Saturday, May 23, 2009

You HDTV is just a TV without Blu-Ray

It's funny... I went to Fry's this morning to buy a portable hard disk. My pal Joe bought my iMac, so I need to off-load some stuff. I don't have any disks formatted in Fat32. Networking Windows 7 and Mac OS 10.5 is a bitch.

So I went to Fry's. There at the front-entrance is a big booth and sales campaign stating "Your HDTV is just a TV without Blu-Ray". That's a good campaign! I like it. I totally agree with that statement, and it is very well said.

It bothers me to no end when I go into one of these restaurants that have just invested in a nice new shinny HDTV and see a distorted squashed SD signal on that screen. This just happened last night at Poquito Mas. There we were, watching Cleveland and Orlando play basketball on a brand new 1080p 55inch Vizio. The players were squashed and picture was pixelated. What a shame!

Most of you folks don't seem to know or understand that you don't get the goods out of an HDTV unless you change your signal. You don't seem to understand that DVD contains only 216,000 pixels per frame in 16x9 letterbox mode. You don't seem to understand that Blu-Ray contains 2,073,600 pixels in that same 16x9 mode. That is a 960% increase in resolution. You don't seem to understand that there is a difference between a 622% to 960% increase in resolution 100% of the time. Conversely, the DVD contains only 10.4% of the resolution of a Blu-Ray. This is a massive differential. If you can't tell the difference, you are vision impaired. Go get lasik.

It should be noted that Blu-Ray has been custom tailored to perfectly match your 1080p HDTV. Displaying 216,000 pixels on a screen designed to display 2,073,600 pixels sucks. Ergo DVD on a HDTV sucks, period. What about upscaling? I have the best upscaling DVD player in the world. It is the Playstation-3. This is par for the course. They best upscaling DVD players are always Blu-Ray players. As the proud owner of the best upscaling DVD player in the entire world, I can tell you I would rather see the Blu-Ray every single time. DVD is a last resort.

HD-DVD players can do this trick also, but they have been surpassed of late. They ceased advancement more than a year ago.

It should be noted that the audio difference Blu-Ray and DVD is quantum. DVD does audio on the basis of 16 bit integer sampling. That's pretty good. It is CD quality. Blu-Ray can do 24 bit integer sampling. How big is that difference? It is the difference between 65,535 and 16,777,216. If you make $65,535 bucks a year, you're doing okay. If you make $16,777,216 per year, you are one rich bastard. A lot of studios, particularly LionsGate, do 24 bit almost exclusively these days. DTS-HD Master Audio is awesome.

So what the hell is the objection? Why the hell would anyone dis this concept? Why would you reject a vastly superior product?

I find that there are two answers. One comes from the lower class. The other comes from the upper middle class.

The lower class rejects this technology claiming they can't see or hear the difference, but this is nothing but sour grapes. The reality is that they cannot afford a $300 device. Most still haven't bought an HDTV in the first place. Getting a 5.1 surround with HDMI is out of the question. DVD's just became affordable two years ago when they hit the $99 point. Some members of the lower class had to pay that off in three monthly installments. I don't intend to insult you if you make a total household income of $40,000 and have 3 kids to raise. That is a tough budget assignment. You have my sympathy. However, you should be honest. You know Blu-Ray destroys DVD... if you have ever seen it.

Some members of the upper middle class reject Blu-Ray claiming this is a crass attempt by Hollywood to re-sell you all of the same movies you have already purchased before. I understand this complaint. I too feel that there is a bit of truth to this complaint. I did buy some of my favorite movies on DVD. I have replaced some of them (Road Warrior, Bladerunner, Dark City, The Thing, Being There, etc.) with nice new shiny Blu-Rays. I am passing along the DVDs to friends and family as I replace them. Still there is no question that the Blu-Ray utterly crushes the life out of the DVD. Dark City never enjoyed a good release before Blu-Ray. Bladerunner also had some moderate to poor releases. This new Blu-Ray is astounding. I am not bitter or upset about getting vastly better copies of my favorite movie. On the contrary, I am delighted. It is irrational to be otherwise.

However, one key point should be noted: I never went hog wild for DVD. It took me a long time to sign on with DVD. DVD did nothing to replace the TV recording function of the VHS. This was a huge missing feature. I did not feel that rentals warranted a $500 initial investment. PS2 eventually got me into the clan, but not for several years. Also, I fully understood that DVD was just a transitional format. DVD is not HD and never has been. We were already talking about an HD revolution in 2001. I knew there would be something better soon.

It astounds me to see how many upper-middle class gentlemen with good graduate degrees, great jobs ($200K plus) and a good investment portfolio absolutely missed these key points. They went hog wild for DVD and bought as many as 2,000 movies in this format. I don't understand that investment at all. Why did you do that? Did you not know that HD was coming? Did you not know that DVD was just plain-old NTSC standard definition? Did you not know that a much larger container and more powerful device would be necessary to push 2 million pixels and quantum audio improvements? Why did you run after DVD like that?

Naturally, if you bought 2,000 DVD movies at around $12 per pop (average over time) you spent about $24,000 USD. You won't appreciate the fact that this investment is now obsolete and vastly better copies can be had. It makes you feel stupid. It makes you feel like you have been had.

I don't know what to tell you. You fucked up. Blu-Ray is still the best there is. Everybody aught to have one.

One of my best old bosses recently sent me an eMail asking the following question: "So have you heard about the coming Super HD revolution? What are you going to do with all those Blu-Rays when the Super HD Blu appears on the market?"

He was trying to get me to see it his way. He bought 3,000+ DVDs. His catalog is posted online. He likes to boast about it.

Yes indeed, there is something on the wind right now. Super HD is indeed on the way, but I don't want to get my hopes up just yet. I would love to see 8 megapixel screens. I would love to shoot 8 megapixel videos. I would love to buy a Super HD Blu. I can't wait. Unfortunately, I think Hollywood may disappoint me.