Friday night, my wife and I picked up a Sony Blu-Ray player and a bunch of discs from our local Circuit City. The player and discs were a Christmas gift from my generous in-laws.
As the Circuit City chain is in financial straits, they had some pretty good deals on players and discs, so we were able to pick up three of the first six James Bond Blu-Ray editions (I had won a fourth in an online contest a few weeks ago), Predator (a guilty pleasure), The Fifth Element (an even guiltier pleasure) and The Dark Knight. I already had those Bond movies on DVD, of course, but let's face it – I'll be upgrading those movies with every technological advance that comes along, right up to the point they're converted into some sort of fully-immersive Virtual Reality.
Oh yeah, Circuit City also threw in a free Hancock Blu-Ray disc with the purchase of the player, but I haven't watched it yet, and I'm in no hurry.
Now, we still only have a standard-definition television, so we're not getting the full benefit of the Blu-Ray technology, but I have to say I can see some improvement in picture quality and an even more pronounced upgrade in audio quality, even with our archaic set-up. Hopefully, sometime in the next year or so, we'll be able to purchase a hi-def TV, and really see what this machine is capable of.
I'm grateful, of course, that it also plays standard DVDs, since I still have a couple thousand in my library, and I'm not convinced that Blu-Ray's going to totally usurp that format soon, especially in this economy. If it hadn't been a gift, we wouldn't have been buying a Blu player for a long time, and the discs are, generally, way more expensive than regular DVDs. I can't see people rushing out to upgrade to Blu en masse, not with money so tight, and with DVDs looking and sounding pretty damned good already. Maybe in a couple years, when the hardware and software prices come down... but by then, the manufacturers will be trying to foist another new format on us, and I suspect that it may not even be a physical one.
It'll probably be exclusively digital downloads, and personally, that doesn't appeal much to me and my collector's instincts.
I'm glad I have the Blu-Ray player, though. We all know I love me my movies, and the better the quality of the viewing experience, the better I like it. That's why I had a laserdisc player back during the VHS era, and why I have Dr. No in at least four video formats... and counting.