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App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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March 5, 2008 10:07 AM

Don't Buy Blu-Ray! Blu-Ray Is The Future

There's been a lot of buzz in recent weeks about HD-DVD shutting it down and Blu-ray coming out on top as the choice for next generation optical disc formats.

To bring everyone up to speed, HD-DVD and Blu-ray use blue lasers instead of the red of DVD players to store HD video and additional features on discs with the same form factor as DVDs and CDs. Like Betamax v. VHS thirty years ago, the two formats were locked in a high stakes battle over who would become the preeminent choice for movie distribution. But within the last month most major studios came on board with Blu-ray, which led HD-DVD's biggest pusher, Toshiba, to announce they're done making more players.

So my condolences go out to anyone who's already invested in an HD-DVD player. If I were you, I'd either go hoard as many HD-DVD titles as you can, or get ready to have a very expensive doorstop.

Now that this latest edition of the formats wars has found its end, it should be time for you to run out and buy a Blu-ray player so you can get in on enjoying the flagship of the HD revolution.

But it's NOT! In fact, DON"T BUY BLU-RAY!!!

Why? For one simple reason: the real future for Blu-ray isn't in HD video, it's in enabling networked experiences in your living room, but there aren't any Blu-ray players that are currently capable of connecting to the Internet.

To give you a sense for what I mean by "networked experiences" here's a quick rundown of what this will ultimately mean:

- Being able to download additional language tracks
- Having movie trailers that automatically refresh over time so they're always current
- Accessing ecommerce sites through the disc where you can buy movie merchandise
- Playing interactive games with scoreboards that track all users
- Contributing to social networks and discussion forums built up around movies

And the list can go on and on. Quite simply: everything you do on the Internet today may eventually make it into a networked experience through a Blu-ray disc in your living room.

But the problem is in the second half of my warning: there aren't any players that will let you have these networked experiences.

Now you might be fooled into believing there are players as the studios have begun to release the first discs with networked experiences, but you'd be wrong.

If you're going to buy a Blu-ray player today the best option is Sony's gaming console, the PS3. It has a Blu-ray player built-in, it's cheaper than most standalone Blu-ray players, and this summer it's going to gain the ability to deliver networked experiences this summer.

Otherwise, the first networked Blu-ray players aren't coming out until the fall.

Even worse, if you've already bought a Blu-ray player, you're likely going to have to buy another one if you want to have these networked experiences.

But all this being said, I do believe that the future of networked Blu-ray experiences is enormous.

There's a lot of talk about moving to a world without discs, where everything's delivered over the network. But the reality is that only a small percentage of broadband connections are fast enough to transfer HD video in a reasonably short period of time. Who wants to wait 10 hours to download a 2 hour movie?

What Blu-ray allows for is to deliver the HD video on-disc but then connect that content with all the possibilities found in being networked to the Internet.

I'm not 100% sure optical media has a great long-term future as (hopefully) we'll one day live in a world where every home is hooked up to high capacity fiber.

But in the near term I think we're in for some wonderful treats over the next few years in terms of studios opening up new experiences that leverage network connectivity to expand the enjoyment we can have with a movie on a disc.

So definitely do get excited about Blu-ray and its potential as another application that uses broadband, but don't jump on board the bandwagon too soon and end up with yet another all-too-expensive doorstop.


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