Don't Be Disrespecting the DVD

As a rule, you won't find me wandering the aisles of big box electronics stores. Between my own custom install showroom, all of the trade shows I attend, and getting products to review for S&V, I get my fill of the latest, high-end gear and don't really feel the need to see walls o' video displays.

However, last night, I'd had a few beers at a local microbrewery - Gordon-Biersch, and their Marzen is perhaps my best-est beer ever - and my wife and I had been kicking around the idea of getting a Dyson vacuum cleaner, so we thought we'd hit the local Best Buy to take a look at the different models. (I know - I am insane for thinking about buying a $500 vacuum, but I'm strangely drawn to the Dyson guy. I just think things should work properly, too!)

On the way to the appliances section, I passed a demo that made me stop in my tracks. They had a 42-inch HDTV showing a split-screen with Blu-ray playing on one side and regular DVD on the other. All that was missing from the demo was a flashing, neon sign reading, "IF YOU CAN'T SEE HOW MUCH BETTER BLU-RAY LOOKS, THEN YOU'RE BLIND!"

First, I'm going to save anyone the trouble of calling me a Blu-ray hater. I have a PS3 and I am just as excited as the next guy when a new Blu-ray movie shows up from Netflix. With the right transfer, Blu-ray yields audio and video that are stunning. And when George decides to release Star Wars on Blu-ray, I'll buy it again . . . for the fifth time.

What I won't stand for is having DVD so publicly stabbed in the back and dragged through the mud. This "demo" was nothing short of an egregious misrepresentation of the little shiny disc we've all come to know and love. While the Blu-ray side was three-dimensional and practically glistening at its maximum bitrate, the DVD side of the demo was so bad, I thought my left eye had developed a cataract. Honestly, Blu-ray couldn't help but look better. I mean, VHS looked better! Video Podcasts blown up on my 60-inch TV look better. It was like they smeared Vasoline all over the lens, then took it out of focus a tad just for good measure. Faces were unrecognizable and backgrounds blurred together into this indistinct blah.

DVD's time might be drawing to a close, but it was a worthy format that served us well for many years. It brought Dolby Digital and DTS multi-channel surround and anamorphic video to the masses at a price little more than that of a CD. Blu-ray's day is here, but let's let DVD go gracefully off into the sunset. -John Sciacca

John Sciacca is The Custom Installer columnist for Sound & Vision. His company is Custom Theater and Audio.