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.