Thursday, May 29, 2008

Why I'm Going to Pass on Blu-Ray

Being a home theater buff, I jumped in early in the high definition movie game. I already had an Xbox 360, so it was relatively painless for me to purchase the HD-DVD add-on. I bought a handful of movies and the quality was always fantastic. In my basement I have a 106" projector from Panasonic and its much easier to tell the quality improvements of high definition movies on the big screen.

Now that HD-DVD has ceased to exist, I've contemplated whether or not to buy a Blu-Ray player. So far I've opted not to, and I will probably maintain that position. The reason is that I see movie downloads taking over in the near future. I have always been able to download a small selection of HD movies on my Xbox 360, but it takes a long time for the download to complete. But a couple of new options may soon change that.

Apple TV allows you to stream HD movies on a rental basis. From what I understand, HD movies begin playing within minutes with a fast broadband connection rather than hours. Furthermore, Apple recently signed contracts that enable them to offer downloads of movies on the same day the DVD is released. Its a great little device, but the prices are a bit expensive in my opinion. New HD releases are currently $4.99, but I've gotten used to paying a monthly flat fee at Netflix for 3 rentals at a time.

Netflix last week released a set-top box made by Roku that is HD capable. Free movie downloads are included with a regular Netflix membership and movies start playing right away. The downside is that HD movies are not currently available and the selection of films is currently very limited.

Apple TV clearly has the better library of new films, but I love the Netflix monthly membership model. Its only a matter of time before these services become full featured movie boxes with quick downloads and huge film libraries at low prices. If this happens soon, I'll be skipping Blu-Ray altogether.

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