Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More on Blu-Ray

Kris made a couple of good points in a comment on "Two things I didn't know about Blu-Ray".

First, if the content is songs recorded in the '60s, it doesn't matter how many bits your medium can hold. Those old analog tapes are still going to sound the same, and if you're a fan you probably already have them anyway.

Now in Neil's case, that's not what he's selling. He's selling new material (to us, not him) in a snazzy presentation that will allow you to do things like ponder lyrics and photographs while listening to the digitally scrubbed tape hiss on Mr. Soul or whatever. That's not enough for me personally to take the plunge, but for some folks it will be.

The second and more fundamental point is that, assuming the DRM stuff works, a blu-ray disc, even a "live" one, is a closed medium. You can only play it on a blu-ray player, not on your car stereo or your portable music player, or even on the upstairs TV unless you get another player. That's a feature to whoever's making the players, but a bug to the rest of us.

In the original post I was a bit too vague in calling that a "wrinkle". The other wrinkle, that modifications can be tied to a particular player, is also hard to see as a feature.

If you can't make your own copy, you're also stuck if you should lose or damage the original. The manufacturers know this and have developed a special scratch-resistant coating for the new disks, but however you coat it, having one copy is no match for being able to make backups. We've seen this movie a couple of times already, enough to have a pretty good idea how it ends.

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