Quite recently I purchased a brilliant 51″ plasma TV and a Blu-ray player. I had some trepidation prior to the purchase about whether or not I wanted to deal with physical media again (been there; done that). Physical media overload is what eventually led me a few years ago to put an end to CD and DVD procurement. The solution I landed on to go to iTunes Match subscription co. I have a finite amount of space in my apartment, and one of the things I learned the last time I moved, was how much space boxes upon boxes of physical media take up. I wanted to simplify my life. This has and continues to serve me well.
So why go Blu-ray? Well, I haven’t stopped renting movies and TV shows from iTunes — nor have I cancelled my Netflix account. As someone who loves movies, I also demand the absolute best picture quality possible. I knew already that Blu-ray continues to offer vastly superior picture quality over any of the compressed HD streams delivered by iTunes or even Netflix. By buying Blu-ray movies, I seem to be setting myself up for failure by taking up precious shelf space that I may want to use for something else. This is all very true, however, the indisputable fact remains that Blu-ray picture quality still holds the crown. I’ve done comparisons between what Netflix calls “SuperHD” and the 1080p uncompressed video on a 50GB Blu-ray. Whilst SuperHD is quite good, in fact, good enough for most, the level of detail that comes through on Blu-ray is unparalleled.
I have set some rules for myself so that I can keep my physical media space issue in check. I have made a pact that I will only collect movies that I deem special. Movies that I want to watch over and over again in the most pristine quality available. For TV shows and other movies I’m not entirely confident about, I’m happy to binge watch those on Netflix. This segues into an underlying issue that I have with the iTunes pricing model.
Renting and buying TV shows and movies from iTunes is incredibly convenient. The notion that I can pick up my remote and within a click or two, start watching what I want, all in very acceptable definition, is incredible. Where things go wrong for me is the underlying flawed TV show and movie pricing scheme. For the most part, if you want to buy your favourite TV show or movie, the pricing remains unusually high. For example, I can buy The Dark Knight Rises right now from iTunes at $14.99. That’s not bad for something I can watch on any iOS device or Apple TV. This is a poor price comparatively speaking to Blu-ray though, where I can get the entire trilogy for $29.99. On iTunes, many movies can be found in the $14.99-$24.99 price range, when their Blu-ray counterparts can be found for significantly less.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve started completing my collection of remastered Connery era Bonds films — remastered by Lowry Digital. Lowry Digital has done a spectacular job with restoring these films, such as Dr. No, which I just watched last night. The level of detail and quality is just spectacular. Seeing as I picked up Dr. No from my local Best Buy for $6.99, why on Earth would I buy this from iTunes at its current price of $14.99? With the negotiating prowess that Apple has, I’d like to remain optimistic that they will be able to more aggressively work out better deals with content companies. Until the day comes that I can buy an old movie for the same price as a Blu-ray, my finger will remain off the buy button.