Blu-Ray: Consumer tech with pro headaches

Broken Blu-ray discKhoi Vinh is a well-respected designer (he reworked the website for the New York Times) and is in demand as a speaker at tech and design conferences around the world. In other words, he's a bit of a geek. And thus I find his experiences with and observations about the current state of Blu-Ray to be sadly affirming of my own. Here's his money quote:
What I wanted, and what I would be willing to guess most consumers want out of Blu-Ray, is simply better looking home video. That shouldn't have been hard to do at all, but the business agenda of the entertainment and technology industries stepped in and subverted that simple equation until it became a complex mess. If you haven't yet made the switch to Blu-Ray, I would urge you to consider carefully before you do.
Khoi is expressing frustration at consumer-grade technology that has professional-grade complexity. I share his pain. Our Sony Blu-Ray disc player continues to gather dust because it refuses to cooperate with our Onkyo A/V receiver. For a long while, I blamed the receiver, and even sent it in for diagnostics and repair. It was returned after a months-long interval while the service company tried without success to replicate the problem. We still can't use the player without plugging it directly into the TV, bypassing the receiver's video circuitry (although still being able to use the digital audio). As a result, we simply don't watch Blu-Ray movies.

As Vinh observes, the Blu-Ray picture is exquisite...when it works. But in my experience, this technology is still not ready for prime time on too many levels.


I've noticed that my Samsung Blu-ray player is far, far less forgiving on scuffed or mistreated discs that I sometimes get from Netflix.

But regardless of how pristine the media is, quite often the player altogether refuses to acknowledge that a DVD has been inserted. And I've found that some BR discs aren't sometimes recognized until I power-cycle the unit but that problem does not seem disc-specific. Over the Christmas holidays, I had to remove one BR disc, insert another and wait for it to be read, then re-insert the first before the player would recognize it. Also, the menus often seem sluggish on BR discs.

BR movies do look great, but I don't know that they're really worth the hassle.

Well, at least my household isn't the minority, it seems.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on January 11, 2011 9:29 AM.

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