The other day I bought a new Sony BDP-S5100 Blu-ray player to replace the old LG player that was having a lot of trouble playing Blu-ray discs. Strangely, two of my friends separately asked me the same thing, “Why did you do that, isn’t Blu-ray dead?” Then my friend Mike wondered if it was possible to give up his Netflix disc account to just live with Netflix streaming. My wife has already given up her disc account, and so have many of my friends.
I’ve wondered about cancelling my Netflix disc subscription, but there are still plenty of movies, television shows and documentaries that aren’t available on streaming. In fact, I recently joined ClassicFlix to get old movies Netflix doesn’t offer on disc or streaming. And often I recommend films and TV shows to friends and they often report back they aren’t on streaming, like Project Nim.
Yet, I’ve got to wonder if the writing is on the wall, and if the disc isn’t under Hospice care. I hardly ever play my CDs anymore, preferring to stream music. And my DVD/BD collection sits ignored in a dark closet because I stream or rent. Since the quality of streaming is constantly improving, I feel less and less need to buy Blu-ray discs. I dropped my Blu-ray option on Netflix because the LG players was giving me so much trouble, but at ClassicFlix, Blu-ray discs are not extra, so I started getting them again. They are wonderful, but some some HD streamed movies are nearly as good. Movies like The Big Trail and The Apartment were just stunning in Blu-ray, so I want that quality if I can get it.
If I dropped Netflix discs and ClassicFlix discs, a whole world of video would be cut off from me. I have added Warner Instant Archive streaming, which is like Turner Classic Movies. I also get Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime. I have years of streaming content waiting to be watched, and by the time I finished them all, years more of viewing would be added, maybe even the stuff I now get on discs. If I was patient, everything will eventually come to streaming.
And then there’s the question: Won’t canceling disc rentals and not buying discs speed up the move to everything being streamed? Isn’t it a kind of protest against discs and a vote for streaming if people shun discs?
Blu-ray isn’t quite dead because if you want the best possible picture, Blu-ray is it, but streaming technology is nipping on its heels. Netflix is even working on 4k streaming. I probably shouldn’t have bought that Sony BDP-S5100 player, but hell, it was a good deal at $79. It’s a marvel of technology, and about 1/3rd, or even 1/4th the size of the BD player. Plus it plays BD discs MUCH faster, and it plays the discs the BG player wouldn’t. And it also plays CDs and SACDs, and it has Gracenote built in, making CD playing more visual. There’s even more, it has a host of smart TV features with many channels that I don’t even plan to use, because I own a Roku 3, but if I didn’t they would be very cool.
Yeah, I think, the writing is on the wall. This will probably be my last disc player.
Back in the 1960s I often wondered what life would be like in the 21st century. I never imagined living without LPs, or even conceived of the CD or DVD. Yet, many science fiction books and movies imagined a future where we’d be less materialistic. I guess that’s coming true.
JWH – 1/28/14