Since the launch of the phonograph (and Edison’s wax wheel thingamabob) humankind has enjoyed listening to and eventually watching what was on those different types of media. Some of the most popular media formats in audio include the vinyl record, eight-track, cassette tape and the compact disc.
On the video side we’ve had a bit of a shorter history. There were many kinds of film formats that were used for personal video camera recording but video as a consumer thing really took off with VHS. Looking back at VHS it amazes me we put up with the less than stellar video quality being put out on those tapes. From that we moved on to DVD and eventually Bluray rose above HD DVD to become the high definition format of choice.
Of course millennials and others would have you believe the only way to watch video nowadays is to pay for a digital download or streaming session. Here’s the thing, while I do see these digital services as useful for renting a video, in most cases they just don’t have the quality.
Most of you reading this probably just took a double-take on that last sentence. Don’t have the quality? Are you mad?
No. No I’m not.
You see, while the videos are far less compressed than they used to be (thankfully to better internet connections now available), a digital download can be decent experience with a relatively sharp picture and good audio. However, more often than not you can see artifacting especially in scenes with a lot of movement. The colour depth tends to be lacking especially in the dark bits of film as well. To me this is incredibly distracting.
You’re now thinking I must be watching these digital videos on a less than stellar display. Well sometimes I will watch them on my Zowie 24 inch monitors but they actually have pretty good colour depth. Yes you are right, sometimes my monitors will show a lack of depth but my 32 inch Samsung 1080p hdtv has one of the best displays I have ever seen. Digital downloads on my Samsung will show a lack of colour depth as well. Believe me, this is hard to make that television do as I have it dialed in perfectly.
I never have a problem with colour depth with Bluray. When they make the transfers to Bluray the studios or whoever is doing the transferring seem to take better care when they do the compression to 1080p.
Yes it costs more to own a copy of a movie on bluray but here’s the thing. It’s good value. Most Blurays are sold with the Bluray, dvd and a digital download. Pretty good really. What’s a digital copy cost? Well often the same as the Bluray or a bit cheaper. Of course renting is available in digital as well but five to ten dollars to rent every time can add up pretty quickly.
Though I suppose that’s the weakness to my argument now as well. Most millennials see movies and music as disposable now. See the movie once and many don’t care to see it again. But perhaps that’s a deeper flaw in movies being released nowadays. They just aren’t good enough that people want to see them again. That’s a topic for another day.
Perhaps the greatest reason to buy a physical copy of a movie is that you will always have access to that movie to watch. If you rely on a digital media service like the ones on Xbox One, Playstation 4 or even on Netflix you can never be sure whether you will be able to watch the movie you want when you want to. This is because licenses to these movies, and tv shows for that matter, are always changing and one day the service may offer Back to the Future and the next day they pull it due to not having the rights to stream, rent or sell the movie.
It’s the same reason physical media is still great to have for console gaming. In fact recently one of the best examples of a game being pulled from sales is Alan Wake. This was pulled from Steam recently due to the music licenses in the game expiring making the game ILLEGAL to sell. That is an older game of course being released in the PS3/XBOX 360 days and if you owned it on physical media from those eras you are good to play the game as long as you still have a PS3 or XBOX 360 (not sure if that’s available as an XBOX One backwards compatible title).
So they cost more usually but, in a world where things may not work because of a licensing technicality, owning a visually superior Bluray is really the only way to go.
The Blurays I own will always work. Same with my DVDs (even if their quality is much more questionable).
So the next time you decide you want to watch a movie, consider buying a Bluray. You won’t regret it.