Planning to buy a Blu-ray player? Hold on. It's already battling public indifference, technical problems, laughable features and downloadable movies. Is it any wonder Blu-ray is doomed to fail? Here are five reasons why it's heading for the grave...
1. HD movie downloads
OK so the picture quality's not quite there yet, but Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and others have already seen the future of movie viewing at home – and it doesn't come on shiny 12cm discs.
Instead services like iTunes, Xbox Live and Vudu already offer HD movies over the internet, enabling you to see the movies you want without having to hack down to the video store in the pouring rain.
With fibre-to-home broadband slowly being rolled out in the UK, who knows what the next few years will bring.
Have you seen the demos? BD-Live is a joke. It's a second-rate attempt to offer interactive features that HD DVD did first and much, much better.
It won't work on old Blu-ray players (they don't have the persistent storage) and may not work on new ones: it's not mandatory for Blu-ray player makers to include it in the hardware they sell.
Result? Large doses of confusion and frustration for anyone (un)lucky enough to buy a Blu-ray disc with BD-Live features on it.
3. Samsung thinks Blu-ray is finished
You know, the world's number one consumer electronics maker, Blu-ray stalwart.
Andy Griffiths, director of consumer electronics at Samsung UK, told Pocket Lint that Blu-ray would be dead in five years, and that it certainly wouldn't last 10.
He believes the format will be replaced by either a new kind of physical media – most likely flash memory cards if Toshiba's IFA 2008 keynote is anything to go by – or downloads. Go figure.
4. Sony thinks Blu-ray will be the last optical disc format
Blu-ray is not only finished in terms of spec, but it's also finished as a format. Optical disc technology has gone as far as it can go.
Or so says Take Miyama, Sony product manager for home video marketing in Europe. He told Electric Pig that "in the future, if [our emphasis] we have a physical media format, it will change physically. It won't look like an optical disc."
Talk of a 500GB Blu-ray prototype will only prolong the agony.
Sony has already hinted at its future direction with the launch of Bravia TVs in the US that can directly receive movies streamed over the internet. Blu-ray player not required.
5. DVD is good enough
Despite the fact that Blu-ray movies are expected to hit 12 million sales in Europe this year, they still account for just two per cent of video sales in countries like the UK.
Even by 2012 DVD will still have the edge – and that's according to the Blu-ray Disc Association's own over-enthusiastic predictions [PDF link].
The plain fact is that few of us are ever likely to swap extensive DVD collections for their Blu-ray equivalents, especially when prices for Blu-ray movies and players are still so high.
Given that many cheap DVD players now have some kind of upscaling capability, DVD will prove 'good enough' in terms of picture quality for many years to come.
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