Is Blu-Ray an Inferior Format to DVD?

We all know that Blu-Rays are loaded with better audio/video quality and superior special features when compared to DVD. But is the experience of watching them actually more enjoyable?

Peter mentioned this piece in yesterday’s Page 2, but I thought it was worth revisiting. Khoi Vinh, who used to be the Design Director at The New York Times, has written up a provocative post on the topic. Vinh complains about a number of issues relating to Blu-Ray players, including firmware updates and speed:

None of the four or five DVD players I’ve owned ever required firmware updates, but this Blu-Ray player seems to survive on a monthly diet of them. Each firmware update is labeled with a long and confusing version number (e.g., BEv1.03_090528_BDP3600_XAA) and provides virtually no clue as to what improvements it holds or problems it corrects…Speed is also a general problem with Blu-Ray. Network-connected features slow down the disc loading experience so much that I’ve resorted to disabling some of these ostensibly value-added features. Even without the network issues, a disc takes longer to load and menus take longer to navigate than on a stock DVD player.

Vinh concludes: “[A]side from the fact that Blu-Ray’s high definition picture is so ridiculously gorgeous, the whole format is demonstrably worse than what came before it.” And you know what, folks? I’m inclined to agree.

Let’s put aside the technical arguments for a moment, and simply ask: does the pleasure of watching Blu-Rays outweigh the potential annoyances? I love watching Blu-Rays, but there’s a reason why much of my Blu-Ray collection languishes on my shelf. The players aren’t up to snuff and the speed with which the discs load is terrible. Blu-Ray has killed the “casual watching” that I used to enjoy on DVD, where I could pop in a disc, skip the menus, and be up and running within seconds. With Blu-Ray, it frequently takes 30 seconds just to turn the damn thing on, let alone load a disc and slog through the difficult-to-skip trailers. I’m not trying to complain about Blu-Rays benefits, but it is interesting to think about how Blu-Rays compare with DVDs. Maybe the situation will improve in the future, but history has shown that movie and hardware companies typically take steps towards complexity, rather than simplicity.

What do you guys think? Do you love your Blu-Rays? Do you miss the days of DVDs? Do you think watching Blu-Rays is a pain in the ass? Be honest.

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