Friday, November 12, 2004
Give Up Red-Laser DVD's? From My Cold Dead Hands 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Now, I'm as excited as the next geek about new technology, but somehow I'm just not quite ready to buy into the next-generation "blue" DVD players yet.

I know...the picture quality is purported to be much better, the new "blue laser" discs hold more data and so forth, but frankly I've grown accustomed to waiting at least a decade between format changes.

Our first DVD player hasn't yet celebrated its 2nd birthday, and I'll be damned if I'm going to put it out to pasture just yet. I think it's a symptom of our growing malaise with aging and distrust of permanence; our disposability-oriented culture discards relationships, stereo equipment and used Kleenex™ with equal cheer.

After all, even audio CD's have been around for over 20 years now. I admit, I've amassed a large collection of .mp3 tracks - and I love the format - but only because I already owned the computer hardware to start downloading and using them. If one had to go out and purchase stand-alone, dedicated .mp3 players or audio systems, you can bet I'd still be eyeing my 1986 copy of Giorgio Moroder's From Here to Eternity...and Back* for laser rot.

The free stereo cobbled together sounds twice as sweet: my "home entertainment system" consists of a 1960's vintage Lafayette 50-watt stereo amp hooked up to two old wooden Realistic speakers I found a few years ago discarded in the alley. Yes, they are actually made of honest-to-goodness wood, not veneer on particleboard; and I spruce up the cabinets now and then with a dab of Scott's Liquid Gold. The setup actually sounds halfway decent, and it's choice for listening to my Esquivel albums, or Henry Mancini's Combo! Hubba hubba.

We haven't even purchased an HDTV system, a plasma monitor, or a TiVo yet - and we don't even have cable. Our "wireless" rabbit-ears telly only pulls in 3 over-the-air VHF stations. I call it the "Affirmative Action television" - the signal quality is so bad, I often can't determine the racial identity of folks I see onscreen. Not that it matters, but it goes a long way toward the goal of being "color blind" in the MLK sense. When we watch the local news on our set, the chroma shift is so severe that Mayor Daley sometimes looks like a giant talking bullfrog in a maroon suit.

In addition we receive about a dozen UHF Chicago stations below channel 28 whose programming leans toward the bizarre or foreign-language: not that the two are mutually exclusive concepts.

I say, let wealthy gadget junkies buy the first round of blue-DVD players. Go ahead, gloat at your prescience, your art's vanguard state - for tomorrow, you'll wish you waited for the price to drop, and I'll buy your lofty Blu-Ray castoffs [or whichever format ends up winning the market skirmish] for a pittance.

One word of warning to those "early adopters": Quadraphonics.

* The first CD I ever purchased.