The Golden Age of Movie Collecting

 Blu-Ray, Budget, DVD  Comments Off on The Golden Age of Movie Collecting
Feb 202009
 

It was 1998 when I first started collecting DVDs, and oh what a time it was. Buy one get ones were all over the web, it was difficult to pay more than five or six bucks for a disc back then, if you knew where to go. It was the golden age of collecting and in a very real way, it was responsible for the super fast adoption of DVD.

Blu-Ray has seen its share of buy 2 get one deals, super special pricing and so forth, but it in no way compares to the early days of DVD. It was the perfect storm. I was working for an online company at the time and was very in-tune with the fledgling industry as a whole. The rise of the internet played a big part in the surge of consumer technology. New product news traveled fast and people wanted it, now.

The general idea behind internet sales sites was not to make money, at least not for a few years or even a decade. It was all about being cool and getting as many customers in your doors as possible. Music, movies and book sales were the driving force behind Amazon and many other companies, they practically gave away the media. Just to ensure they were not going to make any money soon, they often threw in free shipping.

I miss those days but I also realize that they had to end in order for these companies to survive. I grit my teeth when I look at prices for new releases and have had to adopt a different mindset when adding to my collection. In the old days. I bought everything the week it came out, assuming it had received high ratings for picture and sound quality. Today it is more difficult to get me out there on any given Tuesday, I can wait most of the time.

Waiting serves two purposes and unless I absolutely know I have to get the movie, I wait. First off, waiting means the price will come down, way down in most cases. Second, I end up finding I really didn’t need the movie. I rent it and will probably never watch it again.

Waiting was unthinkable before, I would miss out on the good deals… hey, wait a minute… you know what? That old marketing ploy actually worked. Amazon got me collecting on the cheap, they hooked me like a pusher births a junkie. All those years ago I thought I was taking advantage of these companies but they were just waiting for my addiction to fully kick in.

I don’t collect as much crap as I used to and I figure the stores I buy at are even making a little money off of me now. Perhaps Blu-Ray needs to go out and offer up a few cheap highs to the public. It worked in the past, besides, I could deal with a good sale on Blu-Ray movies right now. I still have a taste for the addiction but I am staying on the wagon, at least for now.

Which HDMI Cable do You Need?

 Budget, Home Theater Equipment  Comments Off on Which HDMI Cable do You Need?
Feb 162009
 

The HDMI confusion is exasperating for everyone. How did
something designed to make things easier become a simmering caldron of
confusion? Lets try to sort out the facts from the myths.

As I look behind my component stand, I slowly lower my head
in shame. The rat’s nest of cables is beyond comprehension and the worst thing
is that I did my 6 month rewire just a week ago. I dream of the day I finally
step up to a complete HDMI system that uses a single cable between every
component, a magic cable that send both the video and audio. I could go from
what looks like hundreds of cables down to less than 10. That my friends, would
be a miracle.

Every time I step into an electronics store, I am confronted
with $60, $70, even $150 HDMI cables, and that is for a 2-meter one. How is it
that the HDMI cables I use and cherish are less than half that and the fact is
you can get them much, much cheaper… Like for under $15 and it will work just
as well as the marketing marvel from Monster Cable that sells for well over
$100.

Part of the problem comes from the early versions of HDMI,
version 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2 are all capable of transmitting 1080p video at the
same time as the lossless DTS and Dolby formats. This is more than enough for
95% of the people, in fact is well beyond their systems capability.  That brings us to version 1.3.

HDMI version 1.3 comes in 3 flavors, 1.3a, 1.3b, and the top
of the line 1.3c. They all do the same great job of handling HDCP, 1080p and
lossless audio, not a bit better than the previous versions however. Where you
do want to consider the 1.3c cables is if you wish to pass a DVD-A, SACD or
uncompressed audio signal to your receiver. Keep in mind that both the source
and the receiver must meet 1.3c requirements, if anything in the system is less
than 1.3c, you lose all benefits of having that cable version.

In addition to the audio formats I mentioned, 1.3c is also
capable of passing the new extended color formats, Deep Color and x.v.YCC. Currently
neither of these is built into the Blu-Ray spec. and although a number of
players claim to have the capability, it is wasted since the discs don’t carry
the additional color signals. Several HD camcorders do record in this format
however so the capability may be useful if you have one of these and a TV that
is capable.

 

 The bottom line is that getting a higher version cable won’t hurt you, it just won’t help you
except in a very small number of circumstances, if you have the equipment that
matches from source to Receiver and TV, or you just want to pay more for a
cable.

Don’t fall for the Monster marketing system that grades each
cable based on bandwidth. Every one of their cables does a great job of passing
every possible format, their grading system is an all out lie and one you will
pay for if you purchase the more expensive cables. An HDMI cable can’t change
the quality of the image like a processor in a receiver or TV, it just passes
along a digital signal. Do your wallet a favor and find the less expensive
cables and spend the rest on a few new movies.

Blu-Ray Discs for Less Than $10

 Blu-Ray, Budget  Comments Off on Blu-Ray Discs for Less Than $10
Feb 062009
 

Amazon has always been a leader in offering great deals on media and these Blu-Ray discs for less than $10 sale is no exception. Of course, there is a catch, as always, in this case, you have to buy multiple discs, and the more you buy the more you save.

