The format war is over and Blu-ray prevailed over HD DVD. All HD programming currently comes over the air or cable at 720p or 1080i. If you have a “full HD” HDTV and don’t have it hooked up to a high definition TV you have probably have never seen it at its highest resolution of 1080p. The big question is, should you buy a Blu-ray player now or wait? <break> Here are some reasons to wait:
The current Blu-ray standard is Profile 1.1 also called “Bonus View.” Profile 1.1 includes features like picture-in-picture commentaries. Profile 2.0 or "BD-Live," will add online connectivity features including the ability to get trailers and other content over the internet. You’ll also be able to download firmware upgrades. This standard should be good for a while. The only problem is you can't buy a standalone player right now with Profile 2.0.
Blu-ray players currently cost around $500. Prices may drop by hundreds of dollars by next holiday season. Even though the competition is out of the picture a reason to cut prices could be the fact that the Blu-ray folks may want to establish a big customer base before downloaded movie transfers become the new distribution media.
New models from Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, and Samsung should hit the market as early as this summer, if not sooner. Sony just announced two new players that will incorporate Profile 2.0. The BDP-S350 will be available this summer for around $400 but will need a firmware upgrade for 2.0. The BDP-S550 will cost around $500 and will be available next fall with 2.0 included. The Panasonic DMP-BD50 will include Profile 2.0 and is expected to cost around $500. It will also offer “Deep Color” compatibility which works with HDMI 1.3 to deliver richer colors. This could be the one to buy.
|Sony BDP-S350||Sony BDP-S550||Panasonic DMP-BD50|
Upconverting DVD Players
You can currently buy a standard definition DVD player that upconverts to 1080p for under $100. The image is no match for Blu-ray 1080p video but it could get you buy until prices drop and new models emerge.
Blu-ray DVDs Don’t Have Latest Features Yet
Because the standards weren't implemented in the players the studios have been slow to add interactive features. It will take a while before Blu-ray DVDs include the features supported by profiles 1.1 and 2.0 but once they do there should be some very cool features like, “Backstage Pass,” that provides all kinds of info about things like costumes, sets, or even what the actors had for lunch, or “Peek Behind the Animation,” that lets you watch the actors create the voices.