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.


Anonymous 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?

Anonymous said...

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