What Did You Blu, Ray?

I’m fairly certain “Batman and Robin” was never actually unleashed on the public in 1080p super-crisp-bat-nipple-ocular-assault format, but the possibility alone is enough to make me wear a welder’s mask at all times. If you are foolish enough to watch “BatNips” please do so through an appropriate Rifftrax filter.

I honestly thought I would never have to comment on the HD format war again, but in an unprecedented and uncharacteristic display of non-douche behavior, Warner Brothers is letting you trade your Warner HD-DVD’s for their BluRay equivalent. You do have to pay $5 + shipping and send in the paper insert from each disc, but you get to keep your HD-DVD’s. I think it’s WB’s way of saying “we don’t want that busted shit in your house.”

Warner Bros. is obviously admitting a mistake here. They are apologizing for their unfortunate part in a partisan war that was designed from the ground up to divide the geek population and cause heavy casualties. Given this new found conscience, I would like to formally ask Warners to provide reparations for anyone that purchased any of the following WB items:

  • Metallica’s “St. Anger”
  • Paris Hilton’s Album (I refuse to look up the title, but let’s just assume it’s called “MoneyTitsVagFlash”)
  • Dawson’s Creek on DVD (Why did Joey have to end up with Pasey!? Why didn’t Dawson show her how much she meant to him when he had the chance?!)
  • One Tree Hill on DVD (Why did Chad Michael Murray have to leave Dawson’s Creek!? Why!?)
  • “Comedy” albums by any of the “Blue Collar” dudes… actually, no. I take that back. If you bought these you deserve no mercy. Wallow in the anguish you have created for yourself. Despair for all eternity in loneliness and shame.

If you have a stack of dusty maroon boxes and want to get nice new shiny blu ones, check out red2blu.com for instructions. I wonder if the other studios like Universal will jump on board with this concept. I wonder if now might be a good time to go pick up a bunch of WB HD-DVD’s for $10 in bargain bins and start trading them in. The whole Harry Potter series? Anyone? I’m just sayin’.

You thought you had seen the last of Auto-Tracking!

Afterward they develop brain parasites that just tell you the basic plot of a movie in a conversational manner.
Not to beat a dead digital video format horse, but this beating stick has a few more whacks left in it (and its got a nice weight… feels really good in your hand.. ya know?). Yesterday, Netflix announced a $100 set top box that (with at least a $9 monthly plan) will let you stream 10,000 movies and TV shows. I know other services exist with this same technology, but not at a $100 price point, Netflix’s catalog and Netflix’s installed user base. You see, if you are already a Netflix subscriber you are already paying for this service. You just need the box. That’s fuck-tastic. I’m going to eBay most of my DVD’s (the one’s I don’t care about at least) and get one of these.

I might have told this story before, but in 2001 or so my friend Farris G. said, “why can’t we just subscribe to a service that has every episode of every TV show ever on demand? You wouldn’t need cable or satellite of DVD’s or anything.” Now, he was making this argument almost solely based on a desire to watch “Quantum Leap” reruns at a moment’s notice, but his point was valid. 7 years later we are extremely close to that ideal.

As I get older and life gets busier and more complicated, I care less and less about owning a physical representation of my audio and video media. I find DVD’s expensive and cumbersome (how’s that for jaded?). I’m sick or storing them and sick of paying $20 for them when I typically watch them 0-1 times over their life span. I don’t care about special features or commentaries any more. I am a perfect fit for a service like this.

I think we all realize that Blu-Ray is a stop gap to all-digital distribution. I predict it will have the shortest overall lifespan of any major format before it. The Netflix service isn’t HD yet, but it will be. And the box they are selling today will be firmware upgraded to accept HD content.

Give me a box that can stream any movie or TV show, and a wireless internet iPod that can access any song instantly and I will most likely stop trying to “own” my files. Sure, I’ll but the LOTR trilogy in the highest definition possible, and certain albums I might want in lossless format, or buy just to support the artist, but for the most part I just want to be able to call up an episode of “Arrested Development” from any TV in the house without having to go the store or fumble with a disc.

Speaking of, I’ve been doing just that on Hulu lately as I draw and it’s pretty fantastic. I also watched “Dave Chapelle’s Block Party” this morning… instantly, and for free. I highly recommend both the service and the Chapelle. The movie was very fun and uplifting. He’s just a normal guy living an extraordinary life.


