Monday, July 7, 2014

Home video - how much better can it get?

When I was a kid, I had a VHS copy of Star Wars that my uncle videotaped from his laser disc. I also had copies of Jaws and Back to the Future where I taped the TV broadcasts. I watched all of these numerous times, but I'm sure that if you were to pop one in now, I would find the video quality to be completely unwatchable. It's a safe bet because I remember about a year or two after having my first DVD player, I tried to watch an official copy of The Naked Gun that I had on VHS and didn't finish it.

I never got into laserdisc, but let's face it - DVD was a huge step forward from VHS. Even if you didn't have a fancy TV, the picture quality was noticeably different. Then if you went out and got a nice flat-panel HDTV, I REALLY could tell the difference, and my VCR became more of a historical curiosity than anything else.

The step up to Blu-Ray wasn't quite as dramatic. Yeah, if you have a TV that's 42 inches or greater, you're going to see a difference - depending on the quality of the transfer. (I've seen some Blu-Rays that didn't look much better than a standard DVD, and I've seen some DVDs that looked better than some lousy Blu-Rays. These are all exceptions to the rule, but they're out there.) I'm a big enough of a movie geek where I've replaced much of my movie collection (my all-time favorites anyway) from DVD to Blu-Ray. Still, I have quite a few DVDs, and unless the transfer is really crappy, I have no problem watching them. (Recently watched the DVD of Death Proof. Looked good to me. Plus, my son has watched many Disney classics like Cinderella, Snow White, Tarzan, etc. on DVD, and I never look at them and think they could use improvement. Maybe the Blu-Ray would dazzle the hell out of me, but I'm not in a rush to re-purchase these titles.)

So what's next? 4K and eventually 8K. Right now you can buy 4K TVs, and there is some 4K content out there streaming from Netflix. Apparently you have to own a really big TV to notice the difference and/or sit really close to the screen (like 65 inches - mine's only 50, and I'm kinda fine with it).

I dunno. I sit there and see maybe more creases and cracks in the faces of actors than I want to see sometimes. I've never felt the need to see more.

Let's face it, we live in a capitalistic society that's always trying to get us to buy stuff. They tried to get us all on board with 3D TVs, but you don't see too much of that around anymore. Now it's 4K, but I'm not sure if the average consumer - many of whom are still buying DVDs - feels like he needs more. Eventually it's going to get to a point where it simply can't look any better, and I think that we're getting pretty close to that point here.

The main thing is that I don't want to replace my movie collection again. Then again, that might not be too bad, as it seems that more and more people prefer to stream their movies, and physical copies of movies are becoming less and less popular - which is why I can find sets of 4 Blu-Ray movies for $20 at Costco.

Then again, maybe our entire economy will collapse if people learn to be happy with what they have. Forget I said anything. GO OUT AND SPEND YOUR MONEY!!!

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