Monday, January 15, 2007

Blu Balls

There is a home entertainment war a-brewin', though it might be off the radar of most of y'all. It has (or had) the potential to be a VHS vs. Beta type of situation. For those of you who still answer survey questions on MySpace like "have you ever kissed someone, or taken a drink" in earnest, you may need to go to Wikipedia to find out what I'm talking about.
This time the two competing formats are HD-DVD and Blu Ray. Both are flavors of the next generation of DVD that can deliver Hi def. content to your TV. They both have big names in the industry backing them, tons of money and resources, and though both have slightly different tech specs, neither, when looked at objectively, seem to tilt the scales as far as just being able to deliver better quality or usability.
The form factors (size and shape) of VHS and Beta were different enough that they could not have a hybrid machine to play both, and we may find this to be the case with HD-DVD and Blu Ray.
The disks, to the naked eye, look precisely the same. But at the teeny level, they are different. Radically different. The HD-DVD uses a laser very similar to current DVD players, but the disc itself is arranged differently, and the software is compressed differently. Blu Ray uses a laser that is, predictably, BLUE. The shorter wavelength allows the disc to pack the little pits much closer together. HD-DVD and Blu ray are different enough that producing a dual format player, would pose a challenge on a technical level. But the technologies are just a part of it. It seems the companies backing the two flavors are against a hybrid player as well because, "hey consumer, fuck you!" Note; dual players have been announced, but not delivered, and may never be delivered. And one company is even looking into a disc that is dual formatted by using substrate layers.
The release and implementation of these two formats have been...I think it's safe to say "disastrous" so far. The fit, finish, and quality has not been there. Players have taken up to a minute to load discs without any activity displayed. The picture has not been all that good. The menu systems are kludgy. And America doesn't care. Those who do remember the VHS vs. BETA crap want no part of anything simmilar. And they don't want to re-buy all their movies in a different format. Most TVs can't reap the benefits of the revved up disc resolution, and the conservative entertainment companies (I thought they were all supposed to be lefty liberals) are not releasing their best titles, necessarily. (Except you can get Serenity on HD-DVD). And to add insult to industry (pun!), the delivery times have been laaaaaaaate. by more than a year. And those few titles available have trickled out like a glacier in a mixed metaphor.
Most of the serious pundits backed Blu Ray. it seemed a better, or at least more innovative spec (but only slightly--and that was subjective). A lot of the HD geek sights I visit liked it, and Apple computer did as well (though they have hedged their bets and the Quicklime architecture can do both).
But there were a lot of Important things that happened last week. Apple had an expo. And even bigger for the electronics world was the Consumer Electronics Show...but strangely, the most important event that may decide the fate of HD-DVD vs. Blu Ray: The Adult Entertainment EXpo. I'm not kidding.
Adult entertainment goes where no one else dares to go. (Scrub that visual out of your head) If there is a delivery method that just hits the market, no matter how improbable or goofy a model it may be, the artificial-cherry scented ooze of pr0n will leak its pseudopodia into that...crevice.
Without pr0n, your internet would be a shell of what it is. The adult entertainment industry, also, chose VHS over Beta. There were other factors, but pr0n made it happen. And last week, those Lords and Ladies of sleaze chose HD-DVD.
Blu Ray, we hardly knew you.

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