Opinion: Can Blu movies make HD exciting?

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Jon_small_new.jpgJonathan Weinberg writes…

IS anyone else bored to tears with the whole Blu-ray v HD-DVD debate. I know I am.

Rival film studios and techno firms are falling over themselves to tell us how great their particular new format is, in a desperate bid to cajole us into spending thousands of pounds replacing perfectly good hardware and our massive DVD collections.

I totally agree movies look better in the new digital prints, but then there’s the whole 1080i and 1080p full high-definition shenanigans to put up with. In TV terms, it’s a real turn-off.

The only thing that gets me remotely interested is the PORN part of the debate – but more on that below including a great little YouTube video!

But, it seems people are buying into the format war. The European launch of the PlayStation 3 obviously gave Blu-ray a shot in the arm with Sony announcing 180,000 of their own movie DVDs have been sold in Europe. In fact, that’s a ONE THOUSAND per cent increase since the PS3 arrived.

And with Blockbuster now only renting Blu-ray discs in their US stores, it’s clear that a front-runner has started to emerge. Blu-ray software accounts for 67% of the total high-definition market so it’s not surprising Toshiba had to slash the price of its entry level HD-E1 player and it can now be found for as cheap as £220.

New figures from analysts Understanding & Solutions show for the first six months of 2007 in the UK, 405,000 Blu-ray machines have been sold, including PS3s. They reckon that will top 1.15million for the whole year.

Contrast that to HD-DVD and the firm think standalone players and Xbox 360 add-on drives only account for 25,000 units from January to June and estimate just 100,000 will be shifted in the full 12 months.

And then there’s LG, bravely trying to walk the thin Blu/HD line with a machine that can play both. I’m still not excited though. In fact, there’s only one bit of the debate that really gets me interested – and that’s the porn factor.

Back in Las Vegas in January, while hundreds of journos were milling around CES, a couple of clever chaps I know popped next door into the ‘adult entertainment’ show. Amidst the sex toys and naughty movies, these “investigative” hacks spend an hour or so browsing the stands chatting to the stars and finding out their high-definition preferences.

You can see the video above and surprisingly, they knew quite a bit about it with many of them giving it the big thumbs down in case it showed them up on screen warts and all. But, the straw poll did have a clear winner – and that was Blu-ray.

They didn’t know why they preferred it – and I’m pretty sure most of the UK still doesn’t know what either of the two terms actually mean or do.

Still, with real Blu movies on the cards, maybe there is reason to get a little excited about what’s to come after all.

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Jonathan Weinberg