Just choose discs from the generous selection. Buy three and save an additional 30%, buy six and save an additional 40%, or buy ten and save an additional 50%. Pretty simple and it appears that Amazon hasn’t raised the normal price of the discs for the sale.

I picked up Death Proof and Planet Terror, both of which have greatly improved picture and sound compared to their DVD release. In addition, I grabbed the first season of The Universe, a favorite of mine along with three other picks and received the full 40% off. I couldn’t find ten discs I wanted but the choices in this sale are pretty good, I highly recommend checking them out.

Robert Iger Wants to Raise Blu-Ray Prices

 Blu-Ray, Budget, General Ranting  Comments Off on Robert Iger Wants to Raise Blu-Ray Prices
Feb 052009
 

Disney chief Robert Iger suggested in a recent interview
that Disney needs to raise their prices on Blu-Ray discs. I was shocked and
more than a little disturbed by this, not that I think it would last long if
attempted. Where the Iger’s thought does worry me though, what if people kept
buying?

Blu-Ray prices are already high and Disney is near the top
of the pricing lists already. I have always written this off to the fact that
Disney makes superb, even amazing Blu-Rays, from picture and audio quality to
their interactive features. They rock the Blu-Ray world and even include the SD
DVD version in many of their Blu-Ray sets. I am willing to pay for this convenience
sometimes, at others times I figure I can wait and buy when prices come down.

Disney holds its movies in a vault for long periods, only
releasing classics for short periods, which keeps their value up.  Many of their classics are worthy of this and
I understand the idea of maintaining the value of these movies by releasing
them at intervals that bring the magic of Disney to generation after generation
without wearing the movie thin. I wait for these releases and relive moments of
my childhood, often with my young nephews.

The scary thing is that raising prices across the board on
Disney Blu-Rays hurts the consumer, especially in these tough economic times.
Disney sales will drop and that is the last thing Blu-Ray needs right now, it
is important to at least keep things where they are, not move backwards.

I hope Iger and the rest of the Disney heads realize the
power they hold and make a decision that will help ensure their classics are
shown in the best possible format available for generations to come.

Is it Time to go Blu-Ray?

 Blu-Ray, Budget, DVD, Home Theater Equipment  Comments Off on Is it Time to go Blu-Ray?
Feb 042009
 

Is it time to go Blu-Ray? The answer is, well, that depends.
Blu-Ray is a superior format, better than DVD in every way except price. With
entry level, Blu-Ray players found for $200 or so from major brands like Sony,
Samsung and Panasonic the time has come for many of us to jump in.

Prices on Blu-Ray players are dropping as quickly as they
did with DVD, which means we have a few years before the players and media
reach current, or close to current DVD prices. This depends a lot on Blu-Rays
ability to continue making its way into homes. If sales slow because of the
economy, we will have a longer wait.

One thing to avoid when purchasing a new Blu-Ray player is bargain
basement machines. I was shocked to see that Consumer Reports listed the
Sylvania player as their best buy. This player and others from brands like
Insignia will not play newer Blu-Ray discs and will continue to become more useless
with each day. You don’t need a 2.0 Profile machine but it must absolutely be
capable of accepting firmware updates.

Blu-Ray players are Java based which allows them to be
easily upgraded by the consumer (Free of charge) as new features are added.
Unlike DVD, Blu-Ray can and does change, you have to be able to upgrade or your
fancy new machine will sit unused after just a few months. Fortunately, most
players are upgrade friendly.

The advent of 2.0 Profile Blu-Ray players allows the
consumer to connect directly to the internet for automatic updates which makes their
use much easier overall. In the event you have an older player or are unable to
make an internet connection, manufacturers provide upgrade discs through the
mail or you can download the update on your computer and burn it to a CD.

Profile 2.0 players are also able to take advantage of all
of the BD-Live functionality, which brings interactive features to the
experience. I am not blown away by BD-Live, at least not yet but I have found
some fun games and in the case of Sony, a fan club where I can register my
Blu-Ray discs and receive points towards additional purchases or even free
Blu-Ray discs. If you can afford the little bit extra for a 2.0 Profile player,
it is worth it for ease of use but certainly not a deal breaker in my opinion.

Blu-Ray disc prices are also a consideration but I have
found that waiting for bargains pays off. In addition, I rent many Blu-Rays
from Blockbuster. Netflix also carries Blu-Rays and both services will automatically
update your queue so that you don’t have to mess with doing it yourself.

If you have an HDTV, it is probably time to upgrade just for
the difference in picture quality. If you have an HD audio capable receiver,
you should really go ahead and jump. I know the movies cost more right now but
you can always rent and in the end, we are having this discussion because we
want the best possible picture and sound available. DVD is far from dead and I
weigh my buying decisions on the type of movie and the benefits I can expect to
see if I buy Blu-Ray.

Do yourself a favor and treat that fancy HDTV to a completely
new level of amazing, even if you can’t start collecting the media, you can
still enjoy the magic that is Blu-Ray.