now, for a product like Apple TV, increasing bandwidth and increasingly cheap storage will allow better and better downloadable content which will quickly match and surpass the two disc formats.

With Tivo-esque contraptions and On-Demand cable offerings this transformation is well underway, but this Apple product will probably provide the ultimate tipping point. It is only a matter of time before we can watch whatever we want, whenever we want, with the push of a button. That time is now February.

And the new iPhone isn't bad either.

2 Comments:

  • I thought dvd's limit use with the difference between pc and normal players,What do you think.?

    By Anonymous guy77762, at 8:17 AM  

  • It's a little too early to guess which will win the format war, Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, but I'd be willing to bet a year's salary on HD-DVD and for a very simple reason...no porn on Blu-Ray.

    http://gear.ign.com/articles/756/756148p1.html

    By Anonymous Scott K., at 9:28 PM  

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