Blu Ray – A Rant
I received the Japanese James Bond Blu-Ray set for Christmas. Very pleased. Half the discs won’t play. Not so pleased. Return to the shop. Many apologies. They order me a new set. I receive the replacement set a few days later. It too has the same problem. i return it, and I receive a refund without further discourse.
I check online and discover my Japanese Blu Rays are encoded Region A, as is my player, as are US Blu Rays. I order the US Bond Blu Ray set as I really want to own these. They also don’t play.
So it’s now March and my $200 Blu Ray Christmas present still doesn’t work. I know, I could download the lot quickly, but I want to do the right thing and my disks to work ! Why did they bother with Region Coding on Blu Ray at all ? It was a nonsense on DVD, and you’d have thought the studios would have learned. Apparently the only way I can play a Region A title from the US on my Region A Japan player is to buy a new US Blu Ray player and a voltage converter. So even the same Region disks are not interchangeable.
Instead I’m getting another refund, after more wasted time. I’m done with shiny discs that are so much hassle for genuine owners to play, slow to load when they do play, and expensive.
What a car crash of a format.
It’s not really the technology I’m moaning about. All technology is “interrim” after all. Optical disks will stick around. Good for archiving ( I believe the police use CD-Rs to archive crime-scene photos, because the storage medium is not modifiable ) and, as techies used to say, “never underestimate the bandwidth of a truck filled with Blu-Rays racing down the road”. Actually, they said that about magnetic tapes used for large-scale storage backup, but the point is the same : physical storage, if portable enough, is vastly quicker over distance in bulk transport than any network. For some professional uses, that matters. On a smaller scale, it ought to be useful for the home too.
One film, at 1080p, with no extras, occupies 10GB of disk. It streams fine, all 10GB of it, wirelessly over my home network to my TV. If these films were available for online streaming, I’d use that. But they are not. I’m not sure there are many ( any ? ) streaming film services offering 1080p yet. Firing out 10GB files across the internet to muliple users is a bit trickier than from server or Blu Ray player to my TV. So Blu Ray ought to be a convenient, resilient, portable way to obtain these films. Rather than the tedium I went through, not to mention the 250GB of disk used. The tech is fine, for our current needs. It’s the implementation that ruined it. The HDCP used throughout the Blu Ray playback chain, there to ensure you don’t make an unlicensed digital copy, but also slowing down the operation of the players, which load much slower than DVDs. The pointless region encoding, that doesn’t even seem to be consistent. The dismal ploy of releasing SD material upsampled to 1080p, no better than if you had an up sampling DVD player. Yes, Die Hard, Goodfellas, I’m looking at you.
It’s a format for studios to rub their pants about.
It’s horrible for consumers.
Postscript : I bought the set again. It still doesn’t play. So I bought a cheap Blu-Ray drive for my Mac and went to the considerable effort of ripping all 24 films to disk just so that I can watch them. Having done so, I settled down to watch Live and Let Die.
By god it’s awful.
A 1080p turkey. I used to think Octopussy was the worst Bond film ever ( Die Another Day being the second worst, obviously ) featuring Bond in bolero shirts and that “climactic” attack by wicker basket. But Live and Let Die is now a strong contender.