What do you do when you are faced with spending a lot of money to enjoy a gift you have received? You either return the gift or you Google to find a solution. I chose the second option.
To make the long story short, I recently received a DVD of the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight from a friend. My initial exclamations of excitement gave way to groans as I opened the gift and discovered a Blu-ray disc, which my DVD player is incapable of playing.
I Googled to find out the price of a Blu-ray player and it was enough to paint my monthly budget red. I was surprised to see the number – about 10.7 million Blu-ray players were sold in the US alone by 2008-end. In fact, The Dark Knight sold more than a million discs in Blu-ray format.
I wondered how the new technology had managed to catch everyone's imagination since it was expensive to switch from DVD to Blu-ray format.
I dug deeper and found Blu-ray discs come with more bells and whistles compared to DVDs. They not only offer better image and sound quality, their capacity to store 50GB of information on a single disc make them a tremendous improvement over DVDs – a product that was hailed till recently as one of the greatest successes in the consumer electronics industry.
But what is the guarantee that Blu-ray discs won't go the DVD way right after I throw caution to the wind and buy myself a fancy high-definition player? My tech friends tell me that we won't have to make room for obsolete Blu-ray players in our attics just yet because it is in Sony's interest to market this technology, especially after the company's long format battle with Toshiba's HD DVD.
Blu-ray technology's biggest advantage is Sony's marketing muscle. At this point no one else has the power or the money to market a rival disc format even if they came up with better technology, say experts.
That's good news for consumers because it makes sense to splurge on electronic equipment or gadgets only if it can be used for a considerable period of time. Blu-ray players don't come cheap and high-definition discs are also priced on the higher side compared to DVDs.
For my meagre budget's sake, I hope Sony laughs all the way to the bank.
- Mily Chakrabarty is Online Deputy Editor