Several mostly positive reviews of the ROKU Netflix box.

Call it a going away present

Back up in your ass with the resurrection.

Back when things really started to look bleak for Toshiba and HD-DVD I said I had always been rooting for them, but I really didn’t care who won as long as there was a clear winner and we could stop all this foolishness. Well, finally the troops are pulling out and coming home. The war is officially over.

I’m still not ready to buy a Blu-Ray player. Let’s pretend this format war never happened and consider this to be the day High Definition optical media is first released. Essentially it is, because the war stifled the format adoption, market growth, title availability, etc for the last 2 years. We would probably be looking at sub $300 Blu-Ray players and $15-17 Discs by now if not for the unforgivable stupidity of the movie and technology industries. Instead we are looking at the PS3 being the only Blu-Ray player worth buying (t’s firmware upgradable and has the online connectivity that most other current players do not offer) and $25-30 for new titles at big box retailers.

The price drops we saw from the HD-DVD camp around November and December of 2007 were false so they don’t count. By that I mean they were slashing retail prices for players WAY below the cost to produce them in the hopes early adopters would flock in and secure their position as the de facto HiDef disc. Instead of a viable consumer install base they now have about a half a million angry Wal-Mart customers that want to beat them to death with their shiny, obsolete “Ayche-Dee-DeeBeeDee” boxes.

Josh said, “I don’t care! I want to watch beautiful moving pictures on my new giant HD-TV!” and bought a decent sized library of HD-DVD’s. He contends that the are still playable, no matter who won. I contend that his choice was bad and he should feel bad. Those of you in the same predicament may want to consider converting your HD-DVD collection to Blu-Ray. All you need is a bunch of money, nearly unlimited time, and a master’s degree in computer science. You could also just pretend it was a fancy DVD player and play like it never happened.

I can’t think too hard about the contestants and the outcome, because Blu-Ray winning makes no fucking sense. HD-DVD was cheaper to produce, cheaper to buy, higher capacity (at first), region free, more interactive right out of the gate, and posessed the foresight to give their product a LOGICAL name people could understand. If we are looking for a replacement for sandwiches and the contenders are “Sandwich-2” and “Purple Explosion Ninja” I am certainly going to be curious about the PEN format but I’m also not going to immediately recognize it as something tasty and nutritious for my lunch time enjoyment.

The thing that really bugs the shit out of me is the fact that Sony actually won a format war. God damnit.

The lost Toshiba press conference

The match can be explained, but why did he have a gallon of gasoline behind the podium?

With Warner Bros. planting their flag firmly twixt Sony’s Blu-Ray buttocks, only Paramount and Universal remain married to HD DVD. I was pulling for the maroon boxes (though I refuse to commit to one or the other) because they are cheaper to produce, cheaper to buy, the players themselves are cheaper, and the tech is (sort of) better if only for the fact that the spec is finalized and the features work on every player currently being sold. If that makes no sense to you, you probably aren’t aware that the Blu-Ray spec IS NOT finalized and most of the players on the market right now will not be able to take advantage of the features on Blu-Ray discs coming out, say, tomorrow. The PS3 is the only acception, since it’s such a hoss of a machine they can continue to upgrade its features through software as Blu-Ray evolves.

CES happened this weekend, and Toshiba was going to have an HD DVD “State of the Format” press conference… until they heard about WB ditching them for blu-er pastures (I guess this means I’m rebuying all of Dawson’s Creek on Blu-Ray now). The Tosh packed up their embroidered swag bags and said, “I’m taking my maligned high definition format and GOING HOME! NYEAH!” The ONLY right thing for the HD DVD Consortium to do right now is gracefully admit defeat. Not because they are definitely going to lose (though the outlook isn’t good) but because they now have the power to end the format war and reunify the fractured consumer masses.

Josh and I were in Best Buy this weekend looking through the various next gen discs. Battlestar was on HD, as was Bladerunner. This is good news because Josh has the HD DVD Xbox add on. But LOST was in a translucent blue box. Well, god damnit, we want High Def Jack and Kate and such too! We’re not going to drop $400 for a PS3 just so we can support both competing formats (Eli did exactly that). No one cares about the studios behind the movies and shows we love. We WANT to give you Hollywood douche-tards our delicious monies. Why are you making it so hard.