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Experience on upgrading to Blu-Ray


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Note: This post is almost certainly going to be a long, drawn-out "Larry being a grump" thread. Frankly, y'all might want to just skip the thing, entirely. Ye Have Been Warned.

Background: I spend a lot of time in my room, simply sitting around "on standby" in case Mom calls. This gets really boring.

One of the things that contributes to this is that I can't use audio devices. If I turn the sound on on the TV, then for some reason Mom suddenly needs me to come into her room and do something for her every two minutes. Turn on a light. Turn it off. Help her roll over. Put the dog on the bed. She wants to tell me about the commercial that's on TV. She calls me into her room and then doesn't remember why she called. SOMETHING.

But, for example, I can watch TV. If the show is on DVD or some such (so that I can pause the thing whenever Mom calls, then resume it, later), and if it has English subtitles (so that I can watch it with the sound turned off.)

(Yes, I've tried headphones, and even when I only wear them over one ear, they still make it too hard for me to hear Mom if she calls.)

This method has worked for quite some time. But there were problems. There were movies I wanted to watch, where the DVD didn't have English subtitles.

And, they have to be subtitles, not closed caption. The TV in my room is an absolutely ancient, wood cabinet, monstrosity. You change channels by turning the knob. (UHF is a separate knob.) The TV won't even tune cable channels. (I change channels by using a VCR as a tuner.)

(And, I can't upgrade the TV because the **** is too heavy for me to move by myself.)

But, some of the movies I wanted to watch are available, with English subtitles, on Blu-Ray.

So, I decided to go get a Blu-Ray player. Yes, it's an ancient TV, but some day I'm going to upgrade the TV. And, I can buy movies on Blu-Ray now, and that way I won't find myself, down the road when I upgrade, with a hundred movies on DVD, contemplating the thought of going out and paying 15 bucks each to upgrade movies that I already have. I'll just buy them on Blu-Ray right now, and when I get a modern TV I'll already have the player and the titles.

So, I go out and buy a Blu-Ray player. I pick a Sony because my DVD player is a Sony, I like the way it works, I'm used to it, and I trust the Sony name. And I buy some movies on Blu-Ray that were on my "I want to watch these movies, but the DVD doesn't have subtitles" list. Specifically, The Bourne Identity, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Now, here's my comparison of how things work with my brand new Blu-Ray player, and Blu-Ray versions of discs I already own.

My old DVD player, I'd push the "open" button (even though the unit was "powered off", and it would power on and open the drawer. I'd put the disc in, press the "play" button (with the drawer still open), and it would close the drawer, spin the disc, and start playing.

The new player does almost the same thing, except that, when it powers on, it throws a menu up on the TV, asking me if I want to connect to the internet and play internet streaming video, or do I want to plug in a camera to the USB port, and play the images on the camera. When I insert a disc in the player, all it does is add the option of playing the disc to the menu. I still have to tell it that the reason I inserted this disc is because I want to play it, and then it will spin the disc, and read the disc.

Now at this point, I'm playing my new Pirates disc.

It gives me the Disney logo.

It gives me the blu-ray logo.

Then it begins a commercial, made by Disney, that tells me all about how great blu-ray is and how much better it is than DVD and how Disney is coming out with all kinds of new titles on blu-ray, like Pirates of the Caribbean.

During this commercial, the "menu" button is disabled. So is the fast forward button. However, after trying buttons on the remote at random, I discover that the "next chapter" button will permit me to skip over this part, and go to the next chapter.

Now available on blu-ray: Invincable. Menu button still disabled. Fast forward still disabled. But, the "next chapter" button still works, so I can skip it, and go to the next chapter.

Trailer for The Guardian. Next chapter.

Trailer for The Pledge. Next chapter.

Trailer for Pirates 3. Next chapter.

A commercial comparing copyright infringement to dealing drugs. Next chapter.

At last, we reach the menu. A talking, animated, pirate skull talks to me (I don't know what he's saying, cause the sound's turned off) for about 30 seconds, and then it gives me a menu with two choices:

  • "Play Movie". (What? Did you buy the disc Pirates of the Caribbean, put the disc Pirates of the Caribbean in your disc player, press the button labeled "play", and then use your remote to tell the player that yes, you wanted to play the Pirates of the Caribbean disc you just inserted, because you wanted to watch Pirates of the Caribbean?)
  • "Main Menu". (After all, wouldn't want to actually put the menu on the menu page. Nope, the menu page should have a link to the menu.)

At last, now I'm playing the movie. (Well, first it has to tell me that I'm watching a Disney blu-ray. Then that I'm watching a blu-ray. Then it will tell me that I'm watching a Disney movie, and then it will start the movie.) I can watch the movie that I want to watch, with the subtitles that my DVD of the movie didn't have.

Now, because I'm watching the movie on an ancient TV, the movie appears in letterboxed format. Black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

The subtitles do not appear in clear, clean, white letters. They're in a golden color, in a rather small font. And it doesn't put the subtitles in the black bars on the screen, it puts them over the video of the movie. Result, the subtitles are often hard to read, because they blend with the background.

But, whenever I find one that's hard to read, I can back up the movie, and pause it, so I can pick out the subtitles from the background.

Now, as I mentioned, one reason why I have to watch things on disc is because I'm on call. Whenever something happens, where Mom (or the dogs) call me (yes, Mom has spent 10 years teaching the dogs that whenever they want anything, just whine, and Larry will get it for them), then I have to pause the disc and go Do What Needs To Be Done.

