Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Panasonic Blu-ray Hi-Def DVD player:
Resistance is futile

I generally don't buy first-gen products. I usually wait until the second generation, with lower prices, more choices and fewer bugs. I'm also wary about investing money in electronic formats that may not have staying power. I never owned a Betamax VCR or an Elcasette or MiniDisc audio recorder, but did buy a quadraphonic receiver, a bunch of LaserDiscs and a handful of DVD-Audio discs. I've also owned a Corvair and four Fiats, but no Edsel. My crystal ball is 70% right.
The Hi-Def DVD scene is complicated and unsettled, with two competing and incompatible formats: Blu-ray and HD DVD.
  • Picture quality can be great with either, but Blu-ray offers longer playing time, and has support from more movie studios, and more consumer electronics companies and PC makers. Blu-ray also has the stupider name, and Blu-ray players cost much more than HD DVD players.
  • I like the idea that Blu-ray is supported by traditional enemies Panasonic and Sony (who were on opposite sides in the VHS vs. Betamax war), and Apple, HP and Dell.
  • On the other hand, Microsoft and Intel are backing HD DVD.
  • On the third hand, some movie studios and hardware makers are backing both formats, or neither format. Universal Studios is the only movie maker to support HD DVD exclusively.
  • And on the fourth hand, Sony's super-popular new PlayStation 3 uses Blu-Ray, so lots of people will have Blu-ray movie players in their homes, even if they bought the PS3 primarily for games.
  • And, it's also possible that both formats will disappear, to be replaced by some dark horse format, or by fast downloads.
I was prepared to let the dust settle, and wait until one format won before making the invstment.
That sensible/logical/cautious approach ended instantly, when I saw a movie being played on a Panasonic DMP-BD10. With the right movie and the right HDTV, this magnificent machine can show you the elusive hair on a pimple on the ass of a very small flea. The details and color were like Kodachrome, or a very clean window.
The remote control is sensible, 7.1 audio is absolutely outstanding, and Panasonic offered three freebie movies. The DMP-BD10 has the power of the Borg, and my resistance was futile. I paid the thousand bucks, and don't regret it. You can ask me again in three or four years. More info at the Panasonic website.

2 comments:

Arnie C. said...

I, too, was planning to wait until one side won. Now maybe I won't wait. Do you think there will be any after-Christmas discounts on the Pana?

Louis said...

There are always discounts. After Xmas doesn't matter. No one pays list price on audio or video, except for Bose or Apple.