We are living history and history is leaving us behind. In the last decade there has been a complete paradigm shift in the way we experience movies and entertainment, yet we are no better prepared than we were back in 1996 when the first DVD was introduced in Japan. Once the format had found its way around the world, a whole new approach to content creation, packaging and distribution made it easier than ever to experience media at home, at work and on the go. What took place in those first three years for the transition from VHS to DVD media in 2000, was the focus on the technology as a medium of transport and delivery rather than static physical media that required a new way of thinking about it. Video Home System (VHS) was designed as a system from the very beginning, and the architects of DVD did as well. DVD was often described as digital versatile disc, sometimes as digital videodisc. At any rate, the key here is that VHS, DVD and Blu-ray discs are only one part of the equation with the players involved creating a much broader and more sophisticated core. Components of a whole system – or gateway – provide a link between the consumer and his/her media of choosing; when, where and how they please.
Blu-ray as a gateway is an astonishing accomplishment that can only fully be appreciated by engaging it and drawing real world experiences from it. The core improvements are readily enhanced picture clarity, audio mastery and advanced functionality that allows further refinements from the remote control and system menu. As a content hub, the Blu-ray player links the viewer with his/her equipment and the equipment with their home network via wired and wireless connections as well as the Internet. Unlike the VHS player and subsequent recorder, the DVD player and other home entertainment equipment, the most recent Blu-ray players extend the functionality of the unit to include interacting with online sources for content, forums, shopping, upgrades and memberships. In addition to opportunities directly linked to an individual movie title, players can also connect with key social media networks like Netflix, Vudu, Vimeo, Youtube and a dozens of others. You can operate USB flash drives and memory, connect with your home network, view picture slideshows, music jukebox and Cable networks.
The fact that Blu-ray is often compared to and criticized as inferior with online streaming and digital downloading only goes to show how much confusion there is with technology. For some the confusion becomes resistance, reluctance and fear. The simple solution is to embrace what Blu-ray players are intended to do, add functionality not compete with standard DVD players or streaming content providers. And on top of everything else, most Blu-ray players can play all your other media as well, from DVDs to CDs and USB flash drives and hard drives. Again the point of Blu-ray as a gateway is reinforced here, a multi-format, interactive component that expands your whole movie universe.
There is a lot of chatter about the death of Blu-ray these days without any real examination of the merits of the technology as an addition to your equipment instead of an out right replacement. Many believe the technology was mistakenly rushed to market and then once there the war between Blu-ray and HD-DVD distanced consumers rather than prepared them, and there’s some truth in that argument. After Blu-ray won out in the end, the next effort by studio’s and the The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) the idea that Blu-ray would eventually replace DVD rather than augment your home movie collection, further distancing consumers who felt threatened and pressured after years of investment in equipment and titles. The last thing anyone wants is to find themselves forced into buying a digital television only to find themselves paying more for less. The real value in Blu-ray media is not so much the physical disc itself but the gateway afforded by the whole system, including the player and the interoperability that connects your home system with the Internet.
A standard Blu-ray equipped home entertainment system might look like this: Your HD television connected to your Blu-ray player, audio components and the Internet. There can be other components like a DVR, VHS/DVD Burner, game consoles, Cable box and other devices but the core units provide you with a Blu-ray capable experience incorporating features like BD-Live, Picture-in-Picture, Maximum Movie Mode, Internet and a remote control that allows you to engage these features while you’re watching your movie. Another added benefit of Blu-ray discs is the vast storage space available, space that allows room for considerable bonus content, various releases of the film such as extended and director’s cut, featurettes, slideshows and the like.
Blu-ray: Expand your whole movie universe!