My new blu-ray player, like the DVD before it, has a screen saver, to prevent paused images from becoming burned into my TV screen. (A feature that's pretty much useless with modern TVs, but is actually needed on my ancient one.) So, after being paused for 30 seconds or so, the screen saver kicks in. No problem, I'm used to it.

After being paused for about 5 minutes, the unit powers itself off.

With my DVD player, this wouldn't have been a problem. It had a feature where, if you stopped, or even ejected, a disc, it would remember where you were on the disc when you stopped. When you put the disc back in, or powered the unit back up, or whatever, it would resume playing from the place where you stopped. (The feature didn't work after a power failure, but that was all. I could even stop a disc, watch a different disc, then put the first one back in, and it would pick up from the last spot.

Apparently, Sony decided I didn't need that feature in my new blu-ray player. If Mom needs, say, to go to the bathroom, then when I complete helping her, I have to start over.

Have I mentioned that when the disc starts, it starts with a series of commercials, with the menu button intentionally disabled?

So I have to once again tell the player that I want to play the disc. Then I have to make my way past eight commercials, then the talking skull, and then I'll make it to the menu where the two choices are "Play Movie" or "Main Menu". The menu defaults to "Play Movie".

So, I change the selection to "Main Menu", and select it.

Now the talking skull talks to me for about 45 seconds. And then it gives me the second menu, which is apparently called the main menu.

The second menu's first option, and the one that it assumes I want, is "Play Movie". The same choice that I had to deliberately un-select, to get here. I have to manually move the focus off of that option to get to "scene selection".

It shows me what the first four scenes are. If I want a scene after the first four, then I have to go up, then over, to the button labeled "5-8", and then press enter before it will show me what choices 5-8 are. But still, after selecting a few options, then I can get to a place in the movie that's within 10 minutes or so of the place where I was when I pushed "pause".

Every time I stop watching the movie for more than 5 minutes, I have to go through this, again.

Boy, I sure am glad I upgraded.

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I sympathize with your complaint Larry.

FYI, apparently a lot of people don't see the point (or feel incremental value is worthwhile) in upgrading to Blu-Ray:

Despite Price Cuts, Blu-ray Sales Are Dwindling

Home entertainment studios seem to have gotten over the whole "let's try and charge $30 for all new Blu-ray movies" thing, with prices generally closer to the $20 range. But general price cuts still haven't sparked the Blu-ray bonanza Hollywood was hoping for.

Deadline relays a report from the NPD Group that says 116 million adults bought DVDs or Blu-ray discs in a six-month period ending in March, down nearly 10 percent from the same period a year ago. The NPD calls the disc market "disappointing" and muses "Blu-ray may not be the replacement for DVD that many once hoped for."

To me, Blu-ray buyers seem to be a niche market of collectors rather than casual movie fans, since so many high-definition movies are available on streaming services.

If you buy Blu-rays, what spurs you to make a purchase rather than wait for the movie to pop up on Netflix?

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An ancient, wood cabinet monstrosity makes a great stand for a sleek, HD flat screen. Forget about humping the old one out the door. Just buy a new one and drop it right on top. :)

(I'm aware that the Blu-Ray player is what you have issues with but you wouldn't feel so bad about the BRP if you were seeing it with the benefits of the HD flat.)

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If you buy Blu-rays, what spurs you to make a purchase rather than wait for the movie to pop up on Netflix?

If there's a movie I really like, I'll rather own it. Plus, I like having a video library.

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We get over the price objection via Netflix which has a a lot of Blu ray. It is bizarre though how some recordings refuse to let you just watch the damn movie, and insist on showing the trailers/ Although fast forwarding through them at 100x helps.

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Seriously, get a ps3, it's made by sony too. If you put a disc into the ps3, it auto runs the disc, no having to select play (you can change this feature in the settings as well.) You won't have any of the problems you have listed either. And I know you are an avid gamer so you can play games on it too, lol.

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The subtitle issue isn't a BluRay thing, it is whoever does their captioning thing.

I agree though, BluRay isn't worth it. Streaming options in HD, streaming in general, and all the hundreds of dollars spent in my DVD collection are not easily replaced, nor is there anything warranting their replacement.

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Just to jump on the PS3 bandwagon a bit, I would imagine that an immersive movie-styled console game could keep you happy for many many hours, even if it was on mute. I'd have to go check, but I seem to recall that most PS3 games I've played have subtitle options. That wouldn't necessarily help you hear which window the bad alien shot you from, but at least you could follow the plot of the game easily.

And if you had a PS3, it would be much better (though perhaps not perfect) about the incredibly annoying promos, etc. when you resumed watching a Blu-ray movie.

Not sure what your broadband setup or options are, but Netflix streaming would mean you'd always have a very large real-time library of movies to watch. And without most of the the disc-based hassles.

Somewhere north of 30-40% of Netflix streaming content has subtitles. Last I read, the goal was 80% at year's end.

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I own a Blu-Ray player, and I do think there is a huge difference in quality with Blu-Ray over DVD. With that said, I own probably 500 DVD's, and less than 20 Blu-Rays. I have no intention of building a blu-ray collection, like I did with DVD. The difference is I won't pay for a 30 dollar Blu-Ray if it's a movie I haven't seen yet. Many people back in the day would just buy the DVD not knowing if the movie was going to be good or not. Most of the time, I will watch a movie on PPV in HD, and that is good enough. Unless it's a classic I grew up with, (Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, etc.)or it's a movie I'm going to want to see multiple times, (Comedies like The Big Lebowski, Airplane, etc) there is just no point in buying it. Not worth the price.

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