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The state of Home Entertainment

circa 2008

| Posted: Mar 3, 2008 5:24 am

For my first post in the revamped Digital Lounge, I thought I would run a small commentary which would serve as a basis for all future posts and reviews. It serves two purposes; the first - for readers who may have lapsed interest in home theater, or those hiding under a rock for a few years. Second - so I can look back in ten years time at how things are today, because at that point I will almost certainly have lost my mind, so this will come in handy.

 

The year is 2008. The month is March.

 

The DVD format is doing well. Most Australians own at least one DVD player in their home, and prices for both movies and players have dropped massively. A solid player from a good manufacturer retails for under $100. The format has now turned ten years locally. Every year since its inception, sales have grown, though this wasn't the case in 2007. There are many possible reasons as to why this could have occurred such as market saturation or the fact that most big releases have already been released. Piracy is another potential killer, and then there's the looming shadow of new, and improved formats - namely Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

 

Speaking of HD-DVD, in the real world not many people knew about it, and even less people bought it. As a result, it's now HD-DED. As I write this, I'm looking over the pile of $9.95 impulse buy bargains I purchased earlier in the week. Yes, I took part in stripping the carcass of the format. It's kind of sad really, because it was a good piece of technology, and with good hardware; it actually came out of the gate with much better hardware and software than Blu-ray did. However, compared to Blu-ray it just didn't have the content nor the industry support. And I don't care what others say, no market could sustain both formats forever.

 

Blu-ray has made a respectable dent in the home entertainment landscape in Australia, and over the last few months I have noticed a trend away from consumers referring to it as "Blue what?", to "Oh yes, that new DVD thing", so improvements are being made. Of course most Australians have been introduced to Blu-ray through the PlayStation 3, and for good reason - for $699 you can't buy a better Blu-ray player - hell even for $999 you can't. For this reason it's a good buy, plus it plays games and music and internet and... well, it's a Swiss army knife of a device.

 

While the future for Blu-ray certainly looks bright, especially now the format war has come to an end, it remains to be seen whether it will take off like DVD did. I suspect it will not, but will certainly be the last optical disc format. Toshiba has said that digital content downloads will begin to dominate from next year, but I don't think anybody truly believes it will, not even Toshiba. In fact, in ten years time, I bet it still hasn't!

 

So, as I begin to take the mammoth journey with you, dear readers, it shall certainly lead to exciting times for movie lovers, and those that like seeing a shelf of shiny blue cases.

 

Oh, and hi future Ben!

 

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