Thursday, January 10, 2008

I like the phrase "I'm a lover and not a fighter." It sets up the dichotomy between lovers and fighters, stating that a person can be either one or the other, but not both.

Since I have never thrown a punch, slapped, eye-gouged, kicked, stabbed, or shot another human being, I am officially not a fighter. Therefore, I must be a lover. This will be big news to my wife, but the facts don't lie. Me = Lover. Me!

A couple of weeks ago though, I took a stand in a fight.

As everyone knows, there's a war going on. I've been asking a lot of people what they think about the war, and what side they're on. Every single person I asked gave me the same answer. "Mike," they'd reply , "Stay the hell away from this battle. You want no part of this."

I am speaking, of course, of the battle between the two competing standards for high definition DVDs: Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD. It's the new millenium's version of Beta vs VHS. Sony, who failed to learn their lesson from their in-vain plugging of Beta, is the leader of the Blu-Ray group. Toshiba, meanwhile, is the driving force behind HD-DVD.

What's the technical difference between these formats? Who cares. They both look good. DVD makers should have been salivating over the opportunity to sell us a new and more expensive format instead of warring over differences that are incomprehensible to Joe Consumer. Meanwhile, one or two studios had lined up in the Blu-Ray camp, and an equal number had signed up for HD-DVD. It was a dead heat.

So, if, hypothetically speaking, you have just purchased a fancy new high definition TV, and were eager to view high definition DVDs, which way would you go? Would you go with Blu-Ray and support yet-another Sony effort to cram proprietary formats down our throats (Memory Sticks, anyone?) or would you pick the other side, supported by distasteful companies like Microsoft?

The smart money said to do nothing. Let the other idiots, willing to plunk down hundreds of dollars on machines that may be obsolete in a few months, decide the victor of this meaningless battle. You go, Joe Early Adopter! Smart people should stay out of the way, instead buying cheap "upconverting" DVD players that make ordinary DVDs look slightly better on high def TVs. That was my plan. Me = smart. Me!

Hank and I strolled into my favorite TV store a couple weeks ago, ready to buy one of these $99 upconverting babies. Smart! We met with the same salesman who had given us excellent advice a couple months earlier on our TV purchase. He had earned our trust previously by discouraging us from buying speakers from his store and encouraging us to buy the cheapest HDMI cables, instead of gouging us on two traditional retail money-making fronts.

So, when he suggested that we skip over the $99 upconverting DVD player and instead, buy the on-sale $270 Toshiba HD-DVD player, we listened carefully. He explained that even if HD-DVD somehow lost the format war, we'd still have a decent DVD player, capable of upconverting all our old DVDs. By spending that additional $171 dollars, we'd be taking a position in the Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD battle, but not an expensive one.

So, we bit. We picked the HD-DVD side, and allied ourselves with the Toshibans. Given all of Sony's mis-steps in the market in the last few years, this felt like a solid choice. We didn't really want to ignore the high-def capabilities of our TV while this format war waged. Who know how long it would go on!

As it turns out, that question is answered now. The war ended a handful of days after we bought our DVD player. Studios are now flocking to Blu-Ray. The winner? Sony. The loser? Me.

I should have stuck to being a lover.


Avery Gray said...

You might fool some of the people with your fancy technical talk, but I know the real reason you went with HD-DVD. How else are you going to watch your good old American porn? Blu-Ray is fine if you're into the crazy Japanese stuff, but it could be a long time before the domestic stuff is given the green light.

Or is it the red light?

Anyhow, you being a lover and all, I knew that would be an important consideration. Me, I plan on throwing my money at the issue and seeing what sticks. Either way I'm a winner!

Lola said...

I'm no expert, I'm an ex-techie but still a techno-listener from the UK (Cranky Geeks, Diggnation, TWIT...) I don't think the war is over yet. You haven't lost, you're still a footsoldier in the regiment of HD-DVD.

But what do I know? I don't even subscribe to cable or satellite; at home we have four channel choices on the TV - yes, FOUR! The analogue reception isn't good enough for terrestrial Channel 5!

I listen to the radio. Who needs pictures?

Mike said...

Avery, you might even be a winner outside of the parameters of the DVD high-definition format war. As for porn, however, I gotta believe that it'll be available on every platform. I, for one, still enjoy my 8-track pornos.

Lola, the only HD DVD that I've bought so far is from the BBC (I think BBC 2). It's the Planet Earth series narrated by David Attenborough. Stunning!

Avery Gray said...

Ah, so you go for the natural look? Interesting.

Mike said...

The natural look? Meaning that I don't shave my legs or armpits? I suppose that's true.

missburrows said...

Hmmm..I always though the phrase was:

I'm a lover, not a biter.

What's with the crazy sexual tension between you and Avery? Oh, right. Boobs.

Mike said...

Miss B, so this is sexual tension? It's joking about which video standard format I'll watch porn on? If this is what passes for sexual tension in my life, I'm aghast at what's going to pass for sex.

missburrows said...

Watching porn isn't the same as having sex?

Oh, you just burst a lot of teenage boy's bubbles.

Mike said...

I suspect that even bubble bursting is titillating for teenage boys. Or at least that was the case for me as a teenager.

Avery Gray said...

Um, yeah.

I posted something for you.

Mike said...

Avery, although I welcome each and every one of your comments on my blog, you don't really have to tell me when you post something on your blog of interest to me. I READ YOUR BLOG!

loveyh said...

Oh, great guru of the technological era, what is your opinion--was I wise in paying for Vista on my laptop, or is Steve Jobs going to laugh at me and egg my house for being a sheeple?

'Cause now that Dell (which is now allowing a downgrade 3 WEEKS after my machine was built) has my money, pepps are complaining about Vista, whereas I think it's decent.

Mike said...

Hi Lovey. I've never used Vista, so I'm not much of an expert on it, but I'd say that if its working for you so far, then don't touch it. Upgrading and downgrading is the riskiest thing you can do with an operating system.

Installing Service Packs is probably a good idea though, although I'd wait at least a month after each one comes out to install it.

Avery Gray said...

Sorry. I will refrain from posting informational comments regarding the contents of my blog. My bad.

Mike said...

Avery, please note that my ALL CAPS sentence was supposed to come across as reassuring (that I read your blog) rather than angry.

Can you tell that I have communication issues?

Avery Gray said...

No, I got that. And I was reassuring you that I understood, and would refrain from doing that which you deemed superfluous.

Gah. Sometimes you're such a woman.


missburrows said...

Whew, it's getting hot in here again.

Mike said...

Avery, bite me.

Miss B, now THAT'S hot.

Avery Gray said...

Mmmkay. Two questions. Where and how hard?

You think I won't?

(Alright. Technically three questions.)

Mike said...

Hey! No biting! Bad! Don't make me get that rolled up newspaper!

Avery Gray said...

I think I've just been insulted.

Mike said...

Sheesh. Man up.