Blu-ray - Safe to Buy?
With Toshiba’s announced abandonment of the HD DVD format and Blu-ray left as the only contender to replace DVD, it’s
finally safe to purchase a Blu-ray player. After all it would be nice to watch 1080p Blu-ray movies on your 1080p HDTV.
Also you will be able watch your old DVD’s up-scaled to 1080p. Has the time to jump in and make that purchase arrived?
To no one’s surprise once Toshiba withdrew from the playing field retail prices of Blu-ray players are on the rise.
With the lower priced HD DVD going the way of the Betamax, the downward pressure on Blu-ray player pricing is gone.
It is not uncommon to find prices of individual players more that $100 higher than they were in mid-January. Gone
are all of the Blu-ray manufacturer’s instances rebates as well as the 2-7 free movies you used to get.
Eventually lower cost Blu-ray will come, but the lower price will come at the price of quality and convenience for
consumers. Many first generation HD DVD and Blu-ray Players used HQV processors to perform the up-scaling and de-interlacing
chores when manipulating DVD’s to high definition resolutions. As the price of HD Video device got lower, player
manufacturers incorporated less capable processors to keep production cost down. Currently only the ($2000) Denon 3800DDCI
and the (Dual Blu-ray HD DVD player) Samsung BD-UP5000 still utilise HQV to handle the heavy lifting. If you own a large
DVD collection and you don’t want to re-invest in a Blu-ray copy of your favourites, then the aforementioned models are
your best options for avoiding the disappointment of sub-par up-scaling. The Samsung BD-UP5000 is the one to get, as you
can also take advantage of the fire sale happening on HD DVD movies. Alternatively, you could hunt down a Samsung BD-P1200
Blu-ray player or a Toshiba HD-XA2 (yes the HD DVD player), as they both used the HQV processor and you may even find one
new in a box. Your final option is to purchase a Toshiba HD-A35, HD-A30 or HD-A3 HD DVD player, (which can all be had for
under $100 or so, while supplies last), they typically handling the up-scaling duties better than a similarly priced
When lower cost Blu-ray player models are introduced don’t be surprised if they won’t play DVD! The Blu-ray standard
does not require backward compatibility to the DVD format; it is an option for Blu-ray player manufacturers, it is not
mandatory. Of course there will be a superior model available from the same manufacturer that is backward compatible
for an additional $50 or $100 (the extra electronics required to perform the up-scaling duties do have a cost associated
with it, which will be passed on to the consumer).
If you like all the extra interactive features (directors’ notes, alternate scenes, etc), you may be somewhat
disappointed. The Blu-ray format is at least a year behind where HD DVD was in this area. Most Blu-ray players
on the market are Profile 1.0 compliant with no upgrade
possibilities, and a few are BD Profile 1.1 compliant.
BD Profile 2.0 will get Blu-ray players to where the
HD DVD was with regard to interactive content , (if you are unfamiliar with the various BD profiles,
click here for the full explanation). The really surprising thing is, all of the Sony standalone players are only BD Profile
1.0 compliant (talk about not supporting the advancement of your own technology). The PlayStation gaming Console can achieve
BD Profile 1.1 or 2.0 (BD Live) compliance through a firmware update.
If the Warner decision is what prompted Toshiba to abandon HD DVD, consumers would have been better off if
Warner remained neutral or supported HD DVD exclusively. Another year of the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray battle would
have kept the fire to the feet of Sony and the other Blu-ray manufacturers (as well as Toshiba) to rapidly improve
the offering and lower the cost consumers.
BD Profile 1
Under BD Profile 1.0 (or Profile 1 Grace Period) Blu-ray players don’t require an Ethernet Port (Internet connections).
Picture-in-Picture (PIP), Secondary Audio support, Local storage and a Virtual File System are optional.
BD Profile 1.1
Under BD Profile 1.1 (Profile 1 Final Standard Profile) Picture-in-Picture (PIP), Secondary audio, Virtual File System
and support for 256 MB of local or removable storage are mandatory. An Ethernet (internet network) port is still not required.
BD Profile 2.0
BD Profile 2.0 (or BD Live) Picture-in-Picture (PIP), Secondary audio, Virtual File System, an Ethernet (internet network)
and support for 1 GB of local or removable storage are mandatory.